As the game clock reached triple zeroes and its semifinal win became official, Stone Bridge's players turned their attention to the following week's championship game. And their presumed opponent: Phoebus.
"Nobody had told us their score," Bulldogs coach Mickey Thompson said. "You just heard the kids saying, 'I can't wait to play Phoebus again.' We'd have been shocked if they had lost. We'd have been disappointed."
As it turned out, the Phantoms had won, though in dramatic fashion over Dinwiddie. And as soon as their game ended, the Phoebus players began thinking about their upstate rivals.
"We figured it would be Stone Bridge," Phantoms kicker Eric Enderson said. "We had a good idea it would be another rematch."
In fact, it had been a foregone conclusion since Phoebus' 15-10 win over the Bulldogs in last year's Group AAA Division 5 final. They had met three straight years in the playoffs. And like the Celtics-Lakers in the 1960s, they were destined to meet again.
Saturday … high noon … Scott Stadium.
It's unlike any other rivalry in the state.
The two high schools are located 191 miles apart, and with traffic you'd better allow for a four-hour drive. Chances are that until they first met in the 2007 semifinals, neither had heard of the other.
Over the last 10 years, they are 1-2 among Group AAA teams (in both divisions) in winning percentage. Phoebus is a ridiculous 127-9 (.934) in that span with five state titles. Stone Bridge is 113-15 (.883) with one championship and a runner-up.
"Just thumbing through the VHSL program, I noticed both schools in the 2000s have developed quite a tradition," Phoebus coach Stan Sexton said. "This is what high school football is all about. We're the best two Division 5 teams in the state, and this is how it should be — playing it out on the field."
The first time they played it out on the field was in 2007 in Ashburn. The Phantoms led 24-14 early in the third quarter but gave up 24 unanswered points in a shocking loss.
If you're a Phoebus fan, you know what happened next. Someone found a Stone Bridge towel, someone had it framed and hanged on the Phantoms' weight room wall, and it stayed there until then-coach Bill Dee broke it into a few hundred pieces. And that loss, on Dec. 1, 2007, was Phoebus' last.
The Phantoms have won 44 in a row since, including two over Stone Bridge. The revenge came in 2008 with a 38-8 knockout in the semifinals. And last year, despite being dominated in every statistical category, Phoebus won 15-10 in the final.
The Bulldogs (14-0) have been smarting since that loss, which served as motivation during the off-season workouts.
As center Nic Consani put it to the Loudoun Times, "Phoebus puts a little pep in our step."
The Phantoms know all about that.
"Coach has been telling us all week how they have that drive," Enderson said. "We have to be as fired up as them. In our 2008 game, we scored on the first play of the game. We can't let them get a big play like that."
Stone Bridge still runs the Single Wing, and Phoebus still runs its beloved I. But despite the contrasting styles, the programs have much in common.
Both have excellent tailbacks who are good bets to make the all-state team. The Bulldogs' Marcus Harris has rushed for 1,930 yards and 30 touchdowns. The Phantoms' Tyree Lee has 2,351 and 27.
Each defense is unyielding and is led by two ACC commitments. Stone Bridge has end Rob Burns (Virginia) and safety Spenser Rositano (Boston College). Phoebus has end Daquan Romero and linebacker Caleb Taylor, who are headed to U.Va.
And there are the two quarterbacks: The Bulldogs' Brian Rody, and the Phantoms' Jordan Roby. (Granted, there's an eight-inch difference in height between the 6-6 Rody and the 5-10 Roby).
Before 2007, they weren't on each other's radar. Now, from the early weeks of the season on, they keep track of each other.
"One weekend we played a Thursday night game, so we had a couple of coaches go up and watch them play on a Friday night," Sexton said. "It was in the back of our minds. We felt like we'd have to go through Stone Bridge to win the title."
THROUGH THE YEARS IN
GROUP AAA DIVISION 5
2007 semifinals: Stone Bridge 38, Phoebus 24
2008 semifinals: Phoebus 38, Stone Bridge 8
2009 final: Phoebus 15, Stone Bridge 10Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times