NOVA Challenge

I think this will be great if the weather holds. Which I believe we all know it won't.

August 21 - The ‘Occoquan vs. Northern Region Baseball Challenge’ will provide some early-season intrigue to the 2018 season next March, pitting the 6A schools from Fairfax and Arlington into a 22-game seeded round robin.

Organized by Chantilly coach Kevin Ford, the Challenge will provide each participating team with two games against equivalent teams from the opposite region, with each of the 22 clubs hosting one of their games. Ford tasked the head coaches from participating schools with seeding teams from their respective region, yielding some interesting non-district contests next March 16 and March 20.

“The thought was to maybe have something that we can have every year so we know, on these two dates, we’re going to have two games. And hopefully they’re going to be somewhat competitive because we’re going to have the rankings,” Ford said. “And the second part of it was we just thought it’d be a cool thing. We’ve never had two regions up here in what used to be the Northern Region, and to have some kind of competition or some way of awarding bragging rights ... we thought it would be a great way of promoting baseball in Northern Virginia.”

Madison, previously limited in its non-district scheduling due to its 14-game regular season league schedule, five games at a Spring Break tournament and annual dual with crosstown rival Oakton, has more flexibility now as part of the five-team Concorde District. In addition to playing in what will be one of the state’s top baseball leagues, the Warhawks will get two big tests during the Challenge, hosting Lake Braddock and traveling to West Springfield.

Defending region champion Oakton, which will now play Madison twice per season as members of the Concorde, will also face the two Patriot District powers. “I think it’s a great idea,” Oakton coach Justin Janis said. “It helps to fill out the schedule with conferences having low numbers, and matches teams of similar caliber.”

Other games of interest during the Challenge include when veteran coaches Scott Rowland and Mark Luther square off with their new teams when Centreville travels to South County; and when West Potomac travels to Chantilly in a rematch from their 2016 opening round regional game, which the Chargers escaped in extra innings en route to region and state championships.

“It’s a great idea, especially with so-few [district] games,” said Langley coach Kevin Healy, whose Saxons will host W.T. Woodson and travel to West Potomac. “The coaches poll idea made it more likely to get good, challenging games in early too.”

The Challenge’s winning region will simply be which one tallies the most victories, with a tiebreaker starting with the record of the No. 1 seeds and proceeding down until a winning region is determined. The process has begun to acquire sponsors for the event, as well as for a an annual scholarship to be awarded to a participating player.

Due to scheduling limitations and travel concerns, the 6A schools from Prince William County were not included in the Challenge. “I don’t think [Prince William coaches] make up their own schedules, and think the travel would have turned some people off, like if McLean had to go to Hylton,” Ford said. “The big part was that they have to play everybody in Prince William, and then I think they can get whoever else they want. It wasn’t automatic that their days would be available.”

All games in the Challenge will be scheduled for 6:30 p.m., with junior varsity games held at the opposite site. Only results from the varsity games will be taken into account for the event.

Here is the schedule for the Challenge:

Friday, March 16 - (#1) Lake Braddock at (#1) Madison; (#2) West Springfield at (#2) Oakton; (#3) Robinson at (#3) Centreville; (#4) South County at (#4) Westfield; (#5) West Potomac at (#5) Chantilly; (#6) W.T. Woodson at (#6) Langley; (#7) Fairfax at (#7) McLean; (#8) Hayfield at (#8) South Lakes; (#9) T.C. Williams at (#9) Herndon; (#10) Mount Vernon at (#10) Washington-Lee; (#11) Annandale at (#11) Yorktown

Tuesday, March 20 - (#2) Oakton at (#1) Lake Braddock; (#1) Madison at (#2) West Springfield; (#4) Westfield at (#3) Robinson; (#3) Centreville at (#4) South County; (#6) Langley at (#5) West Potomac; (#5) Chantilly at (#6) W.T. Woodson; (#8) South Lakes at (#7) Fairfax; (#7) McLean at (#8) Hayfield; (#10) Washington-Lee at (#9) T.C. Williams; (#11) Yorktown at (#10) Mount Vernon; (#9) Herndon at (#11) Annandale

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