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Jan
20

Five Things To Keep In Mind For This Week's Snowstorm

Since it is apparent we’re not going to avoid another killer snow, it looks like we’ll be inundated with all the common-sense things you should do in an extreme weather event for the next couple of days. But having been through a bunch of these, allow me to add 5 more:

1. Go buy furnace filters. If you’re like me, you replace them the first time you run the air conditioning each year and the first time you switch over to heat. Twice a year usually works. But the last time we got one of these 2-foot snowstorms, I noticed the heat wasn’t keeping up that well. Thinking “oh great, there’s something wrong with the furnace at the worst time of the year” I then noticed it seemed to be running in shorter cycles. So I went down and replaced the furnace filter, even though I had just done so a few months prior. Don’t know if it’s all the moisture in the air turning dust into oatmeal, but it fixed the problem immediately. I replaced the filters in both upstairs and in the basement yesterday just in case. For $20, it’s a cheap insurance policy.

2. Go look for your gloves NOW. Snows like this last over multiple days, and you will need multiple coats and gloves. I started out each time with one coat and 2 gloves, came back in covered in sweat, and couldn’t go back out with a hat and gloves that were wet from both the snow and sweat. If you’re young and in great shape, perhaps you can wait until it stops and shovel out 2 feet. I ended up going out multiple times, trying to get it in 8-inch segments, so I went through three different sets of gloves, hats, sweatshirts and coats. Finding them now prevents any domestic disharmony that could be created by asking “what did you do with my stuff?”

3. Check on your neighbors. When I moved here, I was just over 40, and my next door neighbor was in his 60s. I saw him out one day trying to shovel snow and told him to go inside; I’ve been doing both our driveways ever since. The last thing in the world I wanted to see was my neighbor having a health crisis over something I could easily handle. My problem now is I’m almost 60 and he’s 80. We’re both waiting for some young neighbor to come up and tell me “old man, go inside, I got this.”

4. Everyone makes a run for milk, bread and toilet paper, but consider ingredients for dishes that make a house smell like a home. We always brew a big pot of chili, forego the Keurig and keep pots of coffee going during the day, and typically bake some cookies. It may be my imagination, but a snowstorm seems to keep the aromas inside the house more and make the place smell like it’s a holiday. And if you’re running back and forth outside shoveling snow all day and night, it’s a lot easier to grab a bowl of chili and a cup of coffee that’s already made than coming inside and wondering what you can consume for energy before going back out.

5. Dig out those old laptops and charge them. Everyone remembers to charge everything that can be charged, but the laptops get overlooked. It’s not because you’ll use them. But your cellphone becomes not only your phone, but your internet gateway when the power is down. It’s priority No. 1 when it comes to keeping something running. Those old laptops have USB ports which will charge a phone. They won’t work with IPADS, but they will recharge a phone.

Keep in mind that when you’re prepared, it means it won’t snow. If you assume it won’t snow, we get dumped on. So because everyone is saying it will snow this far in advance, I’m skeptical it will really happen. But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Worst thing that happens is we will get to have chili on Saturday :)

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Jan
11

I'm Guessing This Movie Isn't Very Popular In Minnesota...

Too soon?

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Jan
11

This Is What I'm Afraid Will Happen Next Season...

I’ve been a Redskins fan for 50 years, which means this past season was an unexpected joy to watch.

But it also means that while everyone is saying “it’s only the beginning” this morning after the team exited the playoffs Sunday, I can't shake a bad feeling about the future.

Perhaps it’s just the history of this team taking one step forward and two steps back over the last two decades. But when I think to next season, I have a couple of real concerns that everyone is making a few assumptions that may not come true.

The biggest is the quarterback situation. Everyone thinks since Kirk Cousins played so well down the stretch, the team has finally found its quarterback. In most other towns that would be true.

But not here. Listen closely when Kirk answers “if they want me” every time he’s asked if he’s going to sign a long-term deal with the team. Most think he’s saying “if they pay me enough.” I’m hearing something else.

I am admittedly impressed with Cousins. His demeanor, his work ethic, his attention to detail and his zeal to always keep improving convinced me that in time he’s going to be really good. But he’s going to make mistakes along the way, learn from them, and then come back a better QB.

He has not been allowed to make mistakes here. A very vocal group of fans who believe Robert Griffin could have done just as well as Kirk have a mantra that Cousins is a career backup who is merely a game manager. Every time the Redskins lose a game, they’re out in full force on social media and in the comments section of stories crushing him.

When the team won, they refused to acknowledge progress, saying his success was because the other team wasn’t any good, or that his throws weren’t long enough, or a variety of other things. The current narrative is that despite throwing for over 4,000 yards and completing almost 70 percent of his passes, he didn’t beat a team with a winning record. So he must not be any good.

The criticism waned at the end of the season because he played 4 games in a row at such a high level you couldn’t find much to pick at. But the critics were back yesterday. Some of it was subtle, like national media person David Aldridge – who I really like – saying after Cousins fumbled while being sacked, “that’s all on Cousins.” Never mind Morgan Moses totally wiffed on a block that caused the sack; but if there’s a bad play, blame isn’t shared. It’s all on Cousins.

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Dec
21

Here's The Part Of The Redskins Story I've Enjoyed The Most

I like that the Redskins are relevant in December. I like that they can win the NFC East with a victory Saturday night. But what I enjoy more than anything? Kirk Cousins’ never quit, never give up example this season.

I can’t say Cousins will be a great quarterback for years to come. Nobody can. But when given the chance to start this season, he showed me a spark of a few things that made me optimistic: He was smart, he worked hard, and most importantly, he really worked hard at trying to make the people around him better.

He was going to need time, however, and he started in an almost no-win situation. The team was terrible to begin with, and there was a significant chunk of the fan base and media that would never accept him unless he was Robert Griffin III. Every success was minimized because the opposition wasn’t very good, he was lucky, or some other rationalization. Every mistake was magnified, and all young quarterbacks who haven’t started much are going to make a lot of mistakes.

You’d have thought that would change after he led a comeback to beat the Philadelphia Eagles on the game’s final drive in week 4. But the next two weeks would be memorably cruel. The team went to Atlanta, and Cousins showed more promise in leading the team to the go-ahead touchdown late in the game. When the defense gave up what looked like a deciding score in the final minute, Cousins led them back down the field in only 24 seconds for a game-tying field goal.

Leading a team the length of the field for a tying score with only 24 seconds left isn’t something many quarterbacks at any level can do. Maybe we have something special here, I thought. But on the first drive of overtime, Cousins threw an out pattern and the receiver fell down. Left all alone to catch the ball, the defensive back said thank you and returned it to the end zone for the winning score.

“An Interception Machine” screamed people on social media. Talk radio crushed him. The RGIII fans demanded Cousins be benched. Cries of a conspiracy and racism made their way into the conversation. And it would only get worse.

The next week the team was in New York against the Jets. The injury reports each day became almost comical. Deep threat DeSean Jackson was out. So was tight end Jordan Reed. Running back Matt Jones was out, and the other two running backs – Alfred Morris and Chris Thompson – were banged up. Half the offensive line – Kory Lichtensteiger and Trent Williams – would not play, and center Josh LeRibeus and guard Spencer Long had been held out of a few practices because of injuries. Even Pierre Garcon had been struggling with a knee injury.

Everybody seemed in agreement that with all the injuries, the Redskins had no chance. Cousins directed the offense to a first half lead, but eventually the Jets figured out the Redskins had no deep threat, no tight end to throw to, no running backs, and a makeshift offensive line. They won going away.

Cousins was crushed in the media again. Adding to the misery, we would find out later, was an additional burden Cousins was shouldering. He was told his father had been diagnosed with cancer. It was definitely not a fun time to be Kirk Cousins.

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Dec
12

Stone Bridge Loses 27-7 In Group 5A State Title Game

Highland Springs pulled off several big plays on offense, and the Springers’ suffocating defense kept Stone Bridge from doing much of anything after the first quarter as the Richmond-area team claimed the 5A state football championship Saturday in Charlottesville.

Stone Bridge briefly tied the game at 7-7 following a Highland Springs special teams mistake, driving 17 yards for the score on a 1-yard run by Chase Ridley. But that would be it for the Bulldogs from a scoring standpoint.

Highland Springs, meanwhile, got all the points it would need on a 22-yard fade pattern in the left corner of the end zone from quarterback Juwan Carter to wide receiver K'Von Wallace to make it 13-7 at halftime. Wallace would catch another short pass from Carter in the third period and break several tackles en route to a 55-yard touchdown to make it 21-7.

Highland Springs iced the game in the fourth quarter when the Springers were facing a 3rd and 30 from their own 34. The handoff went to Greg Dortch, who broke a number of tackles and went 66 yards right up the middle to the end zone to make it 27-7.

The game was Stone Bridge’s sixth appearance in the state championship game in the last 11 years, as they also appeared in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012. A 38-0 win over Potomac in 2007 remains the Bulldogs’ only win in the state final.

For Stone Bridge, which at one point was 4-4 late in the season, the game capped an incredible comeback, as the Bulldogs pulled upset after upset to finish the season at 10-5.

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Dec
04

Stone Bridge Heads Back to Charlottesville For State Title Game

At one point in the season, Stone Bridge was 4-4 and some were thinking the Bulldogs' football dynasty may be coming to an end.

But Friday night, Stone Bridge showed that rumors of its demise were greatly exaggerated as the Bulldogs beat undefeated Tuscarora 54-41 for their sixth straight win and earned a spot in next week’s 5A state championship game in Charlottesville.

Tuscarora had routed Stone Bridge 42-19 when the two teams played earlier in the season, but the Bulldogs played without injured quarterback Joe Thompson in that game. Friday night, a healthy Thompson was the difference as he completed 11 of 15 passes for 223 yards and three touchdown, plus ran 18 times for 99 yards and three more.

Stone Bridge wiil face Highland Springs, a 35-10 winner over Indian River Saturday, in the state title game.

Stone Bridge took the early lead and never trailed when Thompson hit Brett Smedley on a 5-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 advantage. Tuscarora would get as close as the Huskies would get all night when Nic Speroni made a great leaping catch of a 23-yard pass from Daniel Smith to put the ball at the Stone Bridge 1, then Smith carried into the end zone from there to tie it at 7-7.

Stone Bridge quickly answered with a 57-yard drive capped by an 11-yard scoring run by Thompson, and an 8-yard TD run by Chase Ridley early in the second quarter made it 21-7. Gunnar Biebighauser caught a 28-yard TD pass from Smith to draw the margin down to one score, but Stone Bridge then added two more touchdowns on short runs by Thompson and Ridley to make it 35-14 with only 50 seconds left in the half.

It looked like that would be the halftime score, but Smith did his best Aaron Rodgers impersonation on the final play of the half, throwing a 43-yard Hail Mary pass that Speroni somehow came up with in the end zone to make the intermission margin 35-21.

Tuscarora could draw no closer in the second half as the Huskies put together a long, time-consuming drive that ate up over 9 minutes of the third quarter and took 22 plays...yet ended with no points. Stone Bridge answered by going 87 yards in only 6 plays as Thompson scored his third touchdown of the night on an 18-yard run to make it 42-21.

The teams then traded touchdowns with Smith scoring on a 34-yard run for Tuscarora and Thompson throwing his second TD pass of the game on a 21-yarder to Dewayne Winston to make it 48-28. Smith threw his third TD pass of the night with a 19-yard strike to Speroni to make it 48-35, and after a Stone Bridge turnover, Tuscarora had a chance to whittle the margin down to one score. But Smith’s pass was intercepted by Joe LeMaster to end the threat.

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Nov
27

Stone Bridge Storms Back To Upset Top Seed Massaponax

While it looked like Stone Bridge was down for the count multiple times Friday night, the Bulldogs got back up off the mat and stunned top seed Massaponax 50-49 and advance in the Group 5A playoffs.

Stone Bridge at one point trailed 49-35 in the fourth quarter, but Joe Thompson scored from 6 yards out on a 4th and short, then Dewayne Winston burst 55 yards up the middle for a touchdown on the next drive to make it a one-point game. Coach Mickey Thompson elected to go for two, and his son bulled into the end zone for the two-point conversion in the final minutes to give the Bulldogs the lead for good.

Massaponax tried to counter in the closing moments, but the Stone Bridge defense tackled Panther quarterback Joey Benden short of the first down marker on a 4th and 3 play at the Bulldog 41 to preserve the win.

The win was Stone Bridge’s 5th straight after getting off to a 4-4 start, and the Bulldogs handed 12-1 Massaponax its only loss of the season. Stone Bridge advances next Saturday to play Tuscarora – 63-49 winners over North Stafford Friday – in Leesburg.

Stone Bridge started the game very slowly, fumbling the opening kickoff, then after the defense held, fumbled again on the Bulldog 25. Massaponax capitalized on the second gift, as Benden threw a 6 yards touchdown pass to Josh Lewis for a 6-0 lead.

Early in the second quarter, the Panther drove 75 yards in six plays with Tristan Medina running up the middle from 4 yards out and stretching the ball across the goal line to make it 13-0. That score seemed to wake up the Stone Bridge offense, as Thompson hit two big passes to Brett Smedley, then ran the remaining 30 yards for a touchdown to make it 13-7.

But Massaponax answered with a long drive of its own, culminating in a 16-yard run by Benden where it appeared he was initially stopped, then he slipped through the pile and easily ran into the end zone for a 20-7 advantage. Stone Bridge wowed the crowd with a 75-yard TD pass from Thompson to Smedley that was negated by a penalty, but the Bulldogs shook it off and went 80 yards in 4 plays with Joshua Breece scoring on a 24-yard run to make it 20-14.

The Stone Bridge defense couldn’t hold again, and Massaponax ate up the rest of the half and scored on a 29-yard pass from Benden to Trey Carson with only 39 seconds left in the half to make the score at intermission 27-14.

Massaponax would make it 34-14 on a 33-yard scoring pass from Benden to Medina, but touchdown runs of 63 and 5 yards by Chase Ridley would close the gap to 34-28. Massaponax calmly responded, methodically going 69 yards on 8 straight running plays as Benden scored on a 20-yard run, then Benden threw to Marcus Mudd for the two-pointer to make it 42-28.

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Nov
27

Tuscarora Outlasts North Stafford In 5A North Playoffs

Tuscarora quarterback Daniel Smith scored 4 touchdowns, threw for two more, and James Douglas added three touchdowns on the ground as the Huskies offense exploded in a wild 63-49 win over North Stafford to advance in the 5A North playoffs.

Smith finished with 237 yards on 15 carries and completed 10 of 11 passes for another 140 yards. Douglas had 176 yards on 31 carries as Tuscarora rolled up over 500 yards of total offense. Tuscarora, now 13-0, will next play Stone Bridge, a 50-49 winner over top seed Massaponax Friday night.

The teams were tied 28-28 to start the second half, but Smith rolled out to his left and scored on a 21-yard run to give Tuscarora a lead they would not relinquish. That didn’t mean the home team could at any point relax until the final minutes, however, as North Stafford kept answering.

A 13-yard pass from Smith to Gunnar Biebighauser made it 42-28, but North Stafford receiver Guy Keith – a 6-foot-3 215-pound receiver who Tuscarora had no answer for – caught a long pass to give the Wolverines the ball on the Tusky 4. On the next play, Liam Kauthen scored on a jet sweep to close the gap to 42-35.

But just as Tuscarora couldn’t stop Keith, North Stafford couldn’t stop Douglas or Smith. Following the ensuing kickoff, Douglas carried the ball for 4, 6 and 40 yards right up the middle to move the lead back to two scores. Keith responded with a 12-yard catch on a fade in the end zone from Jimmy Edwards to make it 49-42, but then Smith capped a 7-play 76-yard drive with a 16-yard scoring run to make it 56-42.

Tuscarora’s Jonathan Roebuck would then come up with his second interception of the game to move the contest out of reach. The Huskies converted the turnover into a 54-yard touchdown run by Douglas, making the lead an insurmountable 21 points at 63-42. Keith would then finish the scoring with an 11-yard jump ball catch in the end zone for the final margin.

The game started out at a much slower pace, as Naukym Morton began the scoring for North Stafford on a 42-yard run to make it 7-0, the only score of the first quarter. But the two teams would combine to score 49 in the second, as Tuscarora stormed back behind Smith. Smith ran 79 yards to the North Stafford 1, then Douglas carried it into the end zone to tie the score. Facing a 4th and 2 from the North Stafford 5 on the next possession, Smith would calmly toss a touchdown pass to Nic Speroni to give the Huskies the lead.

North Stafford quickly answered, tying the game on a 55-yard pass from Jimmy Edwards to Devyn Ford with 3:17 left in the half. Then things really exploded.

Two long runs by Smith got Tuscarora into the red zone, and 3 plays later he scored from a yard out to make it 21-14. North Stafford needed one play – an 80-yard pass from Edwards to Guy Keith that was underthrown but Keith made a great run – to tie it at 21. Tuscarora fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Edwards connected with Curtis Davis – the guy who recovered the fumbled kickoff – from 40 yards out to make it 28-21.

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Nov
27

I Guess We're Just A Little Different Here In Ashburn...

I guess we’re just a little weird here in Ashburn.

This morning I braced myself to wait in line for a Black Friday special. I stopped doing such things years ago because more often than not, the store had already sold out of what I wanted, and people were very aggressive in trying to get such specials. But my wife wanted a Martha Stewart Christmas Tree we had looked at that normally cost $199 and it was a Black Friday special for $79. The Home Depot was only 5 minutes away from my house, so we got up at 5:30 AM and took a chance.

We got there at 5:50 and people were already in line. Everyone was courteous, even friendly. The doors opened promptly at 6. People went in the door single file, and if someone veered off to the side to grab a cart, the line waited until you returned. The Home Depot folks greeted you, offered you a circular, then pointed out free doughnuts. Nothing says friendliness like “free doughnuts”.

Since the trees were big and heavy, Home Depot had individually put them in carts so you could push them to the checkout without risk of hurting yourself. They had about 40, so if you got up early, odds are you were going to get one. The checkout counters were all manned (which is unusual for a Home Depot on any other normal day) and we were back home with the deal we wanted by 6:10 AM.

That’s not the way it’s supposed to happen on Black Friday. Someone was supposed to push me, be rude, or otherwise give me reason not never get up early on Black Friday again. Instead, it was pleasant. Some might even say it was civilized.

Like I said, we must be weird here in Ashburn :)

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Nov
20

Stone Bridge Routs Broad Run, Tuscarora Advances

The reports of Stone Bridge's demise were apparently exaggerated after all.

The Bulldogs won their second straight playoff game Friday night, drilling Broad Run 35-10 at Broad Run. Stone Bridge jumped ahead on a Joshua Breece touchdown run on its first drive, and never looked back, jumping out to a 35-3 lead before Broad Run finally scored a touchdown in the final eight minutes.

By winning, Stone Bridge will next play top seed Massaponax next Friday night. Massaponax beat Potomac Falls 28-7 to end the Panthers' season.

The other Loudoun County team - Tuscarora - got 4 touchdowns from James Douglas as they rallied from a 14-0 deficit to beat Atlee 42-27 to advance to the 5A North semifinals. That game will be next Friday at 2 pm against North Stafford, a 35-33 winner over Brooke Point.

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