March Madness is going on. All around the country, games are taking place - with the ultimate goal being to make it to the Big Dance - to play one of your arch-rivals - to become THE CHAMPION!
You see teams playing with passion. With grit. With determination. Because they want to WIN! They want the bragging rights that come with being a champion. They want a payoff for all the hard work they have put in - during the season and before the season. It's a CRAZY, FUN time of year.
And March Madness has hit Vienna too. But our version of March Madness comes on the baseball field.
You see, there are two arch-rivals in this area - one being Madison High School and the other being Oakton High School. They have battled for years and traded off championships. And now, no matter whether they are playing a regular season game, a playoff game, a championship game or just a scrimmage - it's WAR. (Or at least WARHAWKS - lol!)
This Saturday, the Madison Warhawks take on the Oakton Cougars in baseball. It will be Madison's season opener and the game will take place at Oakton's field at 1PM. This year, the game means a lot. It's not a playoff game or a championship game - but this game is about pride. Oakton beat Madison in football just after school started in the Fall (in the Outback Bowl ). And Madison beat Oakton in basketball (on Oakton's home court). So as far as we can see, THIS game on Saturday will be the tie-breaker. The winner takes home the bragging rights until next Fall comes around and another game is on the line.
Some interesting background info:
- When Madison's Eli Facenda, Jay Kenyon, Justin Nicholls, Gavin Gibbons and Joe Corrigan were 13, they played on the same nationally ranked travel team as Oakton's Chad Carroll, Taiyo Francis and Luke Willis.
- Last year's match-up between Oakton & Madison was especially contentious - not just on the field, but off the field too. Just ask Sun Gazette reporter Dave Facinoli. He happened to sit between a brother & sister who were rooting for opposite sides - one had a son who played for the Warhawks - the other had a spouse who coached for the Cougars. And last year's game had no shortage of controversial calls.
- Madison's Head Coach (Mark Gjormand) and Oakton's Assistant Coach (Scott Rowland) have both coached their teams to state championships.
- Last summer, Madison's first baseman (Jonny Graham) was teammates with Oakton's catcher (Austin Lamon) when they played together for the NVTBL Prospect Stars travel team.
- Coaches on both sides (Oakton's Head Coach Justin Janis and Madison Assistant Coaches JJ Hollenbeck & Jimmy Goldsmith & Andrew Baird) are graduates from the schools they coach.
- There is a player named Cooney on each team - but they're not related. There are 3 players on Oakton's team named Carroll. They ARE related.
- And quite a few players from both rosters played together this past summer on American Legion Post 180 - including Madison's Nate Favero, Justin Nicholls, Eli Facenda and Oakton's Chris Hanson & Mason Hauser.
Here are a few players to watch:
- Eli Facenda - Senior, Lefty Pitcher, signed with Lehigh Univeristy (D-1), crafty & patient
- Jay Kenyon - Senior, Catcher, 3rd year varsity player, strong arm & strong bat
- Nate Favero - Junior, Righty Pitcher & 2B, 3rd year varsity player, soft hands - watch for him to be part of some doubleplays
- Jonny Graham - Junior, 1B & Outfielder, 3rd year varsity player, versatile, sprays the ball to all fields with potential to hit for power
- Andy McGuire - Sophomore, SS & Righty Pitcher, fabulous fielder, already being recruited by multiple D-1 schools including University of South Carolina
- Dan Powers - Sophomore, Righty Pitcher & 3B, varsity starter as a Freshman
- Chad Carroll - Senior, SS, signed with James Madison University (D-1), one of the fastest players in our region - set regional track record this winter, has some pop in his bat
- Luke Willis - Senior, CF, signed with Coastal Carolina (D-1), one of the other fastest players in our region - teammates with Chad Carroll in setting regional track record this winter, also a good hitter
- Taiyo Francis - Senior, Righty Pitcher & 1B, good arsenal of pitches, great target at first
- Chris Hanson - Senior, 3B & Catcher, gotta gun for an arm and not afraid to use it
- RJ Garcia - Junior, righty sidewinder pitcher
- Austin Lamon - Junior, Catcher, commands the field & keeps baserunners on their toes with his arm
Passion & pride - just another reason why we LOVE LIVING IN VIENNA, VA!