By Owen Gotimer
Leesburg (Nov. 21, 2014) – In subfreezing temperatures under the Friday night lights at Fortune Field, the Tuscarora High School football team (12-0) remained red hot knocking off Wakefield High School (8-4), 42-14, in a VHSL 5A North region quarterfinal.
“It was just coming out and taking care of business like we’ve been talking about all week,” Tuscarora senior running back Noah Reimers said. “This is a team that obviously I thought we were better than, but you can’t take anyone lightly. They were a little bit better than we expected. They came out and played really hard. I think once we got some things going, we started rolling and getting our confidence up.”
The Huskies got off to a slow start defensively as the Wakefield Warriors marched down the field in the first quarter – including a 50-yard passing conversion on third and long that put the Warriors in the red zone – before senior quarterback Riley Wilson connected with senior receiver Justin Moore for a 5-yard touchdown and the early lead.
“We had to work a little harder tonight,” Tuscarora head coach Michael Burnett said. “You know that, you’re in the playoffs.”
Just over a minute later – with Reimers caring for a banged up shoulder on the sideline – Tuscarora senior running back Ishmael Williams broke off for a 48-yard touchdown run to even things out.
Junior quarterback Daniel Smith continued to add to the Huskies momentum when he ran for 29 yards on a quarterback keeper as the first quarter wound down.
“My role – as it’s been all year – is to come out and lead the offense,” Smith said. “We have a great offensive line, a great running back, great receivers. I don’t have to do too much. I have a great team around me to help me out.”
His undefeated team kept pushing through the cold, especially when Reimers returned from the sideline.
With 9:00 left in the first half, Reimers scored on a 4-yard touchdown run. Then with 1:03 left in the first half, Reimers scored on a 1-yard touchdown run – set up by Smith’s 57-yard pass to sophomore receiver Duron Norris. Then five minutes into the second half, Reimers scored on another 1-yard touchdown run – after he carried the ball six yards for a first down on a fourth and short situation in the red zone.
“They were good tacklers. Noah has the ability to make people miss, but I thought they did a good job of bringing him down,” Burnett said. “He’s a great player. You’re going to have a tough time stopping a great player. We feel like if we keep giving him the ball good things are going to happen.”
While Reimers sees himself receiving praise from classmates, teammates, coaches and the media, he noted his offensive line – which Burnett called “unreal” – is a big reason for his success.
“They’re incredible. They open up huge holes for me,” Reimers said. “They’re the guys who do the grunt work up there for me. When they’re opening up big holes and giving me alleys to run through, it makes my job easy.”
Wakefield head coach Wayne Hogwood noted Tuscarora is an all-around solid team highlighted by the offensive line and Reimers.
“They’re extremely good up front: the best offensive line I’ve seen in a couple years. And Reimers is a solid back, the kid can run. He’s patient, he follows blockers,” Hogwood said. “They do everything they’re supposed to do. Any coach would be proud to coach that team. We wanted to come out here and give them a game and make a name for ourselves. We’re going to get back to the drawing board and try to get our team to where that team is.”
Hogwood acknowledged the two team’s stories are similar as both had young teams a couple years ago working towards state recognition.
“We’re rising. I started 17 sophomores last year, and now they’re juniors so we were able to turn things around. I’ll have all the seniors next year, and we’ll see what we can do,” Hogwood said.
As the Warriors prepare for their 2015 season, the Huskies gets to continue their historic 2014 campaign.
On Friday, Nov. 28 at 1 p.m., No. 1 Tuscarora will host No. 4 Broad Run High School in a VHSL 5A North region semifinal at Fortune Field.
“We played them earlier in the year. We didn’t think we played that well against them, but we still came out on top,” Smith said. “We’re going to get back and iron some things out that we didn’t do well against them back in October.”
While some wrinkles may need to be fixed before the Black Friday match up with the Spartans, Reimers and Burnett agreed one essential element to winning has been stable throughout the Huskies season.
“It’s our love and passion we’re playing with that has allowed us to come this far. We’ll keep using that energy to keep pushing through,” Reimers said.
“Sometimes people think we have a lot of talent and this is why we’re making a run like this. But I think, honestly, it’s because this is a group of really good kids,” Burnett added. “They really love each other, and it’s been a special season.”
Daniel Smith 7-for-11, 140 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Nicholas Kallivokas 2-for-2
Noah Reimers 26 carries, 133 yards, 3 TD
Ishmael Williams 3 carries, 61 yards, 1 TD
Daniel Smith 3 carries, 43 yards
Bryce Sorrell 3 carries, 12 yards
Mateo Taylor 2 carries, 12 yards
Nick Kalivokas 1 carry, 10 yards
Jordan Fisher 1 carry, 9 yards
Todd Pickett 1 carry, 6 yards
Duron Norris 2 receptions, 68 yards
Jordan Fisher 2 receptions, 10 yards, 1 TD
Nick Guiliano 2 receptions, 22 yards
Jason Holder 2 receptions
Riley Hartman 1 reception, 40 yards
1Q 6:22 W Riley Wilson to Justin Moore 5-yard TD pass (Kline PAT)
1Q 5:11 T Ishmael Williams 48-yard TD run (Underhill PAT)
2Q 9:00 T Noah Reimers 4-yard TD run (Underhill PAT)
2Q 1:03 T Noah Reimers 1-yard TD run (Underhill PAT)
2Q 0:38 T Jordan Fisher 30-yard TD interception return (Underhill PAT)
3Q 7:20 T Noah Reimers 1-yard TD run (Underhill PAT)
3Q 0:09 T Daniel Smith to Jordan Fisher 8-yard TD pass (Underhill PAT)
4Q 0:25 W Leon Young 2-yard TD run (Kline PAT)
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Heritage High School in Leesburg and is currently in his senior year at Syracuse University. Follow LoCoSports on Twitter (@LoCoSports) for up-to-date news and scores from around Loudoun County.