By Owen Gotimer
Purcellville (Nov. 23, 2014) – Playing after Thanksgiving Day is becoming second-nature for the Loudoun Valley High School varsity football team who for the second straight year will play in a VHSL 3A East region semifinal just two days after Turkey Day with hopes of making it to the state final for the first time ever.
“We always hear we won’t be playing after Thanksgiving. We’ve done it two years in a row now,” senior quarterback Sully Warner said. “It’s really rebuilding the program. It means a lot, definitely for the younger guys coming back next year. Winning isn’t surprising anymore, it’s the standard.”
On Nov. 22, Warner (14-for-18, 204 yards, 4 TD) solidified the Vikings spot in the region semifinal as he threw four touchdown passes in Loudoun Valley’s, 37-13, win over York High School in Purcellville during the VHSL 3A East region quarterfinal.
“He stuck in the pocket really well today. We’ve been trying to keep him in the pocket instead of looking to run,” Loudoun Valley acting head coach Anthony Long said. “He’s been keeping his eyes down field and giving his receivers a little more time to get open. He throws the deep ball really, really well. He was just doing that all day.”
Warner got the scoring started when he connected with junior receiver Trey McDyre (Trey McDyre 6 receptions, 116 yards, 2 TD) on a 26-yard touchdown pass midway through the first frame. Five minutes later Warner hit McDyre in the end zone again, this time for a 23-yard touchdown.
“We knew we were going to pass because they had a five man front, and we knew were going to have lanes open downfield,” Warner said. “We opened up running the ball real well early and that helped open up the pass game. The receivers got open and made some good catches.”
Senior running back Andrew Cordani (Andrew Cordani 31 carries, 191 yards, 1 TD) established the running presence early for the Vikings, but credited the offensive line and Long for the early momentum.
“It all started off with the offensive live. They blocked great today,” Cordani said. “Coach had a beautiful game plan. No matter what we ran I knew there would be a hole, and I could just start running when I hit the second level.”
Cordani’s second level included going for a 15-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter which helped ice the game for the Vikings whose defense had only given up seven points and 29 rushing yards at that point in the game.
“We like to take away the run right away. We’ve done a really good job of taking everyone’s run away all year and forcing them into a passing game. Even when they do start to pass, we have a really great front five to pass rush,” Long said.
Next weekend, Long noted his pass rushers will have a lot more work to do as they take on James Monroe High School in a region semifinal.
“They have a really good quarterback. They like to throw the ball,” Long said. “We’re not going to change a whole lot of what we do. We’re going to try and get some power football going early and establish the run and then go off play action and take advantage with our one-on-one match ups with our bigger receivers.”
Long produced and stuck to a game plan after taking over as the acting head coach at Loudoun Valley just before the Vikings first game of the season, and Cordani acknowledged Long came in a polished leader.
“He’s done a great job. He was already here as an assistant so we were all so comfortable with him taking over. He is always working so hard and comes out every week with a great game plan,” Cordani said.
On Nov. 29 at 2 p.m., No. 2 Loudoun Valley will host the No. 3 James Monroe Yellow Jackets in a VHSL 3A East region semifinal in Purcellville, a game which Long said the Vikings will be ready for.
“They know how to win now. I think it’s huge. They’re winners.”
Sully Warner 14-for-18, 204 yards, 4 TD
Jacob Stapleton 0-for-1
Andrew Cordani 31 carries, 191 yards, 1 TD
Will Ramey 8 carries, 49 yards
Tyler Stipancic 7 carries, 11 yards
Sully Warner 4 carries
Trey McDyre 2 carries, 9 yards
Jacob Stapleton 1 carry, 11 yards
Trey McDyre 6 receptions, 116 yards, 2 TD
Ryan Malsch 3 receptions, 45 yards, 1 TD
Andrew Cordani 3 receptions, 26 yards
Dalton Smolens 1 reception, 7 yards, 1 TD
Michael Irving 1 reception, 10 yards
1Q 6:00 LV Sully Warner to Trey McDyre 26-yard TD pass (Peart PAT)
1Q 0:31 LV Sully Warner to Trey McDyre 23-yard TD pass (Peart PAT)
2Q 10:38 Y Neville Jordan to Luke Gilbert 47-yard TD pass (PAT good)
2Q 0:00 LV Sully Warner to Dalton Smolens 8-yard TD pass (Peart PAT)
3Q 5:03 LV Sully Warner to Ryan Malsch 17-yard TD pass (Peart PAT)
4Q 11:47 LV Andrew Cordani 15-yard TD run (Peart PAT)
4Q 8:11 LV DEF safety
4Q 2:29 Y Neville Jordan 67-yard TD run (PAT missed)
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.