Leesburg, Va. — Through seven weeks of the VHSL football season, Loudoun County has four undefeated teams. Three of the four could have been expected — Broad Run, John Champe and Tuscarora.
But the fourth — coming into the season — wasn’t expected by many: Heritage. The Pride are now sitting at a school record 6-0 — with one of their wins coming over longtime powerhouse Loudoun Valley by six after a great last minute defensive stand.
The Pride are led by their offense — including the trio of quarterback Alex Carlin, running back Mitch Westbrook and receiver Cole Miller — which has scored an average of 44.8 points per game.
Head coach Reed Prosser has been with the team since 2013, and he and his coaching staff –which includes former NFL tight end Robert Royal — are on a mission to build a great program at Heritage.
LoCoSports staff writer Spencer DuPuis got an exclusive interview with Prosser to give us the scoop: inside the huddle.
Spencer DuPuis: With your record right now sitting at 6-0, that equals the win total of your first two seasons combined. How have your players made that happen?
Reed Prosser: The biggest thing that they’ve done is that they have bought into the system, they bought into how hard they need to work and they understand what they need to do to be successful. It’s not really Xs & Os. It’s just the combination of believing in each other, understanding what their job is and everybody doing their job.
DuPuis: Sitting at 6-0, there are obviously positives from your team this season. But what do you think is the biggest thing your team has struggled with through six games?
Prosser: The biggest thing we’ve struggled with is just being consistent at times. We’ve had to deal with a lot of growth on both sides of the ball.
Offensively, we’ve done pretty well but we’ve tried to progress as a unit throughout the season; try to just expand what we can do. We try to challenge the kids every week with some new packages we put in.
Defensively, I think we’ve done a really good job of growing as a unit, and the kids have really gotten better as the season has progressed.
DuPuis: You have three tough games coming up against Woodgrove, John Champe and Dominion. How do you feel your team will adjust to the high level of competition?
Prosser: I think we will be fine. What we talked about all week — really all season — is just play to our standard. We try to set our standard, play to our standard and then make sure that we are a team that basically just tries to do what we are supposed to do. If we play well, we focus on competing, being tough and just doing the best we can. The wins and losses will take care of themselves. If our kids execute, are tough and are physical things will work out.
DuPuis: Coming into the season, you felt as if your defense was behind your offense, how do you feel your defense is right now?
Prosser: They have done a really good job, like I said growing as the season has progressed. I think Jude Njoku has done a great job of embracing the role as defensive tackle.
I think all of our linebackers have done a really good job of getting better as the season has gone along: Tyler Daily has been what we thought he would be.
Secondary wise, I think all four guys back there with Peter Ejiba, Tyrique Moss, DJ Hutcherson and Aaron Maisus have done a great job. At the beginning of the year, really only one of those guys had reps at the varsity level, and now, they all are playing very, very well. I know we’ve gotten better defensively through six games.
DuPuis: Through six games, your offensive line — left tackle Brent Smith, left guard Justin Smith, center Cam George, right guard Damian Moo and right tackle Andrew Farish — hasn’t given up any sacks, how have they grown from the first game through the sixth game?
Prosser: They really haven’t; they’ve gotten better certainly, but that’s a group we knew was going to be really solid. They understand the protections, which is the huge thing. It’s one and the same, I mean one: Alex gets the ball out quickly; two: if it does break down, he can create offense by accident; and then three: the kids just understand the protection and their techniques are great.
Coach [Russ] Bolden does a great job with the offense line, in terms of making sure the techniques are sound, and the kids have done a really good job of just understanding what’s asked of them.
And then the other thing is that we are just not in that many third-and-longs; if you’re in third-and-long a lot, you’re going to give up sacks because the defense is in a situation where they can dictate to you. If you’re able to be in good down and distance situations then you’re able to dictate to them.
DuPuis: Finally, what are your team’s goals and expectations for the rest of the season?
Prosser: Our goal is to be 1-0 every week. We really talk about that, I mean it’s corny but we do. We talk about focusing on that week, be the best we can be that week and play well that week. If we play well and someone beats us; hey more power to ‘em.
Obviously the playoffs are a goal the kids want to have, but we talked how we have regular season goals, then once it’s over we will reestablish our goals once the playoffs start.