By Owen Gotimer
Leesburg (November 5, 2016) – As a cloud of red, white and blue chalk filled the air, the Heritage High School football team knew they were on their way to a decisive win over rival Loudoun County High School on November 5 in Leesburg. The Pride used a balanced offensive attack to weave through the Raiders’ defense en route to a 37-14 victory, earning a VHSL 4A West region playoff berth in the process.
“Beating a rival is always big. We expected to win, we came out to win,” Heritage senior end Darick Edmond said. “We took care of what we came here for, and now, we’re heading to the playoffs.”
The Pride offense got started early when they marched down the field on their first possession of the game. Heritage senior Alex Carlin took a snap and went straight up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown run five minutes into the first quarter.
The Pride defense’s only real lapse throughout the night came on the Raiders’ ensuing drive when Loudoun County sophomore running back David Harris bounced to the outside before going for a 48-yard run down to the Heritage 4-yard line. Loudoun County junior running back Dom Baah capped off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run just a couple plays later erasing the Heritage lead just a minute after it was established.
However, over the game’s final 42 minutes, the Heritage defense allowed just one more score while causing multiple turnovers.
“Loudoun County can do some things on offense,” Heritage head coach Reed Prosser said. “Our defensive backs did a great job in coverage tonight and made some big plays.”
While the defense gave the offense some premium field position, Carlin continued to carve out the Loudoun County defense throwing for two touchdown passes – one to senior Aaron Maisus for 28 yards and the other to junior Tyrique Moss for 38 yards.
Heritage senior running back John Wooden scored on two short touchdown runs while fellow senior running back Luke Schaub carried a hefty amount of the workload before taking a break in the second half.
Prosser noted that taking care of business and establishing a comfortable lead meant the starters could take a break while the reserves got some much needed playing time.
“Our theme is ‘it’s about us.’ We have to play well and execute and do what we’re supposed to do,” Prosser said. “It doesn’t really matter who we play against. Whether they’re talented or a good team is irrelevant. We just need to focus on us. That’s what we talked about all week. And that’s what we executed tonight.”
No matter how much a coach preaches ‘us’, rivalries create tension. The tension in this match up escalated late in the third quarter as referees tossed yellow flags following a Pride run up the middle and short scuffle between the teams.
After the referees collected their laundry, Carlin responded on the very next play with a 40-yard pass to Edmond down to the Raider 4-yard line setting up Wooden’s second touchdown run.
“It was huge momentum because it let us forget about the play before,” Edmond said. “We focused on that play which helped us get to our big win.”
The Loudoun County Raiders finished the season with a 3-7 record and look forward to getting back to work in the offseason to try and improve next fall.
The Heritage Pride finished the regular season with a 7-3 record, and now await the final VHSL power rankings to see when, where and who they will play in the first round of the playoffs. Our prediction is that No. 10 Heritage will travel to No. 7 George Washington for a VHSL 4A West region first round game in Danville on November 11.
“I’m proud of the kids tonight. It’s a great way to end the season,” Prosser said. “We’re on the right step heading into the playoffs.”
1Q 7:18 H Alex Carlin 1-yard TD run (Henriquez PAT)
1Q 6:16 LC Dominic Baah 3-yard TD run (Carson PAT)
1Q 0:58 H John Wooden 1-yard TD run (PAT failed)
2Q 8:12 H Alex Carlin to Aaron Maisus 28-yard TD pass (Henriquez PAT)
3Q 8:33 H Alex Carlin to Tyrique Moss 38-yard TD pass (Henriquez PAT)
3Q 0:45 H John Wooden 4-yard TD run (Henriquez PAT)
4Q 3:53 H Bryan Henriquez 20-yard FG
3Q 1:25 LC Nick Barts to Dino Coppa 10-yard TD (Carson PAT)