Leesburg, Va. — The oldest high school football team in Loudoun County is off to its best start since 2009. After dispatching Fauquier to open its season, Loudoun County High School fended off a late push from Millbrook on August 30 then cruised past Rock Ridge on September 7. In front of a home crowd on September 12, the Raiders used two first quarter interceptions and a pair of blocked punts to shutout the visiting Freedom Eagles, 48-0, and improve to 4-0 under the Wednesday Night Lights.
“We’re not the biggest on defense, but we run to the ball pretty well,” Loudoun County head coach Tony Rayburn said. “Our defense has played really well this year, for the most part. But we have to improve our tackling if we’re going to compete at a high level.”
The Raiders defense was active early against Freedom as Loudoun County senior defensive back Derek McCandless caught a pair of first quarter interceptions that flipped the field position and put the Raiders offense in motion.
From there, Loudoun County senior quarterback Nick Barts piloted his offense downfield, connecting on two first quarter touchdown passes – both to sophomore receiver Tariq Sims. In between the touchdown passes, Loudoun County junior running back Josh Pettiford scored his first of two rushing touchdowns for the Raiders.
Already leading 35-0, Barts found Sims for another 25-yard touchdown connection early in the third quarter.
“You have to have pretty good players to win, and we have some kids that are pretty good football players,” Rayburn said. “Hopefully, we’re improving each week. You have to have confidence, and you have to have a positive environment. We do, and we’re having fun.”
While the offense and defense cruised, the Raiders’ special teams made a statement as well. Loudoun County senior kicker Cam Carson was 6-for-6 on extra point attempts and forced four touchbacks. Freshman punter Jimmy Kibble pinned Freedom inside its own 1-yard line late in the first half. Senior lineman Kyle Towne led a defensive front that helped force two blocked punts. And junior linebacker Lucas McAllister scooped up one of those blocked punts in the endzone for a touchdown early in the second quarter.
“Obviously getting an easy score like that on special teams is a huge spark,” Rayburn said. “We’re fortunate to have Cam Carson and Jimmy Kibble, who do a good job kicking for us. We take time to really focus on special teams, and it paid off tonight.”
Coming off the shutout, Loudoun County (4-0) is going to need all three units to mesh again on September 21 as they host Riverside (3-0) in their first Dulles District match up of the season. Freedom (0-3) will look to bounce back when they host Potomac Falls (3-1) on September 21.
“Riverside is a great team. Offensively, they run a lot of personnel packages. Defensively, they’re the best team we’ve seen by far. They’re going to give us a lot of challenges,” Rayburn said. “You play football to play in a game like that. We’re looking forward to the opportunity.”
1Q 10:00 LC Nick Barts to Tariq Sims 25-yard TD pass (Carson PAT)
1Q 6:10 LC Josh Pettiford 5-yard TD run (Carson PAT)
1Q 3:10 LC Nick Barts to Tariq Sims 5-yard TD pass (Carson PAT)
2Q 10:43 LC Lucas McAllister punt block recovery TD (Carson PAT)
2Q 1:22 LC Josh Pettiford 7-yard TD run (Carson PAT)
3Q 8:37 LC Nick Barts to Tariq Sims 25-yard TD pass (Carson PAT)
4Q 4:39 LC Joshua Vincent 25-yard TD run (PAT blocked)