Leesburg, Va. — It had been nearly two decades since the Loudoun County High School football team earned a win over longtime rival Broad Run. But the Class of 2023 was ready to change that. And when the Spartans lined up to go for it on 4th-and-4 from the Loudoun County 40 on their opening drive of the game, the Captains were ready to make a statement.
“That’s the next step for our program. We were trying to get to the party, and now, we’re at the party, so there are expectations,” Loudoun County head coach Matt Reidenbaugh said. “Expectations are a good thing, so we’re going to embrace them. We want to be at the top, we want everyone’s best shot, because come playoff time, you need these games to be ready for November and December.
After dropping back in the pocket, the Broad Run quarterback raised his throwing arm and tried to make a pass over the middle, but Loudoun County senior linebacker Jackson Snyder was there to bat the ball down and set the defensive tone for the rest of the night.
“Our coaches did a great job of preparing us, then the offense did their job and the defense did their job,” Snyder said. “We just made plays and got the win.”
The Loudoun County defense allowed just a single touchdown late in the second quarter while their offense pounded the ball on the ground, scoring four rushing touchdowns, as the Captains defeated the Spartans, 27-6, earning the first win against their old school rival since 2005.
“We’re really excited because they’re a great program. They have a really smart head coach, so we knew we’d have our hands full,” Reidenbaugh said. “Like we do every week, we leaned on our offensive line and run game and tried to play good defense. The kids stepped up to the challenge. We weren’t perfect tonight, but I thought we attacked it really really well.”
After Snyder and co. forced the turnover on downs on the Spartans’ first drive of the night, the Loudoun County offense took the field as senior running back Jason Murray, Jr. and senior quarterback Zach Hensch quickly got to work. Murray, Jr. picked up 8 yards on his first carry of the night, before Hensch quickly found senior receiver Wesley Celentano on his first pass attempt of the night.
Murray, Jr. and Hensch traded the next few plays, setting up a 2-yard quarterback keeper from Hensch to put the Captains up 7-0.
After the Spartans scored on their next possession, the Loudoun County offense headed back onto the field leading by 1 with less than two minutes to play in the half. The timing was no problem for Hensch as he quickly hit Celentano, senior receiver Braxton Griffin, and senior tight end Joey Fitzpatrick with completions, before connecting with Celentano on a 44-yard pass down to the Broad Run 6.
From there, Murray, Jr. took care of business as he carried in a touchdown from 6 yards out to extend the Captains’ lead to 13-6.
Having closed the first half with a quick score, the Captains got right back to work to open the second half as Murray, Jr. broke free for a 49 yard pick up on the first play of the second half. Two carries later and Murray, Jr. once again found the end zone as Loudoun County created a 2-touchdown lead.
With a 14-point lead, the Loudoun County defense continued to pour on the pressure, holding the Spartans scoreless for the last 25:45 seconds of the game.
“We always just build each other up,” Snyder said. “Even when we’re in the worst position, and they’re on the 1 yard line, we just build each other up, because it’s football and something could go wrong.”
Broad Run had a chance to cut the lead in half late in the third quarter, but Loudoun County senior defensive back Sutton Taliaferro read the quarterback perfectly, jumped a route, and intercepted a pass near the goal line to preserve the 14-point lead.
“That was a huge play. Super happy for Sutton, because he prepared really hard this week at practice,” Reidenbaugh said. “It was a great job by our defense aligning to a really unusual formation. He aligned correctly, read it perfectly, and was in a great position to make a play.”
With less than a minute to play, the Captains put the nail in the coffin when freshman running back Montez Dyson scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to put Loudoun County up 27-6, the score by which they would win.
The convincing win for Loudoun County was just a warm up as this match up with Broad Run will not count towards either teams’ Dulles District record. When the Captains and Spartans take the field in Ashburn on October 28, their district records will be on the line.
“The joke I have with the kids is that every week’s the Super Bowl. We’re going to approach next week just like we did this week,” Reidenbaugh said. “The goal every week is to go 1-0, so it’s on to Loudoun Valley.”
|2Q||10:06||Loudoun County||Zach Hensch 2-yard TD run (Wesley Celentano PAT)||7-0|
|2Q||1:45||Broad Run||Gavin Sidhu 11-yard TD run (PAT failed)||7-6|
|2Q||0:16||Loudoun County||Jason Murray 6-yard TD run (PAT failed)||13-6|
|3Q||10:37||Loudoun County||Jason Murray 3-yard TD run (Wesley Celentano PAT)||20-6|
|4Q||0:49||Loudoun County||Montez Dyson 1-yard TD run (Wesley Celentano PAT)||27-6|