Leesburg, Va. — After finishing 10-0 in the regular season to claim the Dulles District title, the Loudoun County High School football team knocked off Handley then Sherando to open postseason play to earn the Captains their first trip to the region championship in the school’s 68-year history.
With seven decades of history behind them, the Captains looked to write their own story in 2022 and stood just a play away from earning a trip to the VHSL Class 4 State playoffs.
After trading scores throughout the fourth quarter, the Captains found themselves down 35-28 with 3:03 to play. From there, Loudoun County senior quarterback Zach Hensch orchestrated a 7-play, 68-yard drive that resulted in a 26-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Joey Fitzpatrick.
Trailing 35-34 with 1:05 left, the Captains elected to go for 2, but Hensch’s lunge into the endzone was stopped just short as the Kettle Run Cougars claimed the VHSL Region 4C championship, 35-34, on November 26 in Leesburg.
“When I took the job, these seniors were sophomores, and we probably put a lot of them on the field that shouldn’t have been on the field, so I kind of feel like we’ve grown up together,” Loudoun County head coach Matt Reidenbaugh said. “Every year, they’ve elevated the program. Last year, we came within a play or two of playing on Thanksgiving weekend, then this year we went 10-0, won the district, and came up a play short in the region championship. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Loudoun County marched through the Dulles District, outscoring opponents by an average score of 34-7 then continued that trend into the VHSL Region 4C tournament, defeating Handley 42-13 before trumping Sherando 49-28.
But the Captains knew the Cougars would be a handful. Led by senior quarterback Abram Chumley and senior receiver Jordan Tapscott, Kettle Run also entered the region championship game undefeated and quickly showed why.
“This senior class was 1-9 as freshmen, so to be able to bounce back, go 13-0, and win a region title, words escape me,” Kettle Run head coach Charlie Porterfield said.
Late in the first quarter Chumley hit Tapscott with a 26-yard touchdown pass to put the Cougars up 7-0.
Hensch answered Chumley’s touchdown pass with one of his own early in the second quarter when he hit Fitzpatrick with a 15-yard touchdown to tie the game up at 7-7.
Then late in the second quarter, Hensch carried in a 2-yard keeper to give the Captains their first lead of the game at 14-7, but Chumley answered with a 6-yard touchdown run just before the half as the teams headed to the locker room knotted up at 14-14.
“The message all week was bend but don’t break,” Porterfield said. “We knew these guys could put points up, and we knew it was going to be back and forth, and we knew it was going to come down to one or two plays.”
Loudoun County received the second half kickoff and capped off their 6-play, 80-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run by senior running back Jason Murray, Jr.
Late in the third quarter, however, Chumley had another answer as he scored on a 8-yard run.
Tied at 21-21, Chumley gave the Cougars the lead back when he scored on a 9-yard run early in the fourth quarter, but that lead lasted less than three minutes as Hensch punched one in from six yards out.
Then, with three minutes to play in the game, Chumley handed the ball to Tapscott, who rolled to his right and delivered a pass right into the hands of senior receiver Trey Western who made his way into the endzone for a 31-yard touchdown to give Kettle Run a 35-28 lead.
“It’s a no brainer. Tapscott’s our guy. We’ve had to find ways to get him the ball. He’s a big time player and has been all year and that didn’t change today,” Porterfield said. “Teams have done the best they can to take him away, and he’s done a really good job finding ways to get open even in double coverage. He’s one of the big reasons we’re here.”
The Captains took over with less than three minutes to play and marched down field to give themselves a chance before coming up just short of the goal line on their two-point conversion attempt.
“Kettle Run is a great team. We knew that. We knew it was going to be this kind of game, but, ultimately, you don’t know how it’s going to unfold,” Reidenbaugh said. “They had a really great game plan for us, and I thought we had a great game plan, too. It was a great high school football game; we just happened to be on the wrong side of it today.”
Loudoun County finishes its 2022 campaign with a 12-1 record, a Dulles District championship trophy, and its first ever trip to the VHSL Region 4C championship game—but after nearly tasting glory, it certainly won’t be their last.
“I’m grateful for the kids,” Reidenbaugh said. “They played like champions. We’ll be back.”
|1Q||4:19||Kettle Run||Abram Chumley to Jordan Tapscott 26-yard TD pass (Andrew Curry PAT)||7-0|
|2Q||10:27||Loudoun County||Zach Hensch to Joey Fitzpatrick 15-yard TD pass (Luke Morrison PAT)||7-7|
|2Q||3:53||Loudoun County||Zach Hensch 2-yard TD run (Luke Morrison PAT)||7-14|
|2Q||0:55||Kettle Run||Abram Chumley 6-yard TD run (Andrew Curry PAT)||14-14|
|3Q||8:43||Loudoun County||Jason Murray, Jr. 4-yard TD run (Luke Morrison PAT)||14-21|
|3Q||3:35||Kettle Run||Abram Chumley 8-yard TD run (Andrew Curry PAT)||21-21|
|4Q||8:42||Kettle Run||Abram Chumley 9-yard TD run (Andrew Curry PAT)||28-21|
|4Q||5:44||Loudoun County||Zach Hensch 6-yard TD run (Luke Morrison PAT)||28-28|
|4Q||3:03||Kettle Run||Jordan Tapscott to Trey Western 31-yard TD pass (Andrew Curry PAT)||35-28|
|4Q||1:05||Loudoun County||Zach Hensch to Joey Fitzpatrick 26-yard TD pass (2pt failed)||35-34|