Sat. Apr 1st, 2023

Loudoun County Coach Matt Reidenbaugh laughs when he hears his offensive line described as a “cast of characters.”

“Yeah, that’s a perfect phrase,” Reidenbaugh said.

The Captains will enter Friday’s game against No. 18 Tuscarora with a 4-0 record, largely thanks to its prosperity in the trenches. The unit’s success comes down to a simple moniker, best represented by its aptly named group chat, “IHOP season.”

“I mean, our mentality is just to get pancakes,” said senior center Evan Stanley, who said assistant coach Mike Mitchell keeps a “pancake chart” that counts how many times the team blocks a defender to the ground. Through four games the Captains have 46 pancakes, and senior Stuart McGuinness holds the lead with 20.

For Loudoun County, a rushing attack isn’t so much a nicety as it is a necessity, a prerequisite for the brand of football that’s conducive to frigid postseason nights. And yet, the county’s oldest program — which Reidenbaugh describes as a “sleeping giant” — hasn’t made it past the second round of the playoffs since 2012.

Loudoun County could have the credentials (and personality) to break through in Class 4 on the strength of its line. The group includes Stanley, the dancer and communicator; McGuinness, the extroverted leader; junior Blaine Colebank, the shortest and funniest; and juniors Chase Kibble and Sammy Holstead, who offer calm perspectives.

The linemen are inseparable. They often meet up for “bro dates” to grab wings. During Saturday morning yoga, two linemen have taken to wearing robes, and they said it’s only a matter of time before that’s line-wide attire.

“Practice is very funny — and yeah, we take the drills seriously,” McGuinness said. “But we’re always doing new handshakes, making jokes with our signals; we just make the game more fun … We play very physical, but we’re all really just a bunch of jokesters.”

Flowers keeps eyes on prize

As C.H. Flowers players walked off the field following their 54-7 win over Bowie on Saturday, their subdued demeanor seemed unfitting for a team that had just finished off a nearly flawless performance.

While the victory was impressive, September dominance has lost its luster for mainstays such as four-star defensive back Braydon Lee. What once was a reason to celebrate has become the expectation.

“I think we’ve been a lot more chill this season because we realize that like our coaches have been telling us, we are the only public school in Maryland that can beat us,” Lee said. “Most of our team from last year [which reached the 4A quarterfinals] is back, plus we added a few guys from private schools. As long as we continue to play for one another and do the little things, we’ll have way bigger wins to celebrate in November and December.”

The Jaguars (4-0) know the true tests await, such as an Oct. 7 meeting against perennial championship contender Wise, a team Wise has never beat.

In previous seasons, Flowers treated the Wise game like its state championship. The Jaguars would circle the date of the game on their calendar and constantly compare their level of play to that of the Pumas. Lee said that’s no longer the case.

“We aren’t really thinking about them in that way this season,” Lee said. “And I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. We know they have some dogs and that they have an amazing team, but so do we. There will be a lot of hype and trash talk leading up to that one, but the goal for our season isn’t to beat them, it’s to win a state championship. But obviously if we can beat them on the way to a [championship], that’d be real cool, too.”

Todd Lattimore Jr., Northern: The senior quarterback threw for 307 yards and totaled three touchdowns as the Patriots topped St. Charles in a battle of undefeated Southern Maryland Athletic Conference teams.

For high school QBs, learning playbook is a new form of summer school

Joshua Narh, Duval: The senior utility player had 119 yards and two touchdowns on five carries, as the Tigers beat Northwestern, 62-0, to extend their winning streak to three games.

Jordan Dennis, South County: The junior quarterback returned from an injury that kept him out of Stallions’ Sept. 16 loss and threw for 241 yards and five touchdowns in a 61-6 rout of Justice.

Roman Jensen, Maret: The junior quarterback threw for 237 yards and five touchdowns in the Frogs’ 40-7 win over Severn.

Bell at Coolidge, Friday, 6 p.m.

Quince Orchard at Seneca Valley, Friday 6:30

Broad Run at Stone Bridge, Friday, 7 p.m.

Archbishop Spalding at Pallotti, Friday, 7 p.m.

Flint Hill nabs first win in three years

As Flint Hill players sprinted and jumped across Collegiate School’s field in celebration Friday evening, running back Andrew King found Coach Kirk Peterson near the sideline. There, they hugged and cried for about two minutes.

King and Peterson had envisioned their first win with Flint Hill since August 2021. After 11 losses, their vision became a reality in Flint Hill’s 37-28 triumph in Richmond. It was the Oakton private school’s first victory since November 2019 and snapped a 13-game losing streak.

“I hadn’t been that happy in a long time,” said King, who rushed for 215 yards and two touchdowns. “We just let all our emotions out. When I hugged Coach P, it was like, ‘Man, we really did it. This is really the start of a new journey at Flint Hill.’ ”

King felt despair after Flint Hill’s nine losses last season. While the junior was also disappointed after the Huskies’ opening pair of losses this month, optimism remained. After Flint Hill (1-2) added talent over the offseason, King believed the Huskies were close to a victory.

Flint Hill’s players preached belief throughout practices last week, and they yelled that word on the sideline Friday. Afterward, players returned to their locker room to dance to hip-hop music for the first time after a game.

“It really did take me a minute to process it because I had not felt the feeling of winning a football game in a very long time,” King said. “It’s a moment I’ll never forget.”

Poolesville rides a roller coaster to 4-0

Late on Friday night, the Poolesville Falcons gathered for a picture on the home field they had just defended. Still covered in sweat and grass, they posed together with four fingers in the air.

Through four weeks of the high school football season, Poolesville is 4-0. It’s the first time the program has achieved that kind of start since 2005, and the road to such a record has been a roller coaster.

On Friday, the Falcons won their second overtime game of the season by beating Rockville, 22-21. The night began with a series of unfortunate events as the Falcons derailed an otherwise efficient offense with three turnovers in the first half. They trailed the Rams 15-0 at the break.

“At halftime, I told them we were moving the ball well, we just had to clean things up” Falcons Coach Tony Nazzaro said. “And then we opened the second half with a fumble.”

The third quarter provided salvation for Poolesville. It put up 15 points to tie the game, and that score stood until the end of regulation. Rockville scored first in overtime but failed on a two-point conversion. Poolesville responded with a touchdown and won the game on a successful extra point.

“And that’s not a given on this level,” Nazzaro said. “I give credit to our holder who handled a slightly high snap. Everyone got it done.”

That seems to be the theme for this Poolesville team: getting it done, however possible. Even as the Falcons keep a wide-angle lens on this season, Nazzaro has emphasized enjoying every victory. As the program well knows, it’s hard to get it done this often.

“At the end of the day these are high school kids,” Nazzaro said. “I want them to enjoy all of it.”

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