It is sometimes easy to miss Dustin Dudinski on the football field; the Park View High School junior stands only 5 feet 6 and is usually caught in the middle of a sea of larger players.
But every once in a while, Dudinski breaks a big play. On Friday night, in the Patriots' season opener, he caught two touchdown passes in Park View's 48-0 victory over visiting Sherando.
This was a nondistrict game; Sherando has moved up to Group AAA Commonwealth District, while Park View has returned to the AA Northwestern District after spending three years in the AAA Liberty District.
Sherando had one of the top programs in AA from 1995--coincidentally, the last time these teams met--to 1998. The Warriors beat Park View, 23-9, in the Region II Division 4 final in 1995, to win the first of their three consecutive regional titles. Last year, Sherando lost in the regional final to Liberty.
But this is something of a rebuilding year for the Warriors. Only one starter--senior tight end Chris Helmick--is back from last year's team, which won nine games. This is not a rebuilding year for the Patriots, who have 14 returning starters; this is a year the players have dreams of a state championship.
"Everybody has been saying that we're a good football team; tonight, we had to go out and prove it," Park View Coach Mickey Thompson said. "We haven't lost anything on offense [from last year's high-scoring team], and our defense is better. We'll get better from here. . . .
"Tonight couldn't have been any better," Thompson added. "A lot of people got to play, a lot of people did well. We made some mistakes, but they're mistakes that we can correct with a bit of little coaching."
The defense dominated Sherando's inexperienced offense, forcing two fumbles and intercepting one pass. Offensively, the Patriots were stopped only once. Park View amassed 511 yards of total offense, and spread the ball around--nine players carried the ball, four players caught a pass, and four players scored touchdowns.
Senior running back Nelson Stickley, who rushed for 1,836 yards in 1998, carried the ball 20 times for 136 yards and two touchdowns (including a 46-yarder in the fourth quarter). Junior quarterback Nick Smith--who was slowed by a sprained left ankle and found out he was going to play only 30 minutes before kickoff--completed six of nine passes for 177 yards.
Dudinski sat on the bench and watched most of the second half because he was dehydrated. Dudinski already had done his job with two first-half touchdowns; he is the "fake man" in the Patriots' single wing offense.
"I do a lot of fakes, trying to get people to follow me," Dudinski said. "That sets up the other players. The defense doesn't know if we're going to pound the ball or do something different. My role is basically deception."
With 34 seconds left in the first quarter, Smith found Dudinski wide open on the right side for a 39-yard touchdown and the game's first points. Late in the second quarter, Smith again found Dudinski--this time, on the left side--for a 45-yard touchdown. Dudinski slipped one tackle and spun out of another one before reaching the end zone.
"Dustin is a big-play guy," Thompson said. "He's become Nick's favorite receiver, and our guys feel that any time Dustin gets his hands on the ball, he has the potential to do something. He has to be disciplined [to do the fakes]. Eighty percent of what he does is preparation for the big play."
Park View (1-0)
PV--Dudinski 39 pass from Smith (Develli kick)
PV--Stickley 2 run (Develli kick)
PV--Dudinski 45 pass from Smith (Develli kick)
PV--Larson 1 run (Develli kick)
PV--Murphy 2 run (kick blocked)
PV--Chester 50 run (Develli kick)
PV--Stickley 46 run (Develli kick)
LEADING RUSHERS--S: Garman 14-42; PV: Stickley 20-136.
LEADING PASSERS--S: Campbell 1-5-1 60; PV: Smith 6-9-0 177.
LEADING RECEIVERS--S: Demus 1-60; PV: Dudinski 2-84.
LOUDOUN COUNTY 29,
JEFFERSON COUNTY (W.Va.) 7
Highlights: Place kicker Cary Greenfield kicked five field goals, including a 47-yarder, in Loudoun County's season-opener. Greenfield also completed two extra-point attempts. The Raiders' Chris Geaneas was the top rusher for the game, scoring one touchdown and accumulating 117 yards on 23 carries.
Notable: Loudoun County accumulated 273 yards of total offense and recovered three fumbles.
Loudoun County (1-0)
Jefferson County (0-1)
LC--Geaneas 23 run
LC--Greenfield 38 kick
JC--Wilcox 60 pass from Hyre (Webb kick)
LC--Greenfield 47 kick
LC--Greenfield 39 kick
LC--Harris 7 run (Greenfield kick)
LC--Greenfield 25 kick
LC--Greenfield 44 kick
RUSHING--LC: Geaneas 23-117, Hughes 14-66; JC: Hyre 2-20.
PASSING--LC: Harris 2-5-0 41; JC: Hyre 6-20-4 135.
RECEIVING--LC: Bradley 1-26; JC: Wilcox 2-64.
Clarke County at Potomac Falls, 7:30
Liberty at Fauquier, 7:30
Loudoun Valley at Loudoun County, 7:30
Osbourn Park at Broad Run, 7:30