The Loudoun County offense is a work in progress, and Coach Pat McManus is hoping an experienced defense will give the offense a chance to mature.
Only three offensive starters return, and that includes senior fullback Doug Poland, who is sidelined with a broken arm for the first six weeks of the season. The starting backfield is completely new: Sophomore quarterback Grant Harris was a defensive back last year, while junior fullback Chris Geaneas and junior running back Chris Hughes had a combined five carries in 1998.
The offensive line, which features two returning starters and three players who were reserves last year, has the potential, according to McManus, to be the best one he has had.
The Raiders are in good shape defensively, with seven starters back. Loudoun County's defensive line is big, extremely strong and experienced. Seniors Eric Gaskins, Taylor Ashby, Jason Spring and Michael Stocks are three-year starters, and each can bench-press more than 300 pounds.
"If our defense gives us time so our offense can get better, we should be okay," McManus said. "If our defense can keep us in games, our offense should be right there by the third or fourth week. When we've had the opposite situation--everyone back on offense--we expect to start with a ball of fire. Now, we're just looking to get better each week."
PK Cary Greenfield (5-9, 150, Sr.)--Greenfield's experience and consistency should help the relatively inexperienced offense score points. He made five of nine field goals last season, including a 42-yarder. "He adds to our offensive capabilities," McManus said. "If we can get the ball close, we feel like we'll come away with some points."
Other offensive players to watch: T Jason Spring, Sr.; T Michael Stocks, Sr.; G Ryan Turner, Sr.; G Blake Fairchild, Sr.; C Kevin Sailor, Sr.; QB Grant Harris, Soph.
DT Jason Spring (6-4, 245, Sr.)--McManus thinks this could be Spring's breakout season on defense. In the Raiders' scrimmage against Osbourn, "every play [Spring] made was a highlight play," McManus said. Spring is extremely quick and strong (he benches 315 pounds).
Other defensive players to watch: DE Eric Gaskins, Sr.; DT Taylor Ashby, Sr.; DE Michael Stocks, Sr.; LB Danny Romero, Jr.; DB Grant Harris, Soph.; DB Chris Hughes, Jr.; LB Chris Geaneas, Jr.
* District/Division: Group AA Northwestern/Division 4.
* Coach: Pat McManus, ninth season.
* Last year's record: 6-4 overall, 4-3 district.
* Most recent playoff appearance: 1996.
* Starters returning (offense/defense): 3/7.
29 at Jefferson County 7
Loudoun Valley, 7:30
at Warren County, 7:30
at Potomac Falls, 7:30
Broad Run, 1:30
at Handley, 1:30
Park View, 7:30
at Loudoun Valley, 7:30
31 at Loudoun Valley 0
17 Hedgesville (W. Va.) 21
38 at Jefferson Co. 15
35 Warren Co. 14
42 Fauquier 17
31 at Sherando 10
10 Handley 27
21 at Liberty 28
28 at James Wood 13
16 Loudoun Valley 21
CAPTION: Loudoun County junior defensive end Eric Gaskins is a three-year starter who bench-presses more than 300 pounds and anchors a unit that returns seven starters, including three other linemen.