Joe Larson leaped high to grab an 11-yard touchdown pass midway through the first quarter of No. 7 Park View's 35-0 victory over visiting Loudoun Valley on Friday night. The Patriots' senior blocking back caught the ball with one hand and pulled it in for his first touchdown catch of the season.
The pass "was probably intended for Dustin," a smiling Larson said, referring to junior teammate Dustin Dudinski, who also was in the end zone, three steps behind Larson. "But I'm not going to let him take them all."
Fair enough. The Patriots used a balanced offensive effort to win their eighth game of the year and remain undefeated heading into Friday's showdown with Loudoun County.
A different player scored each of Park View's five touchdowns: Senior running back Nelson Stickley scored on a 40-yard run on his first carry of the game. Larson caught the 11-yard pass from junior quarterback Nick Smith. Smith scored on a four-yard run. Dudinski scored on a 16-yard run. And junior tight end Charles Ramey turned a short dump pass from Smith into a 53-yard score.
"We're peaking in the backfield," Park View Coach Mickey Thompson said. "Offensively, we're running on all cylinders now. A lot of different guys are making plays."
A steady rainfall shortly before game time soaked the field, but the sloppy conditions didn't bother the Patriots and their intricate single wing offense, which often calls for two or three exchanges of the ball.
"We work on that," Larson said. "We have 'wet practices,' where we soak part of the field and practice in four inches of mud. Now, it usually rains once a month, so we get more practice. If you're running the single wing, you have to know how to make it work in any condition."
Senior fullback Ben Cross was the workhorse for Loudoun Valley: He carried the ball 30 times for 168 yards--the first time a player has rushed for more than 100 yards against the Patriots this season--and he caught two passes for 13 yards.
Cross helped the Vikings move the ball against the Park View defense. Loudoun Valley put together three long drives to inside the Patriots 15-yard line, but each time the Vikings came up short. Loudoun Valley was stopped twice on fourth down and fumbled once.
In the end, the Park View defense, led by junior linebackers Kyle Mazaris and Joey Weisen, recorded its fourth shutout.
"We stepped up defensively when we had to," Thompson said. "They have a good offense, and [Cross] is a heck of a back. He's going to make plays. But we hung in there and kept them out of the end zone."
Park View, on the other hand, needed only seven offensive plays to score two touchdowns in the first seven minutes of the game. On Stickley's first two carries, he broke loose for a 40-yard touchdown and then a 26-yard gain. He finished the night with 128 yards--on just nine carries. Dudinski rushed for 81 yards on five carries.
"They do so many things well," Loudoun Valley Coach Mike Barton said. "They're probably the most well-balanced team we've faced, because they can hurt you in so many different ways. They play hard, and they don't make mistakes. They're going to be tough to beat."
Loudoun Valley (4-4, 1-4) 0 0 0 0--0
Park View (8-0, 5-0) 14 7 14 0--35
P--Stickley 40 run (Develli kick)
P--Larson 11 pass from Smith (Develli kick)
P--Smith 4 run (Develli kick)
P--Dudinski 16 run (Develli kick)
P--Ramey 53 pass from Smith (Develli kick)
RUSHING--Loudoun Valley: Cross 30-168, Long 7-5, Austin 4-4. Park View: Stickley 9-128, Smith 8-57, Dudinski 5-81, Larson 3-26.
PASSING--Loudoun Valley: Long 3-10-0 18; Park View: Smith 6-9-1 89.
RECEIVING--Loudoun Valley: Cross 2-13, Austin 1-5; Park View: Ramey 2-67, Stickley 2-15, Larson 2-7.
CAPTION: Loudoun Valley's Steven Todd (34) is flat out of luck trying to tackle Patriots quarterback Nick Smith, who scored on a four-yard run, rushed for 57 yards on eight carries, and completed six of nine passes for 89 yards, two touchdowns.
CAPTION: Tim Murphy undercuts running back Ben Cross, the Vikings workhorse whose 168-yard, 30-carry game did not save Loudoun Valley (4-4, 1-4) from a blowout.
CAPTION: Kevin Culbert tries to wrap up Park View running back Nelson Stickley (44), who finished with 128 yards on nine carries, including a 40-yard touchdown to open Patriots' scoring in a 35-0 victory. With the victory, seventh-ranked Park View improved to 8-0, 5-0.