For the first three quarters of Heritage's 14-7 loss to Potomac Falls on Friday night, the Pride's offense was like a sputtering car. It moved forward in spurts, but it just couldn't maintain any momentum.

"We had a breakdown here or there that stopped some drives," Heritage Coach Wes Driskill said. "You just can't do that against a good team."

It wasn't until the fourth quarter that the engine in that car began to hum. With the Pride (1-7, 0-5 Dulles) down 14-0 and on its 20-yard line, it methodically marched to the end zone on a 12-play drive.

Heritage had two possessions later in the fourth but failed to tie the game. But although the Pride struggled to put points on the board Friday, its overall offensive performance this season has vastly improved from last year.

In 2003, Heritage's second season as a varsity team and its first in the Dulles District, the Pride was shut out five times and scored fewer than seven points in three other losses. This season, Heritage is putting up more points and is generally more consistent in moving the ball, thanks to a corps of talented players at the skill positions.

Junior quarterback Bryan Brosnan entered Friday's game with 991 yards passing, the second-highest total in the Loudoun area. His leadership has helped the Pride become more consistent on offense.

"You have to have somebody who has confidence, someone who understands what's going on, someone who is gritty enough to just make some things happen and stand in there and take some hits," Driskill said. "I think [Brosnan] has showed a lot of courage and improvement in doing some things. It's his first year starting on varsity, and I think he's handled that pretty well."

One reason Heritage faltered Friday was Brosnan's self-proclaimed worst game of the season. He was 5 of 24 with one touchdown pass and four interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown."I just need to make better decisions about where to put the ball and minimize my turnovers," he said.

Brosnan has a group of gifted players surrounding him. Juniors Chris Smith and Quinn Tibbs (who had the Pride's only touchdown Friday) and senior Chris Hunter each has at least 16 receptions this season. Junior tailback William Bray, who previously had the team's third-highest rushing yardage total, carried 28 times for 183 yards against the Panthers (4-4, 3-2 Dulles).

While the improvements on offense have not translated to many wins this season, Heritage continues to build its program. All of the offensive players except Hunter will be back next season.

"The effort out of almost all the guys is tremendous," Driskill said. "These guys are still fighting, and not everybody can do that."