Loudoun Valley Coach Bruce Sheppard wasn't sure just how to handle his team's sluggishness in the first half of the season finale at Loudoun County Monday. He knew part of it could be attributed to playing on an unconventional night after heavy rain forced the postponement of Friday's kickoff. And because Loudoun Valley had been eliminated from playoff contention, there was less on the line. It also didn't help that senior quarterback Stephen Sheehan was battling an illness that, had it not been the final game of his high school career, likely would have kept him out.
"We were down seven at the half, and I was on the verge of taking Stephen out, even," Sheppard said. "But knowing it was his last game and that he's done everything I've ever asked of him, I just couldn't do it. So instead I asked the whole team to raise the tempo."
The Vikings responded -- particularly on defense -- for a 21-7 victory that capped a 7-3 season.
Included in that second half was a forced fumble on a fake field goal by the Raiders that senior Ben Myers returned nearly 60 yards to set up a Sheehan touchdown run and a 34-yard fumble return for a touchdown by junior Michael Solberg. Those scores were followed by a safety by junior Steven Harvey, who tackled a Loudoun County running back in the end zone after a 45-yard punt by junior Nathan Rathjen pinned the Raiders inside their 2-yard line. Harvey also recovered another fumble late in the game to set up Sheehan's last touchdown run.
Laying the Groundwork
With appreciation in his voice, Dominion Coach Mike Dougherty turned to standout running back C.J. Reaves after Monday's season-ending, 28-19 loss to Heritage and said simply: "C.J., take us out of here one more time."
With that, Reaves, who has been so instrumental in the Titans' development these first two seasons, huddled his teammates together. "You all know this one," said Reaves, who finished the season with 908 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. "Give it to me one more time."
And with a loud shout of "1-2-3 Titans" Reaves and his teammates left the field for the final time, their heads held high despite going winless in the AA Dulles District for the second straight year.
"We told these seniors that people down the road will benefit from what they did here," Dougherty said. "I know that's difficult for them to understand right now, but they really did lay the groundwork. And when they come back from college in a couple of years and we're 8-2 and in the playoffs, they'll know we owe it to them."
In Heritage's huddle, the senior class was being praised for helping the Pride put together its first back-to-back league victories and first league road win in school history.
"Not every team could do what you've done, lose seven straight and still bounce back," Coach Wes Driskill said. "But you did it, and you did it well. I'm proud of all of you."
Falcons Keep Going
Although Fauquier's season came to a disappointing end Saturday against Liberty, the Falcons (4-6 overall, 3-5 Northwestern District) can hold their heads high knowing they never gave up.
Down 21-3 to the Eagles with less than two minutes to play, Coach Tom Ferrell called for a halfback pass on fourth down. Running back Brandon Edwards connected with fully extended quarterback Zach Caito for the first down.
"This team is amazing," said running back Jake Preli, fighting back tears. "They're my brothers. You don't want the season to end. I love them. I'd die for any one of them."
Preli's effort in the loss was indicative of the effort Fauquier put in all season. The junior fullback carried 22 times for 91 yards and was the focus of the Falcons' scoring drive that went 17 plays and took more than nine minutes over the first and second quarters.
Special correspondent Charlie Moss contributed to this report.