Loudoun Valley 33,
Loudoun County 0
High school football coaches are famous for padding the heights and weights of their players when rosters are made. A couple of inches here, a few pounds there -- it's all standard procedure.
But for Loudoun Valley senior Brock Bell, even 5 feet 4 -- as he is listed on the Vikings' roster -- is an exaggeration.
"Come on, I'm 6-3, baby," Bell said, laughing, after Loudoun Valley's season-opening 33-0 shutout of visiting Loudoun County.
He might indeed have felt that way after rushing for a career-high 215 yards and two touchdowns. Bell, who started at tailback because senior Tommy Schonder had severely sprained his right foot late last week, admitted the form from his official physical reads 5-2 1/2.
"He would have started in the backfield tonight as Tommy's lead blocker -- he's a heck of a blocking back -- but he showed tonight he can get it done with the ball in his hands, too," Vikings Coach Bruce Sheppard said. "He's hard to find in there, hard to stop."
Loudoun Valley held a 12-0 lead with less than three minutes to play in the opening half when Loudoun County senior quarterback Patrick McDonough was intercepted on fourth down at the Vikings' 11-yard line by junior Clyde Kessler.
Coaches had hoped Kessler would just knock the ball down instead of picking it off -- the incompletion on fourth down would have given Loudoun Valley the ball at the 31-yard line -- but Kessler's instinct was to make the grab.
The Vikings staff need not have worried.
Bell burst up the middle and broke free for an 88-yard touchdown run three plays later to give Loudoun Valley a 19-0 lead at halftime.
"That score right there kind of deflated us, I think," Loudoun County Coach Pat McManus said. "We were down 12 with 55 seconds to play and had them pinned deep, and I was feeling pretty good about going into the half like that considering we hadn't been playing very well. Then he breaks one tackle and gets loose. That really hurt."
The Vikings extended their lead in the second half, adding a safety on a sack by senior Sean Robert Clark with 4 minutes 50 seconds left in the third quarter and a touchdown three plays later on an 18-yard reverse by junior Ryan Sheehan. A five-yard touchdown pass from Kessler to sophomore Bryan Oden in the fourth quarter rounded out the scoring.
"We have the ability on offense to throw the ball more, and I know we're going to have to do that," Kessler said. "But when we're getting it done on the ground the way we were tonight, there's no need to."
Bell's 215 yards rushing accounted for much of the Vikings' 342 yards of total offense.
"This just feels amazing," Bell said. "After six long weeks of training, it feels so good to get a win like this. And it just goes to show that when Tommy gets back we'll have a two-back set that can be crazy good."
Note: Schonder, who was wearing a boot to protect his right foot, said he will have it X-rayed again this week as doctors continue to check for a hairline fracture. If none is detected, he could be back on the field next week. . . .
Senior Sam Clay, who battled Kessler for the starting quarterback position throughout the preseason, missed the season opener with a sprained knee and is also questionable for the next game. "When he does come back, we're going to have a heck of a battle at that position because Clyde is doing a great job," Sheppard said.