Loudoun County 10
Heritage senior Matt Lucas stood in the middle of Loudoun County's field Friday night with his helmet and shoulder pads in his hands and smiling as he took in some of his teammates' celebration. Lucas was cold and dirty and worn out.
He also was satisfied.
The Pride avenged its earlier nondistrict loss to the Raiders with a decisive 35-10 victory in the regular season finale for both teams. The win allowed Heritage to maintain possession of the Cheers Sports Trophy that is on the line for the two nearby rivals for each district meeting and, more important, earned the Pride a share of a much larger prize -- its first AA Dulles District title.
Heritage (7-3, 4-1) is the only Dulles District team to finish its regular season with a winning record.
"You made history tonight," Coach Wes Driskill told his team. "And you proved it convincingly. You deserve every bit of this success. This night is going to be something to remember later on in life. And it came as a result of the teamwork, leadership and sacrifice that you put in. We lost three straight there in the middle of the year, and things really could have gone bad. But you didn't let it, and you should be very proud of that. Not every team could come back and get itself right the way that you did."
The three losses were enough to keep the Pride out of the playoffs. Co-champion Park View, with a 5-5 overall record, also finished 4-1 in the district and had more points in the Virginia High School League points system that determines, in the event of a tie in the district standings, which team advances to the Virginia AA Region II Division 4 playoffs.
"It's emotional, for starters, because we were 3-7 a year ago," said Lucas, whose team was a combined 8-22 in its first three years. "So this year has been a complete turnaround. We showed our heart, and we made history for our school. We're the first senior class to go all four years through Heritage, and we were determined to get it right before we moved on.
"But it's tough, too, not getting a shot at the playoffs. But at least we've got that district championship trophy to say 'This is who we are.' "
Friday, the Pride also showed it is not just a finesse passing team. Though Heritage has found much success throwing this season behind senior quarterback Bryan Brosnan (1,454 yards, 17 touchdowns), in this game Lucas and fellow running back Chris Smith, another senior, were the focus.
"We had to prove we're a balanced team and that we're a tough team," Lucas said. "Every year people have been questioning our toughness. This was our statement game."
Lucas set the game's tempo, rushing the ball 24 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Smith added 60 yards and another score and also caught two passes out of the backfield for 34 yards and a touchdown. The Pride also benefited from harassing the Raiders' offense into five turnovers.
It was a stark change from their first meeting in September, when Loudoun County (4-6, 2-3) held three Pride running backs to a combined 86 yards rushing in a 27-19 loss.
"Loudoun County is the team, really, that knocked us out of the playoffs by beating us early on," Smith said. "And we came back, against them, to win our fourth in a row and make school history. Playoffs or not, I'm proud to be a part of that."