Handley High School senior quarterback Lang Campbell calls his teammate Adam Woods "the ultimate role player." But if Woods can continue to string together the kind of performances he had in the Judges' 28-20 victory at Loudoun Valley last night, the senior running back might eventually gain star billing.
Woods rushed for 143 yards on 15 carries and scored three touchdowns--of 6, 47 and 42 yards--in the Virginia AA Northwestern District season opener for both teams, which were undefeated entering the game.
Last season, when Handley advanced to the Group AA Division 3 semifinals, the Judges' running game relied on a big fullback, Patrick Burks. Burks graduated, leaving the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Woods to carry the load and prevent teams from focusing on stopping the Judges' solid passing attack.
"When Adam is running that well, the defense has a tough choice--stop the run or stop the pass. It really helps me out," said Campbell, who completed 11 of 24 passes for 196 yards, and threw one interception and one touchdown pass.
"We knew that we had something in Adam," Campbell said. "He's the ultimate role player, because last year he blocked for Burks the whole season. He's proving himself this year."
Woods has rushed for 463 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Last night, his 42-yard touchdown run, in which he bounced off several Loudoun Valley defenders, gave the Judges a 28-20 lead with 3 minutes 22 seconds left in the game.
"Last year, it didn't matter that I didn't get to run the ball because we were winning all the time," Woods said. "Now I'm getting the ball every game, and that gives me a lot of confidence. Our offensive line has been outstanding."
Loudoun Valley was led by senior fullback Ben Cross. Despite facing a Handley defense intent on stopping him, Cross rushed for 167 yards on 30 carries, and scored two touchdowns (of 15 and 54 yards). The Vikings' senior quarterback Anthony Long scored on an 80-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter.
The Vikings, who had won six games in a row dating to last season before last night's game, ran out of gas at the end and couldn't stop both Woods and Campbell.
"We knew that Woods was tough going into the game," Loudoun Valley Coach Mike Barton said. "We knew that we couldn't just stop Lang Campbell. Woods is a back; he is a strong, fast kid. Very few high school teams can do what Handley is doing--they can hurt you in both areas [passing and running]."
CAPTION: Handley's Lang Campbell drives against Loudoun Valley defenders Kevin Culbert (20) and Gennaro Budesheim.
CAPTION: Loudoun Valley running back Ben Cross fends off Handley's Michael Duane to get outside for some of his 167 yards rushing on 30 carries.