Loudoun County’s schedule was front-loaded. It’s Week 2 opponent, Tuscarora, entered the season with consecutive undefeated regular seasons and scored the final 27 points of a 55-21 win. The next week, Virginia 4A state title contender Woodgrove stomped the Raiders by 49.
During an 0-3 start, Loudoun County’s 35-man roster stared across at crowded sidelines of teams with the experience gained from success and recent playoff runs. But over the last two weeks, the Raiders have hit their stride and posted consecutive double-digit wins.
“I think everyone practices with a chip on their shoulders since we don’t have good numbers. It motivates us to work harder and get better,” sophomore running back David Harris said. “When we see another team that has more numbers and is a lot bigger, we know we have to come out stronger and execute better.”
Sophomore quarterback Nick Barts practiced with the scout team through Week 1 before taking over under center in the middle of the loss to Leesburg rival Tuscarora.
“I did drills and played scout team and watched and learned the offense. The experience in practice prepared me to start,” Barts said. “We don’t have a big roster, so everyone gets to play and contribute. There’s no standing around at practice.”
With Barts’s move, junior Cameron Corbett switched positions from quarterback to wide receiver. The Raiders run a no-huddle spread offense with a passing game built on bubble screens and quick slants. In a 47-27 win over Park View on Friday night, Loudoun County (2-3) broke off three touchdowns longer than 50 yards.
“We learned from our mistakes in a tough start to the season,” Corbett said. “We start with quick routes and then catch people off guard. The no-huddle is not that fast-paced, but it still makes defenses uncomfortable.”
Against Park View, Harris ran for 154 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. In a 21-6 win over Freedom-South Riding on Sept. 23, Barts tossed three touchdown passes in the first half as Loudoun County’s defense shut out the Eagles until the fourth quarter.
With only six seniors on the roster in Coach Tony Rayburn’s first year at Loudoun County, the Raiders are striving to improve upon their 3-7 record from 2015. As head coach at Handley in Winchester for the previous 14 years, Rayburn learned that self-motivated smaller rosters can find success.
“There’s a learning curve for me and the kids and we’re learning how to fit together,” Rayburn said. “It’s a tight-knit group. I had a team in Winchester that only had 30 kids on the roster and they went out and made the playoffs. You don’t want the numbers where they’re at, but the kids can bond over that and rally around it. I’m excited for what we have here at Loudoun County. The future is bright.”
Average margin of victory for Woodgrove this season. The Wolverines are on the bubble of the Post’s Top 20 rankings after starting the season with five double-digit wins.
From his linebacker position, Block leads a Stone Bridge defense that is allowing only 10 points per game. In a 48-12 win over West Springfield on Friday, the transfer from Briar Woods scored his team-leading eighth touchdown.
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