By Owen Gotimer
Viva Loudoun College Intern
Purcellville (Dec. 2, 2013) – Just two days after Thanksgiving, the Loudoun Valley High School football team had a lot to be thankful for as the Vikings intercepted two early passes that set in motion their 34-6 3A East semifinal victory over Central High School of Woodstock.
The Vikings (11-2) advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 1976 and will host Northside (12-1) at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7. The 3A playoffs cross-bracket their state semifinals so both Loudoun Valley and James Monroe are crowned regional co-champions. No. 4 seed James Monroe upset top seed Lafayette which gave No. 2 Loudoun Valley the home game Saturday.
“Our defense has been a major part of our team, and we’re doing a great job right now,” said senior Matt Regan who intercepted two passes including a 15-yard return for a touchdown just four minutes into the game. “The early score set the level for our defense. It set the tempo for our team so we could continue through to win the game.”
Regan was aided defensively by senior Marcus Oden who intercepted the first pass of the game as Central quarterback Hayden Bauserman dropped back on 1st and 10 from the Falcons’ own 30. Oden added to his postseason interception total as he intercepted Hopewell quarterback Tabyus Taylor in Loudoun Valley’s win in the 3A East region quarterfinal on Nov. 23.
“Every week you almost write the same story,” Loudoun Valley head coach Daniel McGrath. “Hopefully we continue writing that story.”
The major difference from this week to last week for the Vikings was their ground game. Loudoun Valley handed the ball off to junior Andrew Cordani 26 times but the six times senior Brandon Grayson carried the ball made a game-changing impact.
“He’s a special player, special kid. There’s been a lot of special guys come through here but I don’t know if any can compete with a guy like him,” said McGrath of his star Grayson, who is also a first-team all-region linebacker on defense.
With just over three minutes remaining in the first quarter, Grayson took a snap out of the Wildcat formation and ran 65 yards for the Vikings first offensive score of the day. Two drives later Grayson again lined up in the Wildcat where he carried the snap 66 yards for a déjà vu touchdown run.
“It was time to step up,” Grayson said. “On those two runs, I think it really hurt their team, and we got all the momentum.”
Grayson noted the Vikings added several sets to their playbook during practice leading up to their contest with Central and those additions led to touchdowns.
“We went with the Wildcat early, moved around, just a little bit, to try and see if we could get to the weak side of the defense and then attack,” Loudoun Valley assistant coach and offensive shot caller Anthony Long said. “When you have those big plays early on it helps with momentum going through.”
After Grayson’s touchdown runs, Loudoun Valley went back to their game plan running primarily up the middle, handing the ball off to Cordani in his second game back from shoulder injury as he ran for 90 yards and a third quarter touchdown.
“When you’re in 3A you’re playing a lot of teams that have a lot of guys going both ways so we knew their interior had a lot of doubling up so we just tried to grind them out,” Long said.
The Vikings hope to wear out the defense of Northside High School.
“Anytime we can be in the state semifinal game, it’s just special. It’s special for everybody,” McGrath said. “The next four quarters are all you can play for. Can’t wait to see what these guys can do next week.”
Listen to the story here:
Sully Warner 2-for-5, 20 yards, 1 TD
Brandon Grayson 6 carries, 147 yards, 2 TD
Andrew Cordani 26 carries, 90 yards, 1 TD
Elijah Cooper 6 carries, 28 yards
Sully Warner 3 carries
Trey McDyre 1 carry
Ryan Malsch 1 receptions, 10 yards, 1 TD
Patrick Hopkins 1 receptions, 10 yards
1Q 7:18 LV Matt Regan 15-yard interception return (Peart PAT)
1Q 3:35 LV Brandon Grayson 65-yard TD run (Peart PAT)
2Q 8:56 C Daniel Molina 17-yard TD run (PAT blocked)
2Q 8:02 LV Brandon Grayson 66-yard TD run (Peart PAT)
3Q 1:11 LV Andrew Cordani 6-yard TD run (PAT failed)
4Q 6:28 LV Sully Warner to Ryan Malsch 10-yard TD pass (Peart PAT)
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Heritage High School in Leesburg and is currently a sophomore at Syracuse University. Follow Owen on Twitter (@BigO_Gotimer) for up-to-date college signings, scores and more.