After a scoreless slobberknocker through almost the entire first half, Wolverines wear down rival Vikings to win going away.
Final score –
Woodgrove Wolverines (9-1) 0 7 14 7 = 28
Loudoun Valley Vikings (7-3) 0 0 0 8 = 8
2 / 0:16.2 – Woodgrove TD (Charlie Clewis 1-yd run; Cameron Gieseman kick)
3 / 6:22 – Woodgrove TD (Mike Kovich 48-yd pass to Mason Gryniuk; Cameron Gieseman kick)
3 / 1:28 – Woodgrove TD (Mike Kovich 19-yd run; Cameron Gieseman kick)
4 / 11:39 – Loudoun Valley TD (Nick Kallivokas 17-yd pass to Duron Norris; Tyler Hunt 2-pt run)
4 / 3:07 – Woodgrove TD (Charlie Clewis 17-yd run; Cameron Gieseman kick)
Loudoun Valley High School, Purcellville, Va. (November 6, 2015) — What do rivalry football games have in common with a box of chocolates?
You never know what you’re gonna get.
We thought we knew. The consensus up in the press box atop a buzzingly electric Leonard Stadium was that we would witness a high-scoring affair between two offenses with dynamic QBs and versatile weapons both in tight and out wide, and we press-types had pencils and laptops poised to record all the scores.
Shows what we know. Instead of touchdowns, we noted tackles; instead of big plays, we saw big hits…at least, that was the story of the first half in this annual Purcellville showdown between the homestanding Loudoun Valley Vikings and their Woodgrove Wolverine neighbors.
Almost impossibly, no one managed any points through the first 23 minutes, 43.8 seconds of game time. There was plenty to look at, however – especially if you like two-yard dives, incomplete passes and punt formations. It was tough going for both offenses, because both defenses were so tough.
“I thought we had a good [defensive] scheme. The kids did a real nice job,” said Woodgrove head coach Mike Skinner. “Our secondary coach did a nice job of switching, and we ran some nice coverages, soft zone, man-under. I think we confused them a little bit.”
Both coaches were fully aware of the dangers presented by the opposing offenses.
“Our defense played well enough to win this game. Our offense just didn’t make plays that we normally do,” said Valley head coach Anthony Long. “Our defense played well enough for us to get the lead early. It would have been huge for us to get an early lead.”
The Vikings stemmed an early attempt at Woodgrove momentum, holding off their neighbors’ initial drive inside the Valley 10. Thereafter, it was: Valley punt; Woodgrove punt; Valley punt (though the Wolverines’ Chima Kpaduwa made a touchdown-saving ankle tackle of Jordan Elam in open secondary space); Woodgrove punt; Valley punt; Woodgrove turnover on downs; Valley punt.
The mutual scoring drought finally ended with 16.2 seconds left before halftime, when Woodgrove senior running back Charlie Clewis took it in from less than a yard out, sauntering untouched off right tackle as the Valley defense sold out to prevent a quarterback sneak.
But what really seemed to lift the offensive lid, at least from the Wolverines’ perspective, occurred earlier in that drive. Woodgrove junior quarterback Mike Kovich lofted one some 20 yards over the top, perfect for Anthony Williams to run under and snag in over-the-shoulder fashion for a field-flipping 41-yard gain.
“We missed a couple easy throws, but for Mike Kovich, it’s his first time playing in this atmosphere,” Skinner said. “He really settled down…. And what can you say about Charlie Clewis? He’s just a damn warrior.”
Suddenly re-discovering their standard big-play potential, the Wolverines were an offensive juggernaut during their first couple drives of the second half. Behind Woodgrove’s unbelievably massive linemen, Clewis’s runs of one or two yards stretched out to four or eight as the Valley front began to wear down noticeably.
“That’s the strength of this team, baby,” said Woodgrove senior Clay Dean of the offensive line he helps anchor. “Four years, that’s always been the strength of this team.”
After feeding their opponents a steady Clewis diet, Kovich stood in the pocket and took a hit as he threw deep to junior wideout Mason Gryniuk, who had a one-step lead on the Vikings’ secondary. Gryniuk used that lead to reach paydirt, racing the final 15 yards of a 48-yard scoring strike.
Next possession, Kovich did the honors himself. Punctuating a ground-based drive accelerated by a 24-yard pass to Mikey Bryant, Kovich followed the left side of his line to open space and cruised in from 19 yards away.
Down three scores with one quarter to go, the Vikings discovered new territory when junior signal-caller Nick Kallivokas took to the air. Using some shifty improvisation skills, he passed his team down the field, culminating in a pretty delivery to Duron Norris in the deep corner of the end zone, dropping it straight into Norris’s arm-basket.
Tyler Hunt was sent on a jet sweep around the left side to add two more points. The crowd roared; momentum was clearly in favor of the home team.
Elam, in his other role as a defensive back, kept the mo’ going with an interception of a deep Kovich throw, returning it a zigzagging 40 yards to midfield. The crowd roared even more.
They cheered again when Kallivokas somehow avoided a sack on 4th-&-4, somehow finding Norris free and somehow flipping it to him for a first down.
“We knew coming in that if you scramble against this team, they’re very good at pursuing,” Long said. “But we showed that our guys were ready to fight and compete all the way through. I think that will help us roll into the playoffs, big time.”
Valley’s comeback hopes took a huge hit when Woodgrove’s Williams picked off a Kallivokas shot to the end zone, outjumping Trey McDyre for control.
With half a quarter to go, it became The Charlie Clewis Show. The big bruising runner, led by his big bruising line, took care of every snap as the Wolverines melted the clock away. The Valley defense tiring, Clewis busted off a 27-yard scamper to set up his 17-yard dash for the final score of the rivalry tilt.
“We expect to go far,” said Dean, looking ahead to the impending playoffs as he and his teammates filed onto the bus. “This team is special.”
Kallivokas was under seige all night, especially in the second half when he had to throw every down and Woodgrove knew it. Despite impressive footwork to extricate himself from backfield jams, he still absorbed six sacks for a total of 41 yards lost.
Woodgrove’s Zack Lockhart was in on three of those sacks, while fellow senior linebacker Gunner Hilling brought Kallivokas down twice.
Starring on the defensive side for Valley was senior linebacker Sawyer Brill, unavailable the previous couple weeks with injury. He stepped up to make tackle after tackle on Clewis, especially early on when the gaps weren’t so large.
Both teams’ rosters are littered with former Bandits from their Upper Loudoun Youth Football League days, including McDyre, Clewis, Kovich and innumerable others, little kids turned big kids.
Great weather, great atmosphere
The place was packed, both sets of grandstands full to overflowing with the green of Loudoun Valley or the green of Woodgrove. Fans lined the fences extending toward the end zones, the crowd wrapping around to the other side.
The Viking students sported their black-out gear, while their Wolverine counterparts went with the white-out. Each school’s band took center stage during the halftime festivities, and prior to kickoff, the reverb of dueling motorcycles cascaded around the stadium as a pair of flag-waving hogs led the Vikings onto the gridiron.
Temperature at gametime was an unseasonable 75 degrees with a slight breeze, and it appeared that a sizable chunk of Purcellville had gathered in one spot to share a Friday night tradition.
Between the first and second quarters, Loudoun Valley publicly honored three sports teams who’d brought home state championships in the past year. The Vikings’ golf, boys’ track and boys’ lacrosse squads were recognized before the large, appreciative audience.
Woodgrove stats –
Rushing: Charlie Clewis 28-162, 2 TDs; Mike Kovich 17-70, 1 TD; Mikey Bryant 5-39; Chima Kpaduwa 4-13; Kevin Burke 1-2; Mason Gryniuk 1-(-1)
Passing: Mike Kovich 9 of 21 for 171, 1 TD, 1 INT
Receiving: Mason Gryniuk 3-66, 1 TD; Mikey Bryant 4-54; Anthony Williams 1-41; Cole Rosick 1-10
Loudoun Valley stats –
Rushing: Joe LaFonte 2-3; Trey McDyre 4-1; Tyler Hunt 2-(-7); Nick Kallivokas 8-(-19)
Passing: Nick Kallivokas 18 of 33 for 229, 1 TD, 1 INT
Receiving: Duron Norris 9-95, 1 TD; Joe LaFonte 2-50; Sam Allen 3-33; Jordan Elam 1-27; Tyler Hunt 1-10; Sean Eagen 1-8; Trey McDyre 1-6
Other scores –
Tuscarora 43, Broad Run 42
Loudoun County 43, Heritage 41
Stone Bridge 28, Briar Woods 17
John Champe 46, Freedom 7
Dominion 59, Park View 0
Potomac Falls 38, Edison 7
Off week for: Rock Ridge; Riverside
VivaLoudoun: We Live For Loudoun™
Written by Jason S Rufner
for Viva Loudoun Media Communications