With lopsided shellacking, Woodgrove spoils perfection and Homecoming for Heritage.
Final score –
Woodgrove Wolverines (6-1) 21 21 7 0 = 49
Heritage Pride (6-1) 7 0 0 0 = 7
1 / 11:40 – Woodgrove TD (Charlie Clewis 57-yd run; Cameron Gieseman kick)
1 / 6:00 – Heritage TD (Alex Carlin 17-yd pass to Cole Miller; Andrés Villalon kick)
1 / 2:18 – Woodgrove TD (Mike Kovich 33-yd pass to Mason Gryniuk; Cameron Gieseman kick)
1 / 1:02 – Woodgrove TD (Mike Kovich 28-yd run; Cameron Gieseman kick)
2 / 9:26 – Woodgrove TD (Charlie Clewis 6-yd run; Cameron Gieseman kick)
2 / 3:40 – Woodgrove TD (Mike Kovich 17-yd run; Cameron Gieseman kick)
2 / 0:33 – Woodgrove TD (Charlie Clewis 6-yd run; Cameron Gieseman kick)
3 / 7:51 – Woodgrove TD (Mike Kovich 5-yd run; Cameron Gieseman kick)
Heritage High School, Leesburg, Va. (October 16, 2015) — In so many ways, the sport of football is a study in momentum. Some games, things can start going one way, then flip around to the other, then get knocked back again…and some games, when the boulder tips over and rolls downhill, there’s not much that can be done to stop it.
That was the case when the once-beaten Woodgrove Wolverines traveled to Leesburg to face the undefeated Heritage Pride in a 4A West Region showdown. Heritage carried all the hoopla and excitement of a packed house for their Homecoming extravaganza, boasting one of the school’s most talented squads in years.
But the visitors from Purcellville, as it turned out, carried the momentum. Pretty much from start to finish.
Downhill is precisely the word to describe the Woodgrove ground game. Operating behind a gargantuan offensive line headed by 320-pound Hunter Smith, 290-pound Jake Wernle, 270-pound Connor McNeilly and other big dudes, the Wolverines amassed more than 400 yards simply by snapping it to a runner and letting him pick a hole created by the mashing monsters up front.
“Them country boys are big, now,” smiled Woodgrove head coach Mike Skinner. “When we come downhill atcha, that’s our plan. We’re big, strong, a weight-room team, and our kids have bought in.”
The backfield duo of quarterback Mike Kovich and running back Charlie Clewis were the main beneficiaries of Woodgrove’s girth advantage. Those two notched three TDs apiece, going around one end or the other to reach open space and hit the jets.
Clewis set the game’s tone right after the opening bell. While many fans were still seeking precious spaces in the jam-packed parking lot, the swift senior took the game’s first snap straight up the gut, surging past the line and racing over half the field’s length to paydirt. The game was just 20 seconds old.
“Our o-line was just dominating. They work their tails off day in and day out. They don’t get some of the fame that the skill players do, but they deserve it more than anybody,” Clewis complimented his buddies. “We could pass the ball, we could run it, we were just clicking on all cylinders.”
Clewis and Kovich have been partners in yardage since their days together on the Bandits in the Upper Loudoun Youth Football League.
“It’s really great to be in the backfield with him, the way that we’re so dynamic, it’s just awesome,” said Kovich, before turning his attention to his line. “They [offensive line] did everything. If they didn’t do what they were doing, we couldn’t be able to do what we did. They are the heart of this team.”
The Pride entered the contest victorious through seven ballgames for some very good reasons, and two of those reasons quickly came to the fore.
Granted a short field by D.J. Hutcherson‘s recovery of a muffed punt, strong-armed junior QB Alex Carlin lofted it up to senior speedster Cole Miller, running a fade route to the near right corner of the end zone. The ball met Miller as he met the goal line for a pretty passing play to tie things up.
From then on, despite the full-throated encouragement from the stadium-filling red-clad throng of Pride supporters, it was all Woodgrove Wolverines. Before the Homecoming halftime show arrived, Clewis had dashed for two more scores and all but 14 of his 161 yards. Kovich got loose for 117 yards and a pair of rush TDs.
The junior signal-caller added what became Woodgrove’s finishing touch with a 5-yard trip to the zone in the third quarter, giving the Wolverines a six-touchdown advantage with the running-clock rule in effect.
For good measure, Kovich tossed in a 33-yard touchdown pass to junior wideout Mason Gryniuk in which the receiver did most of the work. Gryniuk snagged it near the right sideline, made one move and was sprung the remaining 20 yards. His dash put a stamp on a 73-yard drive to put the Wolverines up 14-7.
But mostly, it was Kovich and Clewis – which sounds like an old-time vaudeville act – who stole the show. Frequently, they lined up alongside each other in the backfield, trading direct snaps. When they chose a lane, they were usually able to surpass the Pride’s first line of defense and scamper for large yardage.
The pair propelled scoring drives of 85 and 77 yards in the second quarter as the Wolverines mounted a 42-7 lead at the half.
Woodgrove had 10 runs of more than 10 yards, including a 42-yard bolt by sophomore back Johann Wunder, spelling Clewis. Heritage did not register a tackle for loss until well into the second half.
The home crowd received a dose of last-minute excitement when senior running back Brandon Crockett busted loose for a 75-yard dash that he nearly took to the house.
Fumbles were a common sight on the chilly October night. The sides combined for seven fumbles, three on dropped punts. Each side gave it away thrice – for Heritage, the first giveaways of the season.
“It’s just one of those nights,” said Heritage head coach Reed Prosser philosophically. “I’ve been around ball a long time, and sometimes you don’t play as well as you want to…. Once we lost momentum, it was really hard to get it back.”
Prosser is in his third year, now turning around a program that mustered just three wins in each of his first two.
“We’re going to be a playoff team and we’re going to play people the caliber of them,” the Heritage head man said. “This is a great learning environment for us, but it was just one of those games.”
As for Skinner’s Woodgrove bunch, he believes this might be a peak season.
“It takes three, four years, and this is Year 4,” said the fourth-year coach, armed with a wealth of head coaching experience from Marshall and Centreville, winning a state title with the latter in 2000. “We think this could be a big year for us. But we’ll see. Lot of football left to be played.”
The Court On The Field
Despite the autumnal chill in the air and the unfortunate proceedings on the field, the huge assemblage of Heritage faithful was rewarded with the coronation of the Pride’s Homecoming Court.
Your 2015 Heritage High School Homecoming King is Aiden Carroll, while Cierra Marco was crowned as Homecoming Queen. The Pride’s football team was represented by junior lineman Damian Moo.
The Pride’s full Homecoming Court as honored on Friday night:
Senior princesses Ella Zevallos, Jordan Temme, Kia Tacal, Lauren Gold and Heidi Barrientos; senior princes Luis Rosas, Zach Nylund, Parker Hough, Nathan King and Noah Bigler; junior princesses Margaret Huettner and Skyla Richardson; junior princes Scott Stewart and Damian Moo; sophomore princesses Emersen Smith and Isabelle Jensen; sophomore princes Colin Shea and Nick Trusty; freshman princesses Sarah Philip and Carolin Fabian; freshman princes Evan Pendergast and Brendan Friedich.
Woodgrove stats –
Rushing: Charlie Clewis 12-161, 3 TDs; Mike Kovich 14-126, 3 TDs; Johann Wunder 10-83; Graham Walker 4-19; Mike Sheehan 2-6; Mikey Bryant 2-4; Kevin Burke 2-2; Chima Kpaduwa 1-0
Passing: Mike Kovich 6 of 8 for 83, 1 TD
Receiving: Mason Gryniuk 2-43, 1 TD; Mikey Bryant 3-28; Russell Blackwell 1-12
Heritage stats –
Rushing: Brandon Crockett 4-80; Mitch Westbrook 6-10; Tanner Kern 1-3; Luke Schaub 2-2; Alex Carlin 5-(-13)
Passing: Alex Carlin 12 of 23 for 95, 1 TD
Receiving: Andrew Sylvain 6-55; Cole Miller 2-26, 1 TD; John Wooden 2-13; Tyrique Moss 1-3; Mitch Westbrook 1-(2)
Other scores –
John Champe 21, Dominion 14 (OT)
Stone Bridge 27, Broad Run 13
Potomac Falls 17, Briar Woods 0
Tuscarora 34, Edison 6
Loudoun Valley 44, Freedom 7
Central 44, Riverside 20
Loudoun County 34, Rock Ridge 21 (Sat.)
Off weeks for: Park View
VivaLoudoun: We Live For Loudoun™
Written by Jason S Rufner
for Viva Loudoun Media Communications