Leesburg, Va. (November 26, 2014) – The Heritage Athletic program finished up another fall sports season this past weekend. The Pride football finished the season 3-7 and with a big 35-32 win over cross town rival Loudoun County. The Pride volleyball finished the season 8-13 and a 3-0 loss to James Wood in the Conference 21 Quarterfinal. The Pride golf team finished the regular season as the Dulles District Champions with a 7-0 record. The Pride boys and girls cross country teams finished another successful season with the girls placing third at the VHSL 4A States meet on November 15.
The Pride Football team finished up a tough season, finishing 3-7 for the second straight year, although the record does not show, they improved a lot throughout the year.
“The team continued to improve from last season and continued to improve throughout the year,” said coach Reed Prosser. “We played one of the most difficult schedules in 4A. We played nine playoff teams in 4A & 5A and defeated two of them. I was proud of how our athletes continued to work hard and believe in each other regardless of our circumstances. True character isn’t built during difficult times; it is revealed. The Heritage Football team demonstrated tremendous resolve and character throughout the season… ultimately culminating in our season ending victory against Loudoun County.”
They had five players make the All-Conference 21 Team: 1st Team: Garrett Smith Punter and 2nd Team: Justin Smith OL, Cole Miller WR, Christian Pelenda Kick Returner, and Daniel Adigun LB and RB.
“Being named 1st team All-Conference 21 is a huge honor, [especially] getting it 2 years in a row” said Pride’s punter Garrett Smith. “A big part of me being able to get this award was Coach Weaver.”
“Garrett is a 2 time 1st team All-Conference selection and was 2nd team All-Region last year,” said Coach Prosser. “He did a great job of not only punting the football, but he called all of the audibles for our fake punts the entire year. He threw for almost 100 yards on fakes alone along with a punting average of 34.5 [yards].”
As they look ahead to next season, they will get their quarterback, Alex Carlin, back after he broke his collarbone in the loss to Woodgrove, they will also retain their whole starting offensive line.
“We are excited about next year and eager to get into the weight room to close the size and strength gap that was evident at times this year,” Coach Prosser said. “We return a tremendous amount of starters and players on both sides of the football and our JV and 9th grade teams are extremely talented. The experience a lot of our players gained this year will help them know they belong and can be play-makers on Friday nights. From Alex Carlin, Mitch Westbrook, Cole Miller on offense to Tyler Daily, Justin Smith, Darick Edmond on defense… all learned this year [that] they can be impact players for us and become dominant. We are also excited about the sub-varsity teams. We have players that will contribute on the Varsity level next year and more than they realize. We need to continue to grow, get stronger and have an exceptional work ethic. All of this will lead to a bright future in Leesburg!”
The Pride Volleyball team did not have its best season in the win column (finishing under the .500 mark), but with much of the team still young they feel that can compete at a higher level next season, with the experience gained this past season. One bright spot was senior OH/RS Madeline Emerald, who was named to the All-Conference 21 Second Team.
“I was totally surprised,” Emerald said. “I am very happy and proud that all my hard work paid off. It feels great to be recognized for something you love to do.”
Coach Smith was very happy with Emerald’s effort all season.
“Madeline worked very hard this season and I could not be happier for her,” said Coach Smith. “I think that she proved herself as an effective and dynamic leader on and off the court.”
The Pride Golf team performed very well as a young team this past season and look to build on that so they can contend even more. They had two golfers qualify for the 4A North match, but only Eli Newman played and finished with an 84. Unfortunately, Nick Rentsch was unable to play due to an illness.
“Was really impressed how much the younger players improved in the offseason,” said Coach Matthew Swartz. “The entire team put in a lot of effort in the off season. The off season improvement was the reason for our regular season success. I was really proud of their work ethic and desire to win. This is a very young team with no seniors and we have a bright future ahead.”
The Pride Boys and Girls Cross Country teams both had great seasons culminating in a 4A State Meet qualification for 8 runners. Including seven girls: Weini Kelati (2nd), Georgie Mackenzie (14th), Sarah Smith (35th), Neal Fleming (38th), Malia Sample (42nd), Yaiza Kinney (55th), and Megan Collins (64th) and one guy, Joey Lightbody (34th).
“This year’s team was vastly improved from last year,” said Coach Douglass Gilbert. “Their hard work over the summer definitely paid off. We look forward to the youth of the team building on this year’s successes. The girls’ team went into the state meet ranked 5th, so I was very happy that we moved up in the rankings. Our ultimate goal was top 2 and with that we fell a bit short. [With] that being said the girls ran their best race of the season at the right time. Joey [Lightbody] also had a great race on the boys’ side. Tying his personal best, he finished 34th.”
Heritage’s top runner, Weini Kelati, had a very outstanding season winning almost all of her races and was primed for a rematch against Libby Davidson, EC Glass, after their clash at the 4A North region meet. Kelati ended up placing 2nd in her last two races. . Georgie Mackenzie on the other hand, got a great start out of the gate, shocking the state at the Great Meadows Invite finishing first with a time of 18:30, placing fourth at Judges Invite with a time of 19:03 and fifth at the DCXC with a time of 19:01, but at the Loudoun County Championships on October 1st she suffered a quad strain due to knee problems. She missed a month and got healthy enough to run in the state meet where place 14th.
“I was very pleased with both of their performances,” Coach Gilbert said. “Weini’s [performance] was the #5 time EVER at the state meet. For Georgie to finish top fifteen after missing an entire month weeks before states was amazing in itself.”
As they look forward to next season, they will return their entire top 7 next year and their goal next season is to win the state meet.