Final score –
Massaponax (13-1) 0 14 0 7 21
Tuscarora (14-0) 13 14 14 0 41
1 / 8:32 – Tuscarora TD (Ishmael Williams 86-yd fumble return; Finley Underhill kick blocked)
1 / 3:07 – Tuscarora TD (Noah Reimers 32-yd run; Finley Underhill kick)
2 / 11:50 – Tuscarora TD (Noah Reimers 43-yd run; Finley Underhill kick)
2 / 8:27 – Massaponax TD (Kurt Perges 25-yd pass to Daniel Flowe; Joey Hildebrand kick)
2 / 3:11 – Tuscarora TD (Daniel Smith 17-yd pass to Riley Hartman; Finley Underhill kick)
2 / 0:24 – Massaponax TD (Bo Fields 5-yd run; Joey Hildebrand kick)
3 / 6:42 – Tuscarora TD (Noah Reimers 22-yd run; Finley Underhill kick)
3 / 3:33 – Tuscarora TD (Noah Reimers 48-yd run; Finley Underhill kick)
4 / 0:19 – Massaponax TD (Trey Carson 19-yd run; Joey Hildebrand kick)
Tuscarora High School, Leesburg, Va. (December 5, 2014) — In a game of cats and dogs, the dogs won.
It wasn’t really all that close. With snarling defense and a gashing running game, the undefeated Tuscarora Huskies romped over the previously unbeaten Massaponax Panthers from Fredericksburg, jumping out to a 20-point lead before halftime and keeping it for the duration.
The result grants Tuscarora a berth — for the first time in the school’s brief history — in the Group 5A state championship game to take place next Saturday, December 13, on the campus of the University of Virginia.
It’s a date the Huskies have been thinking of all year long.
“Last year, we put up a poster in the weight room that had ‘December 13′ written on it,” senior lineman Noah Klemm said. “Ever since last season ended, our main focus has been getting to the state championship. We want to show people that we are tough.”
In the December 5 contest, alternately called the 5A North region championship and a 5A state semifinal, the Huskies drew first blood. Massaponax opened festivities with a long drive into Tuscarora’s red zone, chewing up yards to the 14-yard line.
That’s where lineman Will Larson poked the ball free from the Panther carrier’s hands. The prolate spheroid wobbled on the ground by itself for a split second, then was whisked away in the hands of Tuscarora linebacker Ishmael Williams. The senior took off, dashing madly without peeking behind him and not slowing down until the end zone, 86 yards later.
“I thought they might catch up to me, because we knew they were fast,” said Williams, who finished among the game’s leading tacklers. “So I just started running as fast as I could. That’s all I was thinking in my mind.”
The momentum the Huskies seized would stay with them for most of the cold, rain-soaked evening — rooted on by the energetic crowd of blue-clad supporters in the Fortune Field grandstands.
On the Panthers’ subsequent possession, Larson and David Chalmers teamed up to knock down another Massaponax ballcarrier for a big third-down-and-short hold, forcing a punt. The Huskies defense coerced a similar outcome on the next Massaponax possession after that.
Meanwhile, star running back Noah Reimers and his stout offensive line got down to business. All of the Husky offense’s first nine snaps were put into Reimers’ hands, and he produced 92 yards and a touchdown with them, breaking numerous tackle attempts along the way.
Reimers wound up with four TDs, upping his year’s total to an astronomical 47. The Harvard-bound senior is a little more than 100 yards shy of 3,000.
“I get a lot of individual awards and it means a lot, but what means more is doing what we’re doing with this team…. That’s so much more powerful,” said Reimers, who was selected as Virginia’s Gatorade Player Of The Year the previous day. “When you have an offensive line like ours blocking in front of me, beautiful things can happen.”
The relationship between the Huskies’ star back and their stud linemen has evolved into a mutually beneficial one.
“Reimers is a great player, and that motivates us to be better as linemen,” said the 300-pound Klemm. “We just have to dig and push and do what we have to do.”
Tuscarora’s offensive production was called upon when the Panthers — who knocked Stone Bridge out of the playoffs the previous Friday — edged back within 13 points just before halftime, when big Bo Fields stormed across the goalline.
But the real statement of the game was made on the Huskies’ first drive of the second half.
Tuscarora began on their own 26 and rode Reimers to the 50. Consecutive infractions by the offensive line pushed the Huskies back into a 2nd-and-31 hole, but a long run by junior quarterback Daniel Smith erased that dilemma.
On the drive’s ninth snap, Smith stuffed it yet again into Reimers’ belly. The prolific running back motored through a hole, cut past a linebacker and dragged a defensive back 10 yards to the end zone.
Halfway through the third quarter, Tuscarora had a three-touchdown lead that would get no smaller.
“At halftime we said we needed a score and a stop. We felt like if we did that, things would go well for us,” Tuscarora head coach Michael Burnett said. “So that’s what we did, was get a score and a stop. That’s one of the great things about these kids: They stay focused for 48 minutes.”
As a key defensive cog, Williams was under the tutelage of Adam Fortune, Tuscarora’s longtime defensive coordinator who passed away suddenly in July. The team’s field was dedicated to Fortune in October — as was the Huskies’ 2014 season, which now will go the full length.
“It’s been so unreal,” said Williams of the season. “I’m just happy to be a part of this team, and do this for Coach Fortune.”
With the win over Massaponax, the Huskies keep alive a nifty streak for Loudoun County Public Schools. At least one high school in Loudoun has played in a state football championship game every year since 2007.
Often, the local team wins. We’ll find out on Saturday in Charlottesville — when the Huskies tackle L.C. Bird for the Virginia High School League’s Group 5A crown — if Tuscarora can keep the good times rolling.
“One more game to make all our dreams come true,” Reimers said. “It’s beautiful.”
VivaLoudoun will be there Saturday to bring you the tweets, pics, stats, quotes and story of the game from Scott Stadium as the Huskies hunt a state title to bring back to Leesburg.
Tuscarora stats –
Rushing: Noah Reimers 28-307, 4 TDs; Daniel Smith 3-55; Ishmael Williams 8-45; Mateo Taylor 5-11
Passing: Daniel Smith 5 of 8 for 74, 1 TD
Receiving: Bryce Sorrell 2-36; Riley Hartman 1-17, 1 TD; Noah Reimers 1-17; Jordan Fisher 1-4
Massaponax stats –
Rushing: Bo Fields 13-74, 1 TD; CJ Lewis 11-46; Kurt Perges 9-20; Trey Carson 2-38, 1 TD; Tristen Medina 2-7
Passing: Kurt Perges 5 of 10 for 113, 1 TD, 1 INT
Receiving: Gus Little 1-34; Bo Fields 1-30; Daniel Flowe 1-25, 1 TD; CJ Lewis 1-20; Austin Pope 1-4
Group 5A Championship –
L.C. Bird (12-2) vs. Tuscarora (14-0)
Saturday, 12 p.m.
Scott Stadium, University of Virginia
Written by Jason S Rufner