Final score –
Broad Run Spartans (4-2) 7 7 14 0 28
Tuscarora Huskies (7-0) 7 0 12 16 35
1 / 3:59 – Broad Run TD (Brady Reitzel 85-yd pass to Marcel Mingo; Sam Sergi kick)
1 / 1:35 – Tuscarora TD (Noah Reimers 2-yd run; Finley Underhill kick)
2 / 1:36 – Broad Run TD (Brady Reitzel 25-yd pass to Chuck Davis; Sam Sergi kick)
3 / 8:20 – Broad Run TD (Brady Reitzel 1-yd run; Sam Sergi kick)
3 / 7:44 – Tuscarora TD (Ishmael Williams 22-yd run; 2-pt pass failed)
3 / 0:22 – Tuscarora TD (Noah Reimers 2-yd run; 2-pt pass failed)
3 / 0:05 – Broad Run TD (Brady Reitzel 51-yd run; Sam Sergi kick)
4 / 8:44 – Tuscarora TD (Daniel Smith 32-yd pass to Nicolas Speroni; Noah Reimers 2-pt run)
4 / 3:35 – Tuscarora TD (Noah Reimers 2-yd run; Noah Reimers 2-pt run)
Tuscarora High School, Leesburg, Va. (October 10, 2014) — It was one of the best football games Michael Burnett has ever been a part of.
The high-skill, low-turnover, big-play affair between Tuscarora and Broad Run last Friday night came as advertised, with both sides facing easily one of the toughest challenges they’ll come up against this gridiron season.
A hard-hitting defense-minded first half gave way to a track meet of a second half. The visitors from Broad Run, on the strength of the right arm and both legs of senior quarterback Brady Reitzel, took a two-score lead into the final quarter, setting the stage for Tuscarora senior running back Noah Reimers to propel his team to an improbable comeback victory, putting up a record-setting rushing performance in doing so.
In a clinching series of key plays in a game filled with key plays, the homestanding Huskies (7-0) came through with a fourth-quarter defensive stop of the Spartans (4-2) on 4th and 2 from the 6 and the Spartans’ lead at 1. That denial got the partisan Tuscarora crowd rocking, and they rocked the stadium even more when Reimers ripped off a late 70-yard run to set up his third TD of the game, followed by his second straight two-point success.
In a showdown in which neither team backed down, it was the Huskies who came up with the last big play and went home with a 35-28 victory, keeping their perfect year alive for at least one more week by surviving what is, by far, their closest contest to date.
“If you’re just a football fan at all, that would have been a great game to just sit in the stands and watch,” Burnett said afterward.
Burnett has been a part of many football games, many of them as a head coach for four different high schools, the last two named Broad Run and Tuscarora. It was with those two Loudoun programs that Burnett has won 76 games over the past seven full seasons — with defensive coordinator and best friend Adam Fortune by his side for every one.
Fortune died, unexpectedly, last July of cardiomyopathy at the age of 37. The entire night Friday was dedicated to his memory, and the football field at Tuscarora High School was officially christened Fortune Field in a moving ceremony before the teams did battle.
More on that ceremony and the dedication of Fortune Field later in this article. First, there’s one heck of a football game to talk about.
“It was just the sort of game Adam would have loved,” Burnett said. “Kids on both sides giving great effort and making big plays.”
It’s only appropriate that a game preceded by the remembrance of a dearly departed defensive coordinator, who’d successfully served both programs, should begin with the two defenses dominating.
Neither offense did much of anything until the tilt’s fourth possession, when Reitzel hit Marcel Mingo in a seam over the top. Mingo shedded a defender’s hand off his jersey and raced to the end zone for an 85-yarder.
The Huskies answered on their next possession, handing the ball to Reimers for a 61-yard gallop to the 2, setting up the next snap for his first of three TDs.
Reimers went on to amass a school- and personal-best 377 rush yards, breaking off runs of 61, 12, 21, 47, 29, 14 and 70 for a 9.4 yard-per-carry average.
The senior could not accept all the credit for his yard-gaining prowess.
“Everybody says, ‘Hey, great game, Noah,’ but they [offensive linemen] don’t get remotely as much love as they should. They’re the hardest working people on the team,” praised Reimers, in reference to the Huskies’ offensive line manned by David Chalmers, Jack Corso, Anson Braselle and Noah Klemm among others.
“They open the holes. I just run through them,” Reimers went on. “They’re a great group of guys. They always push for me, so I always push for them.”
Fueled by Reimers’ hard running for Tuscarora, and spearheaded by the Reitzel rifle on Broad Run’s arsenal, the lids came off the proverbial basket shortly before halftime set in.
With less than 100 seconds remaining in the first half, Reitzel zipped a throw to the left hashmark, where Chuck Davis snagged it around the 12-yard line, made a man miss and took it in.
“I thought we moved the ball well on offense,” Broad Run coach Matt Griffis assessed. “We ran it well against a very good defensive front.”
Missed tackles, blown secondary coverages and a rash of penalties hurt Tuscarora, particularly early. The Huskies were hit with 10 flags on the night, while the Spartans were whistled five times.
If the first half was reminiscent of “clouds of dust,” the second resembled an arena league. Over the course of the third quarter, Broad Run made it to paydirt on two of their three possessions, while Tuscarora came up with touchdowns on both of theirs.
Just 36 seconds after Reitzel began post-halftime scoring with a plunge from a yard out, Reimers’ backup Ishmael Williams turned in an impressive scamper, juking away from multiple Spartan defenders in a 22-yard answering tally.
But a botched snap on the ensuing try was a missing point the Huskies chased until their last TD of the fourth quarter. That final frame opened with the visitors owning a 9-point advantage.
That last 12-minute segment, it turned out, belonged to the home team.
Junior quarterback Daniel Smith showed off his improvisation skills, scrambling away from a blitz before finding Nicolas Speroni all alone at the 5-yard line for a 32-yard TD strike. Reimers ran in the 2-point conversion, and the Broad Run lead was down to 1.
That set the stage for the Spartans’ offense to drive deep into Tuscarora’s red zone, only to be halted and subsequently vanquished by the Huskies’ game-deciding final drive.
Broad Run’s last-ditch effort began on their own 27 with over three minutes on the clock, but three consecutive incomplete passes doomed the visitors’ chances. An evening dedicated to the memory of a man who had given so much to both programs ended with a game neither deserved to lose.
They took their places in the stands, many on the home team’s side sporting blue “Good Fortune” t-shirts or black “Fortune Strong” ones. Newly installed lettering loudly proclaimed “FORTUNE FIELD” from atop the newly installed videoboard, looming from beyond the north end zone.
Printed rosters for each team were superimposed with images of Fortune in action as a coach — the Broad Run roster showing him in Spartans clothing, the Tuscarora one with him in Huskies gear.
The two teams entered the playing surface to the standard fanfare, though the excitement of impending kickoff gave way to silent solemnity as the sound system intoned the strains of a somber song.
“We are lead to those who help us most to grow,” the lyrics sang, both teams listening with helmets off.
The public address announcer crackled, delivering a speech of several minutes honoring the life of Adam Fortune and his meaning for players at both schools and students across Loudoun.
The assemblage was informed that, by decree of the Loudoun County School Board, the grounds of that stadium were to be known henceforth as Fortune Field. A large banner was lifted to unveil “FORTUNE FIELD” painted in large blue block letters in the middle of the football field.
The scoreboard then lit up, the electric blue of “FORTUNE FIELD” emanating outward for the first time. The videoboard came alive with a two-minute piece on Fortune’s career.
Fortune’s wife Jennifer, father Charlie and mother Karen were presented by Tuscarora athletic director Derek Farrey with replicas of the placard now adorning the box office. The family members were serenaded by applause.
The coin was flipped, and the next game for Broad Run and for Tuscarora — and the first for Fortune Field — began.
“Adam was a fantastic man who cared about kids and taught them a lot about life through football,” Griffis said. “That’s why you coach, and Adam was great at it. The kids who come back [to visit alma mater Broad Run] remember Coach Fortune and how much he cared for them. He was just a quality, quality person.”
Burnett, who preceded Griffis at Broad Run and teamed with Fortune to guide the Spartans to two state championships, knew that the pre-game ceremony would be difficult for him emotionally, but found it to be still tougher to deal with.
“I don’t even know if I can put it into words,” he said. “He should be here enjoying this, because he put so much work into this group of kids. He cared so much about them, he’d be so proud of them.”
He paused a moment.
“It’s just nice in life when good people are celebrated.”
Broad Run stats –
Rushing: Brady Reitzel 9-71, 2 TDs; Willie Smallwood 11-55; Jashawn Banks 7-13
Passing: Brady Reitzel 13 of 26 for 233, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Receiving: Marcel Mingo 4-167, 1 TD; Chuck Davis 6-57, 1 TD; Jaleel Robinson 2-5; Tyriek King 1-4
Tuscarora stats –
Rushing: Noah Reimers 40-376, 3 TDs; Ishmael Williams 4-32, 1 TD; Daniel Smith 6-(-11)
Passing: Daniel Smith 8 of 13 for 91, 1 TD
Receiving: Nicolas Speroni 2-41, 1 TD; Jason Chubbuck 2-32; Noah Reimers 2-9; Jordan Fisher 1-5; Duron Norris 1-4
Other scores –
Loudoun Valley 39, John Champe 33
Dominion 28, Loudoun County 21
Potomac Falls 39, Freedom 13
Stone Bridge 42, McLean 19
Woodgrove 72, Park View 0
Briar Woods JV 44, Rock Ridge JV 0
Off-weeks for: Briar Woods, Heritage
Written by Jason S Rufner