Senior Noah Reimers picked up right where he left off last season in Tuscarora High School's season-opener against Kettle Run. With a stout offensive line paving the way, Reimers churned out 110 rushing yards and scored four touchdowns in the Huskies' 40-7 home victory Aug. 29 in Leesburg.
While Reimers' strong performance came as no surprise, the stellar play of junior quarterback Daniel Smith may have surprised some – at least those not inside the Hukies' program.
Despite exiting the game early in the third quarter with the Huskies comfortably ahead, Smith rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries and completed six of seven passing attempts for 95 yards and another score.
"He's special, I've been telling people that," Tuscarora coach Mike Burnett said. "We didn't ask him to do a whole lot last year. But we are going to ask him to do a whole lot this year. I think you saw that tonight."
Smith guided Tuscarora's first-team offense to touchdowns on six of its seven series in the game.
"We looked pretty sharp," Smith said. "We worked in a little bit of no huddle and I thought we did a great job considering it's the first time we've done that in a game situation."
Smith, who saw limited action behind center as a sophomore, noted that he's "a lot more comfortable than last year. I know what I'm doing more and I have more freedom."
Burnett expects the emergence of Smith to go with a quality group of receivers – led by senior Jordan Fisher – to continue paying dividends as the season progresses.
"It allows us to get the teams' focus off of Noah," he said. "Everybody knows he's a great running back and he's going to get his yards. When we can be more multidimensional we are going to be harder to defend. When you get deep in the play-offs and there are so many good teams, you have to be able to throw the football."
Defensively, the Huskies held the Cougars off the scoreboard until the final play of the third quarter. Tuscarora's defense forced two turnovers and produced a three-and-out on four Kettle Run possessions.
Tuscarora held a moment of silence prior to kickoff in honor of endeared assistant coach Adam Fortune, who died July 7 of cardiomyopathy due to an enlarged heart.
Many in the crowd proudly sported "Fortune Strong" t-shirts and the word Fortune is featured on the front of the Huskies' helmets.
"It's been a tough summer. There have been a lot of hard days where you lose that energy and lose that spirit," Burnett said. "I think tonight they played with such emotion. You could see it all over the field."
"I'm just really proud of them," Burnett continued about his players. "I thought they represented themselves the way he would have liked."
Tuscarora will dedicate the 2014 season to Coach Fortune and will rename its field as "Fortune Field."
Tuscarora 40, Kettle Run 7
T: Reimers 23 run (run failed), 8:44
T: Smith 2 run (kick blocked), 1:04
T: Smith 89 run (Smith pass to Fisher), 9:33
T: Reimers 7 pass from Smith (Underhill kick), 3:44
T: Reimers 2 run (kick blocked), 2:00
T: Reimers 41 run (Underhill kick), 9:11
KR: Lewis 1 run (Morgan kick), 0:00
THS offensive leaders
-Passing: Daniel Smith (6 of 7 for 95 yards, TD, Int.)
-Rushing: Smith (5-146-2), Noah Reimers (16-110-3)
-Receiving: Duron Norris (3-68), Reimers (2-16-1), Jeremy Sampson (1-12), Caleb Lokey (1-11)
-Photos by Randy Litzinger