Loudoun County High School senior Brad Szoka has game-breaking ability on the football field.
So when his 70-yard touchdown catch and run in the second quarter of a Sept. 7 game against Loudoun Valley was negated due a to a chop block penalty, Szoka simply waited for his next chance.
“I knew I would have other opportunities in the game so I didn’t get discouraged,” Szoka said. “I knew we were going to come back and make plays.”
That’s exactly what Szoka and the Raiders did on their way to a 42-7 victory against their longtime rival Vikings in Purcellville.
Leading 15-7 with under two minutes left in the first half, Szoka returned a punt 65 yards for a score. Five plays later, Szoka caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Jake Lokey on a fade pattern.
The explosive plays turned an eight-point lead into a 28-7 advantage at the half.
“Our defense was playing lights out. Our team knew we had to build on the lead in order to put the game away,” Szoka said. “We were talking in the huddle before the punt return and our coach said ‘This is it. We make a big play right here and we are going to be successful at the end of this game.’”
Szoka continued his dynamic play in the second half. He returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter. On the Raiders’ next offensive series, Lokey connected with Szoka on a 30-yard touchdown pass to cap an eight-play drive and push the lead to 42-7 early in the fourth.
“He’s my best friend, we are always together,” Szoka said of Lokey. The two have played together since the sixth grade, starting out in the Central Loudoun Youth Football League. “We just have that chemistry.”
Senior running back Matt Arneson did most of his damage in the first quarter, playing a key role on the Raiders’ first two scoring drives. Arneson broke loose for a 40-yard touchdown run to begin the scoring, then added consecutive runs of 17 and 46 yards on the next series that led to senior Deron Davis’ touchdown plunge.
Valley’s lone scoring drive surfaced midway through the second quarter. Sophomore Andrew Cordani capped a 7-play, 52-yard drive with his 18-yard touchdown run. Cordani rushed five times for 41 yards in the series.
The Raiders (1-0 in the AA Dulles District, 2-0 overall) will host Sherando Sept. 14 before closing out the regular season with seven straight district games. The Vikings (0-1, 1-2) will look to rebound Sept. 14 at Tuscarora.
Despite the impressive start, Szoka said the team’s philosophy remains the same. “We stay humble and keep pushing forward taking one game at a time.”
Loudoun County 42, Loudoun Valley 7
LC: Arneson 40 run (Arneson run) 10:06
LC: Davis 1 run (Melkin kick) 3:21
LV: Cordani 18 run (Peart kick) 4:41
LC: Szoka 65 punt return (kick failed) 1:34
LC: Szoka 26 pass from Lokey (Melkin kick) :02
LC: Szoka 75 interception return (Melkin kick) 6:03
LC: Szoka 30 pass from Lokey (Melkin kick) 11:38
LC: Arneson (17 for 131 yards, TD), Adams (6 for 42 yards); LV: Cordani (13 for 79 yards, TD)
LC: Lokey (8 of 11 for 88 yards, 2 TD); LV: Frazier (4 of 15 for 39 yards, 2 Int.), Warner (3 of 5 for 30 yards)
LC: Szoka (5 for 80 yards, 2 TD); LV: McGuirk (1 for 19 yards), Sullivan (1 for 16 yards), Grayson (1 for 12 yards)
-All photos by William Burke
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