It was no secret what Tuscarora High School’s offensive game plan would be for its key showdown against Leesburg rival Loudoun County. The Huskies were going to run, run and run some more.
Fully aware of the Huskies’ penchant to run the ball, the host Raiders stacked the box with up to nine defenders throughout the Sept. 22 game played in front of a standing room only crowd.
That still wasn’t enough as three Huskies rushed for 60-plus yards, led by sophomore Noah Reimers’ 148 yards and two touchdowns, to lead Tuscarora to a 21-7 victory over County.
The Huskies improved to 2-0 in the AA Dulles District, 4-0 overall, while the Raiders (1-1, 3-1) suffered their first loss.
“I think the biggest thing for us was emotion,” Tuscarora coach Michael Burnett said. “We can move the ball pretty well offensively. But we knew they were going to play with emotion, they were going to bring eight, nine guys. We just had to match the intensity.”
The Huskies’ offensive line - tackles Darius Anderson and Anders Peterson, guards Jack Corso and Brandon Chirinos, and center Andrew Corso - along with tight end Drew Davidson opened up running lanes for Reimers, Adrien Stinger and Jack Coates despite the heavy traffic near the line of scrimmage.
“We said ‘alright, there is a lot of people in there and you guys are going to have to move some of them’. I thought we were able to move the line of scrimmage a little bit. And in the second half, we were able to spread them out a little bit and got the toss on the edge.”
Burnett added more praise for his group up front, “They are a great group of kids. The best group of linemen that I’ve ever had.” Reimers echoed his coach’s sentiment, “Our line did a fantastic job. When there are holes that big, I can run anywhere.”
Reimers scored the game’s first two touchdowns on a pair of short runs, and Stinger capped the scoring with an 8-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. The Huskies were in position to score twice more, but were denied as the Raiders produced a pair of goal line stands during the last five minutes of the first half.
Defensively, Tuscarora focused on taking away County’s running game and the plan worked. The Raiders’ top back Matt Arneson was held to nine yards on eight carries as quarterback Jake Lokey finished as the team’s leading rusher with 28 yards.
Lokey found some success throwing the ball in the second half and finished with 156 passing yards. Brad Szoka and Sean Bell were Lokey’s top targets, combining for 13 receptions for 140 yards.
Szoka took a lateral from Lokey and scored from seven yards out as time expired in the third quarter. The Raiders were held to seven points after averaging more than 40 points per game in their first three victories.
“Our defense was unbelievable,” Burnett said. “He’s an outstanding quarterback. He picked us apart at times. But we took away the running game and that allowed us to give them the short stuff and not give them the big play. That’s really what made the difference.”
Tuscarora and County will both face undefeated teams in their next games Sept. 29. The Raiders travel to Purcellville to play the Wolverines (5-0), while the Huskies host two-time defending state champion Briar Woods (5-0).
The Huskies were in a similar spot last year, entering the Briar Woods game undefeated following an emotional win against the Raiders. The result was a 38-0 loss. Burnett expects a much better showing this time around.
“We are a different team. This is a totally different group of kids,” he said. “These are the kids that have been here for three years now and they love this school ... This is what it should be all about. Kids having pride in their school, playing hard, having big games each week.”
Noah Reimers continues to impress in his sophomore season for Tuscarora. Reimers, best known for his prowess as a running back, is also a starting defensive back and handles punting duties for the Huskies.
“He’s been a special player since he came in. He’s the only freshman I’ve ever had play for me of all the great players that we’ve had,” said Burnett, who guided Broad Run to consecutive state championships in 2008 and 2009 prior to starting the Tuscarora program in 2010.
After seeing limited action as a freshman, Reimers established himself right off the bat this year. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound back rushed for 274 yards and three touchdowns in a season-opening win against Millbrook.
Overall, Reimers has rushed for 561 yards and nine touchdowns in four games. He’s also returned an interception for a touchdown.
“He just has such toughness and great instincts,” Burnett continued. “You look at him and say what exactly is it that he does great and my answer would be everything. He’s a very complete football player with a huge heart.”
Tuscarora 21, Loudoun County 7
T: Reimers 2 run (Miller kick) 0:18
T: Reimers 3 run (Miller kick) 7:48
LC: Szoka 7 run (Melkin kick) 0:00
T: Stinger 8 run (Miller kick) 10:40
-Rushing: T - Reimers (33 for 148 yards, 2 TD), Stinger (9 for 67 yards, TD), Coates (5 for 63 yards); LC - Lokey (11 for 28 yards)
-Passing: T - Azzarita (3 of 5 for 45 yards); LC - Lokey (18 of 28 for 156 yards)
-Receiving: T - Coates (2 for 28 yards), Reimers (1 for 17 yards); LC - Szoka (7 for 86 yards), Bell (6 for 54 yards), Graham (3 for 15 yards)
-All photos by Greg Nash
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