Louisa County football never strays far from its roots, and when they need the pure, original version of Louisa football they can almost always find it.
“We had to fight for yards, we just hit the hole,” said Louisa’s Jarett Hunter. “There really wasn’t too much bouncing outside, you just hit the hole and got what you got.”
Friday night at home on a muddy track in a 36-17 victory over Western Albemarle the Lions turned to the old school single wing, with spinner plays, an o-back and a heavy dose of Hunter on the ground. Hunter rushed 35 times for 228 yards and four touchdowns, grinding Western down between the tackles.
“That’s Louisa single wing football right there — line it up, two tights and lets play some football,” said Louisa coach Will Patrick. “There’s something about this team that’s special, we’re looking to get better every single game, every single week.”
With Hunter, Alex Washington (61 yards) and Kalup Shelton (162 yards and a touchdown) pounding things out on the ground to the tune of 451 yards total rushing, Louisa’s defensive effort stood up as the Lions shut down a Western squad that shifted Wyatt Hull from wideout to quarterback in the wake of Carter Shifflett getting hurt against Powhatan in the Warriors’ win last week. Shifting Hull to quarterback took a key receiver out of the mix and put even more weight on the ground game and Austin Shifflett. The Louisa defense went to work against that altered lineup with Brandon Smith and Austin Sims flying all over the field. The Louisa defense held the Western offense scoreless in the second half, with a boost from a pair of Isaiah Nichols interceptions.
“I was pleased with our effort, I thought our guys hung tough,” said Western coach Ed Redmond. “Physically I thought we answered, we just couldn’t generate much offense.”
After losing linebacker Aidan Saunders on the defensive side early, Western got some momentum midway through the second quarter when Hull hit Breaker Mendenhall for a 39-yard touchdown pass. The Warriors then recovered a late fumble set up a 26-yard field goal. But Louisa stopped that brief bleeding with a 10-play drive that ended with Hunter scoring from two yards out.
“Jarett Hunter is a special running back, if he had his way, he’d run the ball every play,” Patrick said. “I let him call a couple of plays out there too, one was a touchdown right before halftime. I put it on the kids because at the end of the day I can’t go on the field.”
With a 22-10 lead heading into the break, Louisa had enough of an advantage to start leaning on the clock and for the most part they did. Briefly they tried to take to the air again but Western’s Jack Lesemann picked off the pass and raced in for a 78-yard touchdown on a pick six with 11:11 to play. The Lions didn’t throw again, melting the clock while extending their lead thanks in part to solid field position from Nichols’ first pick.
Nichols’ emergence continued a now well-established trend for the Lions where a new face seems to step up each week. This time, that player wasn’t even in the lineup a week ago.
“Nichols wasn’t even starting last week, he stepped up in practice and took a job,” Patrick said. “We compete every day. With our team being so young, we compete every day. The best man is going to play, he’s going to get an opportunity and Nichols got an opportunity.”
Hunter also continued to prove he’s one of the area’s toughest backs, taking a pounding while carrying the ball 35 times in the win. His run for 30 yards to put the game on ice in the closing seconds showed that he and the Louisa line just kept getting stronger as the game wore on. It helps that the Lions are particularly wary of Western, who two years ago in 2016 handed them their first loss despite the Warriors posting a 2-8 campaign and last year gave the Lions their closest Jefferson District scare in a 22-8 Louisa win in Crozet.
“Every week that game is talked about, Western messed up our perfect record two years ago,” Hunter said. “We make sure every week we’re prepared so we can keep our record going.”
Now the Lions will turn their attention to a key road trip with Powhatan Friday while the Warriors will try and bounce back against Monticello at home.