Playoff weather has arrived. Next week, the second season begins.
“Now it’s win or go home,” said Louisa coach Will Patrick after his squad wrapped up a third-straight undefeated regular season and the fifth in program history— all since 2006.
With the temperature at kickoff below 40 and the propane heaters setup on the sidelines, Louisa County completed its tour of dominance through the Jefferson District with a 42-0 smothering of Albemarle.
“Our defense came out and answered the bell,” Patrick said, recalling his players’ subdued reaction last week after giving up 24 points to Western in the Jungle. “They came out hitting, playing physical football, one of our key staples at Louisa. Win or lose, we’re going to let you know there’s a football game going on. They came out flying around, doing their jobs, making plays, checking into the right coverage.”
Senior Jarett Hunter started at quarterback and completed all three of his first quarter pass attempts for 135 yards and two touchdowns to two different Lion receivers.
“I wanted to come out here and let ’em throw the ball around in cold conditions,” said Patrick. “Everybody talking about how cold it was tonight— I remember when these kids started August 1st at practice and they were like, ‘it’s hot!’”
On the other side, Albemarle saw starting signal caller Jake King go down before the end of the first quarter. The Patriots turned to Aquon Sims, but first downs were few and far between. When Louisa went up 42-0 with 2:53 remaining in the first half, Albemarle had just 19 total yards on its first seven possessions.
“We knew we had to execute to beat them, and we made some mistakes early that put us in some bad situations,” said Albemarle coach Brandon Isaiah. “At the end of the day, you can’t make mistakes and turn the ball over, and unfortunately we did it against a great football team early, and they were able to get out in front and coast.”
The trouble started on the opening series when Louisa linebacker Stephen Dean intercepted King’s third down pass to setup the Lions at the Patriot 33. Three plays later, Alex Washington took an option pitch around the right edge and raced 22 yards for six.
Albemarle’s next two possessions were three-and-outs, while Louisa answered with first-play long touchdown passes. First, Jarrett tossed it out to Noah Robinson in the right flat, who slipped by the pursuit and took it 85 yards. Next, Jarrett connected with Buck Hunter deep down the left side, who found himself wide open after a cornerback slipped and cruised in for a 47-yard touchdown.
On Louisa’s next series, though, Hunter was banged up on a sack. WIth Patrick keeping the senior on the sideline the rest of the night as a precaution, sophomore JV quarterback Gavin Lindler effectively steered the offense for nearly three full quarters.
“I was nervous at first, didn’t want to make any mistakes, but I felt confident in my throws,” said Lindler, who completed 6-of-11 passes for 70 yards. “I was glad my o-line decided to block for me. They did a great job tonight; they were the train that kept going.”
Still in the first quarter, Louisa senior Austin Sims made interception number two on a fourth-down pass. King took a big hit as he released the throw and did not return a few seconds later when the Patriot defense recovered a fumble.
Louisa got back to work with Lindler and Kalup Shelton leading a 10-play, 86-yard drive early in the second quarter. Shelton capped it with a 29-yard run, which would be his final carry of the evening. He led all rushers with 125 yards on 10 carries.
Later in the second, Lindler connected with Buck Hunter for a 37-yard gain on third-and-2. Two plays later, Lindler cashed in with a one-yard keeper. The momentum snowballed as Louisa fell on a fumble on the ensuing kickoff return. Junior running back Nasir Jackson rounded out the scoring with a 14-yard scamper. He finished with seven rushes for 67 yards.
By the end of the night, fourteen different players had carried the ball, four of whom scored. Louisa outgained AHS by more than 400 yards.
“We’ve got guys who can take it the house on any play, so it’s real exciting,” said Patrick. “It’s not every year you have a slot receiver, tight end, wide out, or a couple running backs and a quarterback who can literally take it. We can play well up front, we’ve got guys on the back end who can move the chains.”
With a running clock after halftime, Albemarle’s front seven was key in preventing Louisa from inflicting any further scoreboard damage, coming up with three fumble recoveries. The offense had one visit to the redzone, but came up short on downs midway through the third quarter. Sophomore Ebenezer McCarthy led the Patriots with 61 yards on 14 rushes, exceeding the team’s net total of 49 yards for the game.
Albemarle (3-7) will hit the road for a Region 5D quarterfinal. Louisa (10-0) has secured the No. 1 seed in Region 4B and will host No. 8 seed King George (6-4) in the Jungle.