Aldie (September 24, 2015) — Loudoun County has four undefeated football teams. Two of them — Tuscarora and Broad Run — are classic VHSL 5A powers. Heritage — sitting at a 4-0 — is the third.
The fourth has only played in two playoff games in the school’s three year history, but also sits at a perfect 3-0, with one of their wins coming over longtime powerhouse Loudoun Valley by 27 points.
That’s right, the John Champe High School Knights are rolling early in the season behind stellar play by senior quarterback Zach Burdick, but the bearded man with the headset is the mastermind behind the whole operation.
Head coach Jason Dawson has been with the team since the school’s opening and is a man on a mission looking to put Knight football on the map in Loudoun County.
LoCoSports social media editor Joe Skinner got an exclusive interview with Dawson to give us the scoop: inside the huddle.
Joe Skinner: Firstly, this is just a fourth year program and you already have a pretty big following in Aldie. How far has this team come in such a short amount of time?
Jason Dawson: It’s great to see how much all of the hard work the kids and coaches have put in over the past four years has paid off with three wins so far this year. The commitment from our players and support of the families and administration are two of the main reasons for our success.
Skinner: The Knights finished 8-4 last year and made it as far as the VHSL 3A East region quarterfinal. How did last year’s playoff experience and season-ending loss help fuel the team this year?
Dawson: The loss didn’t fuel this team. They are just competitors. They wanted to be great and this is just another example of how well they compete. It’s all we do in the offseason so a game is just another example of what these kids do: compete. Don’t get me wrong, they hated to lose but most of that team graduated. These kids just move forward and keep competing.
Skinner: You had a really tough quarterfinal match up against perennial power James Monroe in the region last year. How has that experience helped you as a coach?
Dawson: Last year’s playoffs kind of helps me with pacing the season out but really the only big help is the experience of coaching two more games where I got to learn from mistakes.
Skinner: Beating traditional football powerhouse Loudoun Valley in Week 4 has really put John Champe on the map for Loudoun County football. How do you keep your team motivated and focused when the spotlight is shining so bright on Aldie?
Dawson: We know what we’ve done is great so far as much as it’s helped to prove again how much all of the time and hard work is worth it. Staying focused is the easy part. You put the next team’s film on and say here we go. Let’ go out and compete against these kids this week and see how we stack up.
Skinner: Finally, what are your team’s goals and expectations for the rest of the year?
Dawson: We don’t have a win or loss goal as a team. We have three team goals:
1. Be the best
3. Play for each other.