Leesburg, Va. — On just the second day of school, the Tuscarora High School football team was set to host rival Heritage High School under the Friday Night Lights in Leesburg with kickoff slated for 7pm. But Mother Nature had some other plans as the Tuscarora administration pushed the start time back to 7:30pm because of excessive heat. Then during the delay, Mother Nature once again showed up with a torrential thunderstorm that pushed back the start time further, closer to 8pm.
Despite the delays and despite the environment of a week one crosstown rivalry showdown, the Huskies persevered and held off the Pride, 9-0, to earn their first win of the season on August 25 in Leesburg.
“We’re just happy we were able to make a couple of plays and come out with the win,” Tuscarora head coach Jared Toler said. “Hats off to them; they’re going to be really good, and they have a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to this season.”[adrotate banner=”46″]
Following the near hour long postponement, the Huskies started with a bang as sophomore Isaiah Lucas returned the opening kickoff 47 yards to the Pride 49 yard line. Seven plays later, Tuscarora senior quarterback Tommy Peede bullied his way up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown run as the Huskies took a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
Following uneventful possessions for both teams, Tuscarora senior punter Elijah Chapple pinned the Pride at their own 10 yard line. Two plays and one penalty later, Tuscarora junior defensive back Bryce Huber met Heritage senior quarterback Jackson Kipp in the endzone where he tackled the Pride shotcaller for a safety.
From there, a defensive battle ensued as both teams bent but never again broke.
Heritage had its best scoring chance late in the second quarter when senior running back Luke Wingfield carried the team down to the 3 yard line. However, back-to-back holding penalties then a sack pushed the Pride back to a 4th-and-34 as Tuscarora forced a turnover on downs before heading into halftime.
“We had some guys banged up, cramping in the humidity, it was a weird night,” Toler said. “We have a thing here called B.O.B.—Band of Brothers. Our mantra is to play for each other. We play for something bigger than you. We play for the guys around us. We had our backs against the wall, but when push came to shove, our guys just rallied around each other.”
On their second possession of the third quarter, the Pride once again made some headway, finding their way into the red zone, but this time the Huskies got a finger on the 37-yard field goal attempt as the Tuscarora defense preserved its shutout.
Even failing to score on their two best opportunities, the Pride were still very much in the game, thanks to a tremendous defensive effort. After the opening drive—which started at their own 47—the Heritage defense did not allow the Huskies inside the 40 yard line for the rest of the night.
“They’re big, they’re physical. They did a good job tying up our linemen and letting their linebackers run free,” Toler said. “We saw it on film and worked on it all week, but when you see it live, it’s a little bit different. Coach Huff had a great game plan, and he had his team ready to go.”
The win gets Tuscarora off to a great start in the newly, re-aligned Dulles District—featuring Dominion, Heritage, Loudoun Valley, Rock Ridge, and the Huskies—as the top two teams in the district will receive an automatic ticket to the Region 4C tournament. The Pride will look to learn from their week one loss and try to earn their first win of the season when they host Class 5 Riverside on August 31 in Leesburg.
“Both teams fought hard, both teams have a lot to improve on going into week two,” Toler said. “You just look to come out on top in week one then clean it up; week one to week two is the biggest jump.”
|1Q||9:30||Tuscarora||Tommy Peede 1-yard TD run (Josh Tikalsky PAT)||7-0|
|1Q||0:45||Tuscarora||Bryce Huber safety||9-0|