Monday (Afternoon) Quarterback
Welcome back to the Monday (Afternoon) Quarterback where each week we take a look at the top stories from around Loudoun football. The two remaining undefeated teams stayed perfect on Friday night and a couple other Dulles District squads scored big wins while Heritage won its first Cedar Run contest in a nail-biter.
Here are some of the headlines going into this week...
Once Again, Broad Run Boasts the Top Back in the District
The defending state champion Spartans entered the season with lofty expectations surrounding them, from a third straight Dulles District championship to a second consecutive appearance in the state title game. Much was also expected from senior tailback T.J. Peeler - the 6 foot 1, 210-pound power behind Broad Run's dominant running attack a year ago. With AA Division 4 state player of the year Breon Earl lost to graduation and an inexperienced sophomore taking over at quarterback, Peeler instantly became to main factor in the Spartans' offense.
So far, the Pittsburgh recruit has been just as good - if not better - than expected. In Friday night's 34-9 win at Dominion, Peeler rumbled for 181 yards and a score on 22 carries. In a matchup with another exciting back - Dominion's DeAndre Reaves - the Spartans' bruiser stole the show.
"A lot of people say he is the best running back in the district," Peeler said of Reaves. "But I think otherwise."
In fairness to Reaves, he lacks the powerful offensive line that Broad Run features, and every night out the defense is focused almost entirely on stopping him. That results in lots of stretch plays where it's essentially one on three or one on four as he tries to turn the corner and make people miss on his own. Friday night alone, he took a pounding on nearly every rushing attempt - many in which he just had to dive forward from the line to try to pick up a couple yards before getting sandwiched by Broad Run's linebackers. He's still a tremendous talent, but after a brilliant freshman season in the backfield, he's been forced to find other ways to contribute the last two years.
Nevertheless, Peeler now has 1,223 yards and 12 touchdowns on 135 carries. That's an average of nine yards per carry. And if you're looking for consistency, how about this: Peeler has rushed for at least 100 yards and one score in all seven of Broad Run's games, including two 200-yard efforts and five games with two scores. And don't forget, with the Spartans running away with most of their wins this season, those totals are coming from a mere half or three quarters of action.
Peeler was a monster during the Spartans' run through the regional and state playoffs last season and hasn't shown any wear and tear this fall despite a significant increase in carries. His emergence has been essential as Connor Jessop gets comfortable under center in coach Michael Burnett's offense. We've seen flashes of the full compliment of weapons this offense possesses - see the 52-22 walloping of Park View three weeks ago - but Broad Run's coaches and players will tell you, they haven't played their best yet.
With all due respect to last year's leading rusher in the Dulles District - Michael Baker of Potomac Falls - this makes two consecutive seasons in which the Spartans boast the top running back in the league, and perhaps the state (at the AA level). As long as he stays healthy and the offense continues to spread the ball around to keep him fresh, Peeler can continue to be the offensive catalyst that leads Broad Run on another deep playoff run.
Kicking Frenzy in the Dulles District
You won't find a coach more inclined to go for it on fourth-and-whatever than Park View's Andy Hill. So the fact that he's starting to let kicker Kevin Flamenco line it up for field goal attempts with more regularity is just about the biggest vote of confidence a kicker could receiver. When Hill called for a 49-yard field goal attempt in Friday's 39-0 shutout of Potomac Falls on Friday night, he looked like Lane Kiffin sending Sebastian Janikowski out for a 76-yard attempt (yes, that's an exaggeration). But when the junior kicker nailed it, Hill admitted it was quite a sight.
"One of the more impressive things for us in this game was the 49-yard field goal by Kevin Flamenco," he said in an email. "It was a heck of a shot. If our holder would have moved the tee back about 15 inches, it would have been a 50-yd FG. Very cool."
Flamenco, whose long-range blast was only his second field goal attempt on the season, is 15 of 15 on extra point tries and has eight kickoffs that resulted in touchbacks. And he's not the only place kicker making waves in the Dulles District this season.
Loudoun County senior Calle Brown - a soccer goalie by trade - has 31 points on the season, with four field goals and 19 extra points. His 47-yarder in the waning seconds lifted the Raiders over Sherando in a critical Week 4 win.
Dominion senior Charles Donkor - dubbed "Gus the Mule" by coach Karl Buckwalter - also scored from long-range on Friday, drilling a 47-yarder in the loss to Broad Run. Donkor already had made field goals from 42 and 36 yards to go along with nine extra points.
Heritage Takes Cedar Run District Opener
Steve Williams knew his first season at the helm in Leesburg wouldn't be easy. In fact he made sure of it, scheduling AAA heavyweights Stone Bridge and Colonial Forge, along with reigning AA state champs Broad Run to fill out a schedule that includes almost two full trips through the always difficult Cedar Run District. The Pride stumbled to an 0-3 start, but the early bumps and bruises appear to be paying dividends at just the right time.
With Friday's 19-13 win against Stonewall Jackson in the Pride's Cedar Run opener, Heritage has won two of three, with both victories coming against league opponents. A big factor in their recent success has been the development of sophomore quarterback Austin Nelson.
With two more touchdown passes on Friday, Nelson now has 11 on the season with only four interceptions. He's already thrown for 1,022 yards while completing 50 percent of his passes. His continued success will be critical for a team that lacks a dominant running game.
October 12, 2009; 1:32 PM ET
Categories: Broad Run High School , Cedar Run District , Dominion High School , Dulles District , Football , Heritage High School , High School Sports , Loudoun County High School , Park View High School
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