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First Down: Heritage, Loudoun Valley & Stone Bridge

With the start of football season now just days away, we wrap up our whirlwind tour of the Loudoun gridiron landscape with a three-for-one deal featuring Loudoun's three AAA programs.

Feel free to contribute any inside information, share notes about up-and-comers from the junior varsity squad or tell my I'm crazy for thinking a certain player is in the running for one starting job or another. As the coaches let on at media day, there are lots of unknowns heading into camp. So feel free to speculate, ruminate and debate any and all football topics here at the Extra Points blog.

Here's your first glance at Heritage, Loudoun Valley and Stone Bridge...

Heritage Pride
Coach: Steve Williams, first year
Last Year: 6-4 (3-4 Dulles District) - In AAA Cedar Run for 2009

After narrowly missing out on the playoffs in the last few years, the Pride head into 2009 with a new coach, a new district and a plenty of question marks for their first season at the AAA level. Longtime head coach Wes Driskill retired after last season and former offensive coordinator Steve Williams takes over the helm of a team that started off strong last season but wilted after a season-ending injury to star running back Ross Madison in Week 8. With part-time quarterback Brian Rody leaving for Stone Bridge and several of the key cogs in Heritage's offensive and defensive units graduating, it won't be an easy transition for Williams. Throw in a brutal non-district schedule that includes an opener at defending state champions Broad Run followed by a home opener against Stone Bridge and it could be a trial by fire scenario for the coach and his young team. But with leaders like senior RB/LB David McCarthy and budding junior wideout Dan Dykema in the fold, the Pride could do some damage in a relatively wide open Cedar Run District. Williams will also try to channel some of Heritage's past success with sophomore quarterback Austin Nelson - the brother of '07 QB Kyle - taking the reigns under center.

(Keep reading for more on Heritage and previews of Loudoun Valley and Stone Bridge...)

Returning Starters: 5
Overall: 29.7 points per game
Passing: 108-214, 1,241 yds, 10 TDs, 12 INTs
Rushing: 311 carries, 1,668 yds, 20 TDs
Kicking: 7 FGs, 32-36 XPs

Returning Starters: 6
Overall: 22.4 points allowed per game
Passing: 73-165, 1,031 yds, 12 TDs
Rushing: 345 carries, 1,550 yds, 17 TDs

Key Losses
RB Ross Madison, LB/TE Russell East, WR/DB T.J. McPhaul, QB Zach Gordon, WR/LB Danny Offei, PK Josh Thiel, QB Brian Rody (transfer to Stone Bridge), DL/OL Aaron McMichael, DL/OL Thomas Ewing

Junior WR Dan Dykema will be a big factor in the Pride's passing game. (Photo by Tracy A. Woodward, The Washington Post)

Key Returners
RB/LB David McCarthy (Sr) - 41 carries, 136 yds; 9 rec., 61 yds, TD
WR/DB Dan Dykema (Jr) - 19 rec., 247 yds, 3 TDs
MLB/OL Josh Toney (Sr)

9/4 - @ Broad Run
9/11 - vs. Stone Bridge
9/17 - @ Colonial Forge
9/25 - @ Loudoun Valley
10/2 - vs. Osbourn
10/9 - vs. Stonewall Jackson
10/16 - @ Hylton
10/23 - vs. Battlefield
10/30 - vs. Loudoun Valley
11/6 - @ Osbourn

Coaches' Corner
- "Replacing guys like T.J. (McPhaul) and Ross (Madison) is going to be tough, but rather than replace them we want a new set of kids to step up and establish their own identities. Hopefully in the future, people will be talking about how to replace them."

- "People outside of our locker room don't have a lot of expectations for us, and our kids have to understand that. They've got to go out and say, 'We're going to prove to everybody that their opinion of us is wrong and this is what Heritage football is really about.' We may not go out and win every game, but we're going to go out and compete in every game and have a chance at least to do that. If that happens, then it's a successful season." - Coach Williams

Loudoun Valley Vikings
Coach: Danny McGrath, second year
Last Year: 1-9 (1-6 Cedar Run District)

The Vikings struggled mightily in Danny McGrath's first season as head coach, failing to put points on the board in five games and managing just 75 total points on the season. Their youth and inexperience was exploited by a tough district and non-district schedule and the team's lone victory came against a Culpeper team that finished 0-10. That said, Valley showed signs of improvement as the season progressed, hanging around in games against Stonewall Jackson, Osbourn and Liberty. Look for a much more cohesive unit now that McGrath and his players have had a full year together. The team returns a number of key starters on both sides of the ball and should see a big jump in their level of competitiveness this fall. It might be another year or two before the Vikings challenge for a playoff berth, but opponents should know better than to sleep on the boys from Purcellville.

Coach Danny McGrath enters his second season at the helm in Purcellville. (Photo by Tracy A. Woodward, The Washington Post)

Returning Starters: 7
Overall: 7.5 points per game
Passing: 57-146, 579 yds, 4 TDs, 15 INTs
Rushing: 169 carries, 376 yds, TD
Kicking: 0 FGs, 1-X FGs
(Stats for 7 of 10 games)

Returning Starters: 6
Overall: 31 points apg
Passing: 74-119, 1,047 yds, 8 TDs
Rushing: 245 carries, 1,616 yds, 24 TDs
(Stats for 8 of 10 games)

Key Losses
QB/DB Iain Mottice, WR/LB Geoff Holden, WR/DB Connor Smith, RB/DB Onzy Elam, OL/DL John Brillant, Chris Labreque, Ron Pelkey, Samuel Juzbasich

Key Returners
RB Bernard Thompson (Sr) - 31 carries, 127 yds
QB/DB Andrew Taylor (Jr) - 11-27, 88 yds, 3 INTs
LBs Zach Bolan (Sr) and Kevin Wiley (Jr)

8/28 - vs. Dominion
9/4 - @ Woodbridge
9/11 - vs. Forest Park
9/17 - @ Brooke Point
9/25 - vs. Heritage
10/9 - @ Osbourn
10/17 - vs. Stonewall Jackson
10/23 - vs. Herndon
10/30 - @ Heritage
11/6 - vs. Battlefield

Coaches' Corner
- "If you took a picture 12 months ago and took a picture now, I think there would be drastic differences. Our numbers are up, our players are enthusiastic and excited to see how far they can go. This season is kind of the end of our journey. We've been preparing for this journey a long time now and now we're kind of reaching the end. We'll see how far we can take it."

- "We stay away from talking about wins because you can't be 10-0 without going 1-0, and you can't be 2-0 without going 1-0. We want to have a good successful program and success for us would be having a good season. We want to respect our opponents, we want to respect ourselves. We want to be committed to what we're doing and we want to be accountable for what we're doing. If we hold those goals that we have set for ourselves, we'll have success no matter our record." - Coach McGrath

Stone Bridge Bulldogs
Coach: Mickey Thompson, ninth year
Last Year: 13-1 (7-0 Liberty District)

The Bulldogs were an unstoppable force during the regular season, putting together perhaps their most dominant season to-date and cruising into the state playoffs for the second straight season. But once again, they came up against Phoebus - a team looking for revenge after Stone Bridge ended their season en route to the 2007 state title. This time it was the Phantoms who got the best of the Bulldogs and went on to claim the state championship. Stone Bridge lost nearly all of its starters from the 2008 squad and has to replace players up and down the lines and at nearly every skill position after the graduation of the school's best senior class ever. They still have the athletes and offensive system to compete for a fifth consecutive Liberty District crown, but their results tough non-district matchups with Westfield and West Springfield in the first three weeks of the season could be a telling indicator of how far the Bulldogs can go in 2009.

Returning Starters: 0
Overall: 46.3 points per game
Passing: 140-241, 2,383 yds, 29 TDs, 15 INTs
Rushing: 446 carries, 2,984 yds, 56 TDs
Kicking: 0 FGs, 84-86 XPs

Returning Starters: 2
Overall: 9.9 points allowed per game
Passing: 127-283, 1,331 yds, 10 TDs
Rushing: 303 carries, 875 yds, 8 TDs

Key Losses
LB Mike Olson, QB/S Patrick Thompson, DE/TE Zach Thompson, DL Brian Slay, DL/TE David Wang, RB/DB Daniel Allen, WR/DB Michael Prince, WR/DB Johnny Bladel, OL/DL Dexter Strong, OL/DL Trevor Springman, TE/DB Nick Sheehan, LB/WR Nate Ingersoll, OL/DL Jimmy Bradford, PK Abdul Shaban, WR/LB Andrew Ansell, OL Matt Custer

Key Returners/Newcomers
RB/DB Marcus Harris (Jr) - 104 carries, 696 yds, 9 TDs; 2 rec., 50 yds, TD
QB/DB Kyle Gouveia (Jr) - 4-6, 58 yds, TD
DB/RB Spenser Rositano (Jr) -
QB Brian Rody (Jr) - 47-98, 442, 4 TDs, 5 INTs; 19 carries, 53 yds, 2 TDs (w/ Heritage)

Junior RB Marcus Harris will be a leader on offense and will receive the majority of the carries. (Photo by Joel Richardson, The Washington Post)

9/4 - vs. Westfield
9/11 - @ Heritage
9/17 - @ West Springfield
9/25 - vs. Jefferson
10/2 - vs. Marshall
10/9 - @ Fairfax
10/16 - vs. Madison
10/23 - @ Langley
10/30 - @ McLean
11/6 - vs. South Lakes

Coaches' Corner
- "This is going to be a real test this year, losing so many starters and 12 of those kids went on to play college football. So we definitely have a lot of work cut out for us."

- "Early on we've got to find out what kind of team we're going to be. The biggest thing for us in the first three weeks as we get into game one is trying to find an identity of who we are offensively and defensively and who are going to be our leaders." - Offensive coordinator Matt Griffis

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By Matt Brooks  |  August 25, 2009; 11:32 AM ET
Categories:  Cedar Run District , Football , Heritage High School , High School Sports , Liberty District , Loudoun Valley High School , Stone Bridge High School  | Tags: Cedar Run District, Football, Heritage High School, Liberty District, Loudoun Valley High School, Stone Bridge High School  
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