For the second consecutive year, Louisa County opened its season with a short road trip across Lake Anna to old Battlefield District foe Courtland. But for a last-minute touchdown as the reserves saw significant time in the fourth quarter, the Lions might have topped last year’s 35-0 result. Instead, Louisa headed home with a 39-6 triumph, as the defense chipped in with a safety and new sophomore kicker Miguel Castells drilled a 47-yard field goal.
“Last year’s over, and we’re on to 2019,” said Louisa’s second-year coach Will Patrick, alluding to the Lions’ abrupt exit from the 2018 regional playoffs when a last-second long touchdown pass allowed Eastern View to escape the Jungle with an improbable victory. “We’re on a new voyage; we’re a big band of crazy pirates, and we’re chasing after that treasure.”
In another parallel to 2018, the opener marked the debut of a new Louisa starting quarterback, at least when senior Jarett Hunter wasn’t back behind center in the single wing. Freshman Landon Wilson had a solid outing, completing 8-of-14 pass attempts for 81 yards. He accounted for one of the ground attack’s five touchdowns via a 2-yard keeper that wrapped Louisa’s scoring in the fourth quarter.
“I believe I only got touched twice tonight, so my O-line had a really good game,” Wilson said.
Even though there are some new starters on the line, Louisa’s ground game appeared to be in midseason form. The Lions racked up 241 rushing yards in the first half and had 356 by the end of the night, far outpacing Courtland’s 136.
“This team’s interesting because we’ve got some new guys playing up front, older guys but first-time varsity starters,” said Patrick. “It’s cool when you challenge a young man and see how they react; are they going to buck up and hammer down, or are they going to quiver and back out? They really stood up tonight and balled their butts off.”
The stout defense helped Louisa dominate field position for most of the opening half, as the Lions’ first four possessions all started in Cougar territory. Patrick, ever the perfectionist, knows his team will see some missed opportunities in film study.
“I think we don’t fumble on the 1, we score again; we don’t hold on the 5, we score again,” said Patrick. “You chase perfection; you might never catch it, but we’re going to keep chasing it.”
Courtland will be left to wonder how things might have gone were it not for two first-half fumbles and ill-timed penalties. After the Cougar defense halted Louisa’s opening drive by forcing a fumble inside the 5, the offense turned it right back over three plays later without flipping the field. Jarett Hunter then covered 25 yards in two plays to tally the season’s first points.
Early in the second quarter after the 47-yarder made it 10-0, the Cougars were flagged on the kickoff return and backed up to their own 12. Three plays later, senior linebacker Aaron Aponte sacked Courtland quarterback Raul Gil for a safety. After the free kick, Louisa extended its lead to 18-0 as senior Adrian Williams capped a 44-yard drive by taking his only carry of the game 10 yards for a touchdown.
Later in the quarter, GIl connected with Addie Burrow on a post route for a 36-yard gain down to the Lions’ 2; however, two plays later, the ball was loose and Louisa recovered.
“I’m not going to say we’d have won the ballgame, but all the air went out of our sails,” said Courtland coach JC Hall of the turnover inside the 5 yardline. “The key points for tonight were we had to win the game up front and we couldn’t fumble the ball and make mistakes in critical situations, and that’s exactly what we did. We just didn’t execute, and they whupped us.”
Louisa took over at its own 2 with 3:24 left in the half, but Hunter and his fellow backs weren’t content to coast into the break. On the second snap, Hunter ripped off a 67-yard run down to the Cougar 28.
“It was basically a messed up play — a hole collapsed and I had a receiver who got out in front andblocked,” Hunter said. “I ran out of stamina toward the end so I couldn’t get to the endzone, but it was great blocking downfield.”
Fellow senior Gabe Cuozzo followed by picking up 10 yards, and then junior Robbie Morgan covered the last 14 yards in two carries to make it 25-0.
“I think we’ve got three of the best running backs in Virginia,” said Hunter, who led the way with a game-high 222 yards on 20 carries. “The other juniors, they run real hard. They give the same amount of effort, so when I come out, they’re coming in and can get the same production.”
Morgan pretty much sealed the outcome as he capped Louisa’s 70-yard drive to open the third quarter with an 11-yard touchdown. Wilson also completed a pair of passes on the drive covering 45 yards.
“I’m the unknown, so I just had to show them I’m worth playing,” said Morgan, who was the game’s second-leading rusher with 65 yards on six carries.
Beyond those two and Wilson, eight other Lions had carries, though none more than two. Josh Morgan led Courtland with 13 rushes for 38 yards, while Qua DeBerry finished with 58 yards on four touches. Maurice Howard tallied the Cougars’ lone touchdown with a 15-yard run. Gil completed just 2-of-5 passes for 33 yards and one interception.
Louisa (1-0) will welcome Chancellor (0-1), another Battlefield District neighbor, for its home opener at the Jungle next Friday night.