When Austin Talley sprinted in from the sideline on Louisa’s first offensive possession of the second half and lined up at the sniffer spot in the single wing, it was obvious exactly what Louisa County was going to do.
“At halftime I said we’re going to go old school Louisa single wing — we’re going to run the ball, take care of the ball and do your job and it’s going to be a fun second half,” said Louisa coach Will Patrick.
When Savion Hiter broke through for two long gains and Landon Wilson capped that physical drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge, it was obvious it was going to work too. The Lions leaned on that physical run game throughout the second half and despite a Herculean effort by Amaje Parker and Noah Grevious on offense for Albemarle, Louisa secured at least a share of its sixth-straight Jefferson District title with a 69-34 win.
“At halftime I challenged the o-line and they came out here and responded and it was an amazing thing,” said Louisa defensive lineman Qwenton Spellman. “It shows we can do a lot.”
The showdown of the two undefeated Jefferson District squads featured the most points ever scored by a Louisa County football team in a single game, and the freshman Hiter led the way. Hiter rushed for 242 yards and five touchdowns on just 18 touches and while the offense gave him some huge running lanes in the second half, he went to work at the second level, showing off his quickness and balance with runs that were equal parts bruising and electrifying. He finished one third quarter run by running over a player near the five and he finished another with a deadleg juke move that left the defender grasping for air.
“He’s the best running back I’ve ever seen and he’s only a freshman,” Patrick said. “I just know we have a chance every time he touches it. He just runs so hard, his balance, he is a player man. A lot of things are going to happen for him over the next three and a half years and he deserves every bit of it because he is a great young man and person.”
Despite all that success on the ground, the Lions got the scoring started with a touchdown pass. Immediately after Wilson intercepted a pass on Albemarle’s first drive, Wilson hit Dyzier Carter on a 36-yard toss down the left side. Albemarle answered with a drive capped by a 53-yard touchdown toss from Parker to Christian Humes.
Hiter scored his first touchdown a few minutes later for a 14-7 lead on the final play of the first quarter. The Lions then called an onsides kick and Talley pounced on the ball to give the Lions a short field with a one-touchdown lead. Talley finished with 107 yards and a touchdown on just five carries and was critical to clearing the way for Hiter all night.
“He finally got what he earned, he blocks for us every game and barely gets the ball,” Wilson said. “We gave him the ball a few times and he really made up for it.”
Louisa averaged 11.4 yards per carry as a team, with Wilson rushing for 126 yards on 17 touches to give the Lions three 100-yard rushers on the night.
“You know I like to pass the ball, I’m a quarterback and I want to get the ball to my boy Dyzier, but Savion is a really, really great player,” Wilson said. “He gets in space and nobody is tackling him.”
In the single wing in the second half, Hiter just got going downhill and in the third quarter, he scored from 12, 19 and 42 yards out with the 42-yarder increasing the Louisa lead to 48-20 and putting the game largely out of reach for the Patriots.
Albemarle missed the services of injured defensive end Malekye Hicks on the edge, especially when the Lions went physical in the second half. The defense held up well early, but in the second quarter, that unit essentially spent the entire time on the field. That showed up later when Louisa shifted to the Lion wing, as Albemarle slowly ran out of bodies.
“Third quarter it got physical and we got a little tired up front and those kids can play,” said Albemarle coach Brandon Isaiah, Sr. “We couldn’t get the stops we needed, they played a great game tonight, all respect to them, I hope they go out and ball out in the playoffs, just like I hope we do as well.”
While Louisa went to the single wing to put it on their gamechanger in Hiter, Albemarle went empty, with quads to the left side of the formation and Grevious isolated on the right. Grevious didn’t score in the second half, but he picked up huge chunks of yards and a number of critical first downs. Parker threw for 307 yards and four touchdowns on 19-for-34 passing.
Louisa’s pass rush prevented the Patriots from getting fully into a rhythm in the fourth as Spellman and Eli Brooks started just flying in with the Patriots fully committed to moving it through the air.
“That’s a really good football team, they’ve got some guys man, they’ve got some guys,” Patrick said. “I just thought our toughness put us over the top.”
Both teams are in position for the playoffs, with Louisa facing Goochland in the regular season finale next week while Albemarle will look to bounce back against Fluvanna County at home.