SPOTSYLVANIA—The 2018 season didn’t end the way the Louisa football team envisioned it would.
On a cold November night in front of their home crowd, the Lions found themselves stunned and in absolute disbelief after a one-point lead evaporated on a twice-tipped Hail Mary pass in the closing seconds of a 19-14 loss to Eastern View in the Region 4B semifinals.
With the lions’ share—no pun intended—of that squad back this fall, head coach Will Patrick has said that they’re determined to turn the page and erase the memory of that heartbreak.
The determination to do just that was apparent on Friday night, as Louisa dominated host Courtland in every facet of the game on its way to a season-opening 39-6 victory.
“That [Eastern View] game has been sitting with us for nine months,” Louisa head coach Will Patrick said. “It’s been a long offseason, but these kids are incredibly motivated and have put in a lot of hard work.”
After fumbling away an opportunity to score inside the Cougars’ 10-yard line on their first possession of the game, the Lions’ offense operated with the efficiency of a unit that looked more like it was in playoff form than playing its first game of the year.
Senior running back Jarett Hunter ran over and around the Courtland defense for 216 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, pacing a Louisa rushing attack that generated 337 yards. His 2-yard dive put the Lions up 7-0 with 4:52 left in the first quarter, and he set up two other scores with a pair of big runs in the second quarter, propelling the Lions to a commanding 25-0 halftime lead.
Hunter, a Class 4 all-state selection after rushing for 1,505 yards and 25 touchdowns as a junior, said he’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Louisa’s loaded backfield.
“I think we have some of the best running backs in Virginia,” he remarked. “The other guys run real hard and give the same amount of effort as I do, so when I come out [of the game], they’re coming in and providing the same production as I am.
“It also helps when our offensive line is getting a good push up front and creating holes for us, which they did [tonight],” Hunter added.
One of the running backs Hunter referenced is junior Robert Morgan IV, who scampered for 65 yards and a pair of scores on just six carries. His first trip to the endzone—a 6-yard run with 46 seconds remaining in the first half—came after a 65-yard jaunt by Hunter that flipped field position from the Lions’ 7-yard line to the Cougars’ 28.
Senior Adrian Williams was the other benefactor of Hunter’s heroics, notching an 11-yard touchdown run just two plays after Hunter converted a fourth-and-2 play with a 10-yard pickup.
Morgan’s second touchdown run was an 11-yarder that capped a five-play, 70-yard drive at the beginning of the third quarter and extended Louisa’s advantage to 32-0.
Quarterback Landon Wilson added a 1-yard sneak that made it 39-0 with 10:41 left in the game.
A freshman, Wilson also completed 7 of 13 passes for 86 yards in his first career start.
“I think he did a pretty good job for his first game,” Morgan said of Wilson. “We couldn’t have asked for much more from him.”
Louisa’s offense wasn’t the only impressive outfit on Courtland’s brand-new blue turf on Friday night. The Lions’ defense forced three turnovers (two fumbles and an interception), registered a safety and limited the Cougars to 169 yards of total offense—99 of which came on their final two drives.
Senior Maurice Howard scored Courtland’s lone touchdown on a 15-yard run with 21 seconds left in the game. Junior Qua DeBerry led the Cougars with 57 yards rushing on four carries.
Courtland head coach J.C. Hall was quick to identify what went wrong for his team.
“We knew coming in that we’d have to play mistake-free football and be strong at the line of scrimmage,” he said. “We didn’t do either of those things, and it snowballed on us pretty quickly against a heck of a team.”
Hunter said Louisa’s dominating effort was representative of the team’s mindset this season.
“The [Eastern View] game left a bad taste in our mouth,” he said. “We want to put it out of our minds, so this year it’s about shutting down teams so we’re never in that kind of situation again.”