By Greg Brill -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- It's 10 years later, and Todd Hill still has a quarterback named Campbell.
In the fall of 1999, Lang Campbell led Handley to the Division 3 final game before the Judges lost to Bookville. Hill was in the middle of his coaching tenure at Handley at the time.
Fast forward to Friday night. Hill is now coaching at Loudoun County and the Raiders entered Wildcat Stadium to face the Wildcats with first-season starting quarterback Austin Campbell.
This Campbell can sling it, too. Holding just a seven-point lead at the half, the Raiders opened up the pass in the third quarter. A senior, Campbell tossed three touchdowns in a 28-point period as Loudoun County romped 42-7 in a non-district football game.
"We said after the Musselman game [a 38-0 win] that we had to show that we could throw the football," Hill said. "We couldn't keeping running and running, because we would see nine people in the box. If we're going to be a team that's competitive the rest of the year we've got to throw the ball."
All told, Campbell completed 11 of 13 passes for 185 yards.
"[Hill] definitely wanted to spread it out more," Campbell said. "I think our line did a tremendous job. In the first half, we did some bad things, but in the second half we got it turned around. They gave me everything and the receivers were catching balls.
"Coach Hill's been working with me all summer and telling me what to do right. I went to some camps and I'm trying to learn the offense as we go."
The Raiders picked up 416 total yards against a Warren County defense that was missing key starters Damien Caison and Gage Steele. Caison injured a knee in the Freedom game last week and Steele, also a standout at running back, turned an ankle playing volleyball in gym class on Friday and was on crutches watching from the sideline.
Minus two leaders, the Wildcats held up well early. The Raiders (2-0) scored first, on Kevin Fitts 8-yard run. On the first play when the Wildcats (1-2) got the ball back, Marty Haley ran off-tackle down the near sideline 72-yards for a touchdown.
The scoring run accounted for more than half of Haley's rushing total, as the senior finished with a game-high 137 yards on 12 carries.
On its next series, Loudoun County showcased things to come. Campbell had a 10-yard hookup with Michael Ayoub and a 21-yard completion to tight end (and Virginia Tech commit) Chase Williams. Two plays later, Campbell sneaked in from the 1 for a 14-7 lead.
When the second half resumed, the Raiders added a second tight end to the line and Campbell went to work picking apart Warren County.
"They came out in their two tight-end set and it's probably a good set for them," Warren County coach Tony Tallent said of the Raiders. "It's really heavy on the run threat and obviously both their tight ends have the ability to catch the ball."
The Raiders took the opening drive 59 yards in six plays for a score. Back-to-back swing passes to Mike Howard covered the final 44 yards, with Howard breaking several tackles on each catch. Then after a three-and-out by the Wildcats, Campbell found Ayoub on a slant from the Warren County 25.
Ayoub bounced off a hit while he made the catch and raced to the end zone to put Loudoun County up 28-7.
"That was huge -- I think that was the turning point," Campbell said of Ayoub's catch-and-score. "[Haley] could do anything and put them back in it, so Mike had a big play and really put the game out of reach."
Held without a catch in the Raiders' opening week win (Aug. 28) against Musselman (W.Va), Ayoub had a game-high four receptions for 47 yards. He also caused havoc with well over 100 yards in returns, setting up Loudoun County on several of its scores.
"It's my first year doing it and I've begged coach to let me do returns," Ayoub said. "It felt really good to break the game open in the second half."
The Wildcats were in a state of shock after Haley fumbled the kickoff and Jack Reimers returned the loose ball 30 yards for a score. Two scores in less than 20 seconds had the Raiders ahead 35-7 and the game on ice.
"I thought we had two or three minutes where we had some problems getting fluid and consistent," Tallent said. "We need to avoid the big emotion-changer. We have to work that out of our game."
The Raiders final score came on another play-action pass, this one covering 26 yards from Campbell to Bryan Huber late in the third quarter.