Braden Anderson, ever since joining the Langley High football program as a freshman two years ago, has been groomed as a quarterback. He played the position for the Saxons’ freshmen team as a ninth grader, and took the snaps from center for the JV team last year.
This fall, Anderson, who stands a tall 6-foot-4 inches and weighs 170 pounds, is the varsity starter. It has been an up and down season for the junior signal caller, who has thrown for about 700 yards and four touchdowns while also throwing several interceptions. He was on his game last Friday night in leading the previously winless Saxons to their first victory of the season – a 28-13 triumph at non-district opponent Herndon.
Anderson, a textbook drop back passer, completed 16-of-26 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown pass. It was a huge win for Langley (1-4), which had lost a tough 21-14 overtime affair against visiting district rival Fairfax the week before. In that game, Langley led 14-7 late in the final quarter before the Rebels scored with just over two minutes remaining to tie the game before pulling off the win in the overtime. It was a game that got away from Langley.
“It’s been a rough road,” said Langley coach John Howerton, of his overall young squad that has been hit by injuries and illnesses.
Six Langley players, including three starters, were unable to suit up against Herndon for various reasons. One key player out of the lineup was talented sophomore running back Marcus Harvey.
But Anderson’s strong play against a physically smaller Herndon team gave the Saxons the lift they needed. His touchdown pass was a 92-yard scoring strike to senior wideout Chris Welby in the first quarter of a scoreless game. On the play, Anderson dropped back and threw a long sideline pass. A Herndon defensive back actually tipped the ball before Welby snatched it and ran 60 or so yards down the field for the score.
Anderson topped the touchdown off with a successful, two-point conversion pass to senior Ben Johnson.
Most of Anderson’s passes, with the exception of the long scoring play, were short aerials that proved to be successful.
“Braden played very well and was hitting his short passes,” said Howerton.
The coach said Anderson has all the tools to be a first rate high school quarterback and that, over the past couple of games in particular, he has played particularly well.
“He’s a very bright kid and we have been able to do things now where we can make [play or blocking] adjustments at the line of scrimmage,” said Howerton, who believes Anderson could be a future quarterback at the college level. “He’s a very good passer.
He’s a tall kid, he’s young and he has another year with us. He needs to get a little bigger physically, but he has a strong arm.”
<b>ANDERSON</b> has benefitted from a solid, physically big offensive line in front of him. Five Saxon linemen are all over 250 pounds, including two at around 290 and another well over 300. The solid line play has been a key factor in Anderson’s success. In three different games, he has thrown for over 200 yards.
Langley, behind its talented line, ran the ball well against the Hornets (3-2). Junior back Bryan Hofgard rushed for 80 yards on 14 carries and senior Abe Yi ran for 67 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Senior back Austin Pritchett ran for two scores. Langley displayed good offensive balance, rushing for about 200 yards to go with the 275 yards through the air.
“Herndon was very small,” said Howerton. “I think we wore them down up front. I think a key was to get back to what we’re known to do – run the football and throw short stuff. Obviously this was our best game.
“It was definitely a relief waking up the next morning [having won the night before],” said Howerton. “It’s already been a tough road. We’re real young and it has taken us a while to get our offense going.”
Getting into the win column could not have happened soon enough for a Saxons’ squad that opened the season with losses to Lake Braddock, Chantilly, Madison and Fairfax.
Langley is at Marshall this Friday night before coming home to meet Jefferson the following Friday. Both are winnable games that the Saxons must get before hosting defending Div. 5 Northern Region champion Stone Bridge (5-0) on Oct. 23.