It took a few offensive series’ last Friday night for Langley High’s football offense, particularly its passing game, to get into a good rhythm. But once the Saxons, behind senior quarterback Braden Anderson, got rolling, they were tough to stop and defeated Liberty District and host team Fairfax, 28-21.
The loss was somewhat of a downer for Fairfax, which had a huge home crowd on hand in celebration of the school’s week-long 75th Anniversary celebration as well as it being homecoming weekend.
“It was a great atmosphere to me,” said Langley coach John Howerton, whose team took away some of the home crowd’s festive mood by overcoming a 21-14 third quarter deficit by scoring the game’s final two touchdowns. “They’ve got a great facility here with a new [turf] field and great concrete bleachers. It was a great crowd. Our kids seemed to enjoy it. I told them this is why you come out and play football – to be a part of the main show.”
The Saxons, in fact, put on quite a show behind their prolific passing attack. Anderson and the offense struggled initially, going three plays and out over their first two series with the tall, 6-foot-3 inch signal caller connecting on just one of his first four passes.
But Langley came to life on its third possession. Following a first down incompletion, Anderson, considered one of the top QB’s in the Northern Region, began heating up. He hit senior wide receiver Troy Scharfen for a 12-yard pickup to the Rebels’ 44. Later in the drive, he connected on back to back aerials to Scharfen (13 and 15 yards) to get the ball down to the one yard line where, two plays later, fullback Connor Curry pounded the ball into the end zone for the game’s first points.
“It took a couple of series to figure out how Fairfax’s defense was playing us,” said Howerton, whose team is averaging over 30 pass attempts per game. “But our quarterback is smart and knows [defensive] schemes.”
Fairfax put together scoring drives on its next two possessions, to the delight of the partisan Rebel faithful.
But on its final possession of the first half, Langley marched 75 yards on nine plays and got the game-tying touchdown on a one yard plunge into the end zone by senior Bryan Hofgard. The biggest play of the march came when Anderson found Scharfen on a long sideline pass down the left side of the field for a 43-yard gain to the Fairfax 15. Two plays later, the talented QB found Hofgard off the left side for a 14 yard pickup to the two. Langley scored two plays later and, following Farhan Khan’s second successful extra point kick of the night, the game was tied at 14.
Moments later, the first half ended with defensive back Austin Vasiliados picking off a long down field pass by Fairfax quarterback Spencer MacLeod.
<b>FAIRFAX OPENED</b> the second half with a scoring drive to go up 21-14. But, once again, the Saxons’ offense answered with a 65-yard scoring march. Anderson completed four-of-six passes on the drive, the final completion coming on a rollout play in which it appeared he would be run down from behind.
Under enormous pressure, Anderson threw the ball on the run and hit Scharfen for an 11 yard pickup to the Fairfax 10. Langley scored on the next play on a run by Philip Mun.
The Saxons’ next possession came in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 21-21. Langley needed just two plays to score, the touchdown coming on a 49-yard passing strike from Anderson to Scharfen down the right sideline with 7 minutes, 26 seconds left to play.
Langley’s defense held Fairfax from that point on and the Saxons had won.
Anderson was 11-of-20 for 203 yards with the one TD toss. His primary target was Scharfen (6 catches, 147 yards, 1 TD).
“He’s an all-district player from last year and really throws a nice ball,” said Fairfax coach Kevin Simonds, of Anderson. “He’s a great player.”
Fairfax senior defensive back Sam Bechert covered Scharfen most of the night and said he had his hands full.
“He’s a good receiver and they have a good quarterback,” said Bechert, a team captain.
Howerton said the passing duo of Anderson and Scharfen could be the best in the region. Langley, in years past, focused mostly on running the ball. But that has changed in recent years.
“They’re the best [QB-receiver combination] I’ve worked with in a long time,” said Howerton. “That’s a rarity here. Troy is small but strong. He’s an athlete and he’s tall. He’s got great hands and he can block. Braden [at QB] is tall and has a great arm. He’s an extremely smart kid and knows our schemes.”
Langley’s offensive line has allowed just three sacks this season, allowing Anderson time to throw the football.
Langley, which two weeks ago defeated Madison in overtime for its first win of the season, has now won two straight following an 0-2 start. This Friday night at 7:30, the Saxons will host Herndon.