Loudon blanks Brainerd in first region test

Loudon High School's Semy Turner runs past a defender Friday in the Redskins' 35-0 win over the Brainerd High School Panthers.

For a third straight week, the Loudon High School Redskins brought intensity to the field and picked up the first Region 3-3A win of the season with a 35-0 shutout of the Brainerd High School Panthers.

“I thought it was a good start to our quest for a region championship,” Jeff Harig, LHS head football coach, said. “I thought our guys came out, took care of business and did what they had to do. Once again, we had some things that were self-inflicted mistakes — we had some offsides penalties, had another bad attempt at a field goal, so there was enough negative there to keep us humble ... but there was some good play and a stellar defensive stand to preserve the shutout.”

The Redskins established a potent rushing attack early in the first quarter with four consecutive runs by senior Drew Jackson and junior McKenzie Lunsford for 34 yards to set up an eventual 9-yard touchdown run by Jackson.

LHS offensive coordinator Candics Jones then switched it up on the next offensive series, with sophomore quarterback Keaton Harig completing four straight passes for 50 yards to set up a goal-line touchdown by Jackson to give the Redskins a 14-0 lead heading into the second quarter.

“We felt like our advantage coming in was our size up front and kind of wanted to feel out how they were going to play some things at the second level of their defense,” Jeff Harig said. “Anytime you have a guy like Drew Jackson, that’s an easy way to move the ball. We stuck with it and once we were able to see how they were going to play and what things were going to be available to us in the passing game, we took advantage of some of those things in the second drive.”

Brainerd struggled throughout the game, including a crucial running-into-the-kicker penalty that proved fatal for gaining any momentum.

The Redskins capitalized at midfield and scored in six plays with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Keaton Harig to tight end Noah Burnette to go up 21-0.

Keaton Harig capped off the first half with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jackson to extend the Redskins’ lead to 28-0.

“There were enough mistakes where guys weren’t focused,” Jeff Harig said. “Luckily, we didn’t have to take a timeout or anything, so there was a few of those. We had an offsides penalty on defense, we had a big holding penalty that negated a touchdown, so there were enough mistakes in the first half that the guys weren’t going to be able to be too confident going into the second half.”

The Redskins carried the momentum into the second half with a four-and-out stop on defense, followed by a five-play scoring drive that ended with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Keaton Harig to freshman receiver Semy Turner.

Loudon’s defense closed out the game to match the Redskins’ win total from last season.

“I thought we just stuck to the plan,” Jeff Harig said. “Our plan all along was to force them to execute and deny the big play. They hit some things on us. They had success doing a few things, but, ultimately, we never let them get behind us and get over the top. We forced three turnovers, I believe, so they came up big. We stayed ahead of the down-and-distance, so I was proud of their effort.”