With many new faces, including a head coach, for the Flint Hill Huskies this season the story was an old one regarding the result of the football team’s opening game of the 2019 campaign – another comfortable victory.
Flint Hill rallied from an early 6-0 deficit to defeat the host Paul VI Catholic Panthers, 28-6, Sept. 6 in Fairfax for the high-school team’s 23rd straight victory.
The Huskies blew out the majority of their opponents the last two seasons under head coach Tom Verbanic in winning back-to-back Division I state private-school championships with 11-0 records each season.
Verbanic stepped down after last season and now Jason Thomas has taken over. His first game in charge was a success.
"For the first game we were sloppy at times, dropped some passes and didn't always execute like we wanted. But we started with a win and that was the main thing," Thomas said. "We played better in the second half and we communicated as coaches better."
Senior runningback/receiver Justice Ellison led the Flint Hill offense rushing and receiving and scored three touchdowns. His 51-yard catch and run for a touchdown from Alex Ballinger and Dylan Logue's first of four extra points gave Flint Hill a 7-6 second-quarter lead.
In the second half, Ellison scored on a 32-yard pass from Ballinger, had a one-yard TD run, and Ballinger threw a flanker screen to Zach Garcia that went 47 yards for a score.
Ellison had 61 yards rushing, caught four passes for 108 yards and had 22 yards in kick returns.
Garcia had six catches for 130 yards, Ballinger was 11 of 16 passing for 222 yards and three TDs, and Jaylin Hertz had 24 yards rushing. Ballinger had 16 yards rushing.
Flint Hill had 368 total yards and did not turn the ball over. Thomas was not happy with the 70 yards in penalties.
"As the season goes on, we think we will clean up some things and get better as we learn and understand the process better," Thomas said.
On defense for Flint Hill, the Huskies had a big fourth-down stop deep in their territory in the second half and Hertz and Sami Khleifat recovered fumbles. Paul VI had 268 total yards.