Orlando brothers.jpg

Luca (left) and Nico Orlando.

Loren White knew nothing about Luca and Nico Orlando when the two brothers arrived at Brentsville High School over the summer.

But as the preseason got underway, the Tigers head coach quickly realized the Colgan transfers could contribute right away.

They’ve lived up to their promise in helping the Tigers (10-2) reach the Class 3 Region B final Friday at 6 p.m. at Meridian (10-2) in a matchup that will send the winner to the state semifinals for the first time.

Luca, a senior, starts at cornerback and wide receiver, where he earned first-team all-district honors, while Nico, a sophomore, has become a valuable option as a reserve running back.

“They are definitely welcome additions,” White said.

Of the two, only Luca played wide receiver, safety and some quarterback last season at Colgan, which went 0-6 during the pandemic-shortened season. Nico missed the season, which was moved from the fall of 2020 to the spring of 2021, after breaking his ankle in January.

They moved into Brentsville’s school zone over the summer knowing a little about the Tigers’ football program.

Brentsville had a new head coach in White. They’d had success after reaching the postseason six straight seasons. And there was a family connection. Their cousin Beau Lang was a standout quarterback who earned second-team all-region honors last season before transferring to Kettle Run this school year.

Luca and Nico quickly acclimated to their new teammates and school. They have enjoyed the culture change, going from a struggling program at Colgan to a thriving one at Brentsville, even if the Tigers play three classifications down from their previous school.

More than anything, it’s nice to play this deep in the season, something neither is accustomed to.

“It’s always exciting to play a couple extra games,” said Luca as he braced for the harsh winds Monday blowing across Brentsville’s practice field.

At 6-3, 160 pounds, Luca is built like his father Mark, a first-team all-American wide receiver at Towson who went on to play in the Canadian Football League and is a member of the school’s athletic hall of fame.

Luca has been Brentsville’s primary receiving target, catching a team-high 20 passes for 344 yards and six touchdowns. He can keep the secondary honest and prevent them from trying to push up and stop the run.

Over the second half of the season, the 5-9, 180-pound Nico has developed into an effective complement for leading rusher Bryce Jackson (1,170 yards, 23 TDs). Nico has totaled 482 of his 631 rushing yards and all nine of his touchdowns in Brentsville’s last seven games.

“He provides a nice change of pace,” White said. “He hits the holes well with speed and full force. He’s someone you get out of the way for.”

Nico’s biggest performance of the season came at an opportune time. Brentsville trailed James Monroe last Friday 21-0 early in the second quarter of the region semifinals.

The Tigers closed to within seven at halftime before tying it up at the start of the third quarter. Then Nico took over.

On his second carry of the game, he ran for a 40-yard touchdown to give Brentsville the lead. He followed up with two more touchdown runs of 10 and 35 yards in the fourth quarter as the Tigers rallied for a 48-28 win. He also had a 70-yard touchdown run called back because of a penalty. Nico finished with 161 rushing yards on nine carries.

“They’ve gelled with the team from day one,” White said.

David Fawcett is the sports editor for InsideNoVa.com. Reach him at dfawcett@insidenova.com

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