La Plata and Northern share a few things in common: a new head coach, fewer than five wins each in the SMAC in the past two years and as of Saturday, a 1-1 record.
La Plata went 0-8, 1-9 in league play last year and opened 2013 with a 47-0 loss against Lackey. First-year Coach Seth Pettit comes to the area from Plains High School in Plains, Mont., and the “whistle-to-whistle” mentality he emphasized in the preseason has translated to the field. He’s making sure his players follow through with every tackle or catch not just till the last whistle of the play, but to the last whistle of the game.
“The biggest thing was that we finished,” Pettit said. “We finished and we pushed through that adversity and played the whole game as a team. We pushed toward that end goal.”
The Cavaliers scored their first touchdown on a 75-yard run in the third play of the game, and the Warriors seemed poised for another shutout loss at the end of the first half trailing Calvert by 12.
La Plata came out in the second half with an offensive momentum that spurred 28 unanswered points. It was after the third touchdown that the Warriors, as Pettit recalls, knew it was time to strike.
“We were like sharks,” he said. “We saw the blood in the water and we knew we were getting close.”
The Warriors managed to neutralize Calvert lineman Austin Long to open up the offense. Wide receiver Jake Pilkerton had five catches for 125 yards and a 55-yard touchdown catch, as well as a play where he shook off at least six tacklers, according to Pettit.
“It was an overall confidence booster,” Pettit said. “It shows long as we stick to that common goal of winning as a team, who knows what we can happen. It’s almost better that we came from behind, better than a 28-0 win because it showed us that we can be down to a good team, but as long as we stick to our jobs and game plan, things can turn out better for us.”
Northern’s Darren DeMeio joined the Patriots from an assistant position at St. Mary’s Ryken. The Patriots went 4-6 in SMAC last year with 196 points scored, while North Point finished 5-3 with 300 points. Northern quarterback Taylor Wagner took Huntingtown into overtime in Week 1 and followed up with 195 yards passing, 29 yards rushing and two touchdowns against North Point. Wide receiver Adam Swann had four receptions for 113 yards.
Northern also managed to contain standout Eagles running back Marquel Dickerson to one touchdown and 165 yards rushing—a fraction of his 268-yard, three-touchdown performance in a Week 1 loss to Patuxent.