As much as Dickerson wanted the Lions to upset No. 13 River Hill, he couldn’t help but worry as Charles and wide receiver Justin Marsh fought through the Hawks’ line.
Winter sports begin Nov. 15, and even if the two stay healthy through the rest of the football season, a trip to the playoffs might delay the pair’s return to the track.
The Lions, behind the efforts of Charles and Marsh, strengthened their chances at a postseason appearance with a 21-3 win against the Hawks in Ellicott City, Howard’s first against its county rival.
“The kids just believed,” Coach Bruce Strunk said. “In every part of our game, we played well.”
The Hawks, the two-time defending Maryland 3A champions, were effective in containing Charles in the first half to just 49 yards. But their focus on the Lions’ running game opened up room for junior quarterback Kevin Sheahin to find tight end Neil Caruso for an 18-yard touchdown pass four minutes 22 seconds into the second quarter.
Marsh got open on the right a little more than four minutes later and used his speed to take the ball 64 yards down the sideline to give the Lions (7-2, 7-2 Howard County) a 14-3 lead at the half.
Charles was able to make significantly more gains on the ground in the second half, including a three-carry, 22-yard drive that set the Lions up for a quarterback sneak across the goal line by Sheahin for the third and final touchdown of the game.
“I just never stop moving,” Charles said of his playing style.
That final drive was set up by an interception from defensive back Jamil Campbell, his second of the game.
The Hawks (7-2, 7-2) were plagued by penalties, turnovers — three interceptions and a fumble — and injuries throughout the game. Running back Aiden Gelb was hurt after a 16-yard reception. Guard Logan Kirby returned to the game after being sidelined by an injury at the end of the first half, but was clearly playing through pain.
It was the second loss in three weeks for the Hawks, who saw a 30-game win streak snapped by Hammond on Oct. 18.
“A win like this, it really boosts the morale,” Charles said. “We knew if we came out and played four quarters we could do it.”