There’s a few ways to describe the importance of Friday’s game. It’s the tenth meeting in a neighborhood rivalry, a contested battle for bragging rights, a game that has eighth grade teammates facing off at quarterback and a chance for returning running backs to rack up yards.
But at it’s simplest, No. 13 Huntingtown’s trip to Lusby is a measuring stick, according to Patuxent Coach Steve Crounse. It’s a chance for both teams, the two undefeated squads in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference, to assess where they are halfway through the season.
“Not every high school football player gets to play in a game as anticipated and electric as this,” Crounse said. “This is a game, win or lose, you remember for the rest of your life.”
The Panthers (5-0, 4-0 SMAC) took the first four games in the series, but a five-game Huntingtown streak began in 2008.
The Hurricanes (5-0, 5-0) won 42-35 last year.
Huntingtown’s offensive line was “once a question mark, now a strength,” according to Coach Brendan Galligan. The line is anchored by senior tackles Steven Hill and Shayne Cannon and center Joshua Clagett and has Crounse emphasizing the fundamentals.
“We need to try to maintain the line of scrimmage as best as we can and stay within our technique and play good fundamental football,” Crounse said. “If we get away from fundamentals it could be a long night.”
The Panthers’ “Jekyll and Hyde” defense will have to show up to shut down running back Arnez Bowens, who announced his return from a state suspension with 35 carries for 274 yards and two touchdowns last week.
His Patuxent counterpart, Rafiq Douglas, will make his home debut for 2013 after straining the medial collateral ligament and anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the first scrimmage of 2013.
His absence in the first three games gave junior quarterback Tyler Crounse the opportunity to work on picking up rushing yards of his own and “being able to gas the defenses when they overcommit,” said his father and coach. It’s also given Patuxent the opportunity to develop a more dynamic offense than years past.
“They’re extremely explosive on offense,” Galligan said. “They could always score points and get yards, but this year their passing game is much improved to go along with the running game.”