Allen — whose blocked extra point preserved a 14-13 overtime victory over Freedom-South Riding — had executed the play hundreds of times over, but always on hardwood.
“It kinda was like basketball,” said Allen, who was an honorable mention All-Met pick in boys’ hoops as a sophomore, “because I jumped over the dude, and I just put my hand straight up.”
While studying film on the Eagles, Potomac Falls Coach Jason Allen spotted a consistent breakdown with the way Freedom protected on its kicks.
“All we had to do was push up this one dude [on the left side of the line], and there would be an open hole and we could block it every time,” Allen said.
Allen wasn’t supposed to be the man at the point of attack. Senior defensive back Garrett Pelto was pegged for the blocking detail, but injured his collarbone early in the game.
The Panthers (4-2) drilled blocks against their scout team all week during practice. In all, the maneuver required four players — three to clear a path and the other to charge through.
On Friday, Allen keyed the snap of the ball and needed just one bound to get behind everybody.
“I was really surprised that I got in so easy,” said the 6-foot-4 linebacker. “All I did was put my hands up, and I found myself right in front of the long snapper.”
The sensation of a block in either sport is unbridled exhilaration. But it’s the rarity of Friday’s game-clincher that stuck with Allen.
“Blocking a shot in basketball is a really good feeling,” he said. “But blocking a field goal in football is a big surprise, it doesn’t happen very often.”
Forest Park running back Nathan Gaines took the rain-slicked turf at Potomac (Va.) on Friday with clear instructions. His coaches directed the senior to run on his heels to better his balance under the tenuous footing. Before long, Gaines had the Panthers defenders reeling back on theirs.
“It was really uncomfortable,” Gaines said of the altered gait. “I couldn’t get up to full speed, but I did the best that I could.”
It was enough.
The senior carried 21 times for 130 yards and scored the Bruins’ lone offensive touchdown midway through the second quarter of a 16-0 shutout win.
“[The play-calling] reflected the weather a little bit more than anything else, but we did want to establish the run,” Bruins Coach David Coccoli said. “We really focused on that this week in practice.”
As heavy rains pelted the Woodbridge area for most of the week, the Bruins didn’t cancel workouts or take refuge inside the gym. They stayed outside.
Junior offensive lineman Chance Feemster used practice time to prepare his body – and his equipment – for the elements. While running laps, he learned how his cleats handled when caked with mud. After assuming his four-point stance inside a puddle, Feemster gleaned how much grip his tackified gloves had left after moisture seeped inside.
“All week, we were putting in 200 percent [effort] outside, every day in the rain,” Feemster said. “We were just making sure that nothing was going to get in the way when it was time to get out there.”
The Bruins (4-2) saw back-to-back losses to Osbourn Park and Osbourn as missed opportunities to separate themselves from a crowded pack in the Cardinal District.
“We felt like we let two slip by, and the kids weren’t very happy about it,” Coccoli said. “But the kids had a good week of practice, and that translated into playing well on Friday night.”