Before the season began, Friendly and long-time coach Jim Crawford felt the Patriots had a better-than-average chance at winning the Prince George's AA League title and earning a state playoff berth. There were a number of talented returning lettermen, particularly along the offensive line.
One of the most improved players from last year's 7-3 team was offensive tackle Joe Leyson.
But Leyson, who had worked dilligently to improve his techniques and build up his strength, suffered a broken ankle on the next-to-last play of a preseason scrimmage with Archbishop Carroll. The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder is out for the year.
"That was a terrible blow for us," Crawford said. "He made some mistakes last year, but worked and had become a pretty good player. He is a smart kid and it hurts to lose someone who spent so much time trying to improve."
Without Leyson, Crawford had to do some shuffling along the offensive line. The Patriots lost to Annapolis, 16-8, in their opener, but bounced back to shut out Parkdale, 24-0.
Leyson, who is an A student and takes accelerated advance placement courses at Friendly, said he is very disappointed he won't be able to play, particularly since this is his senior season.
"I played JV in the 10th grade and was a starter last year," Leyson said. "I was a bit shaky, but I worked hard, gained 15 pounds and was set to go this year. Then this happens to me."
Even had he stayed healthy, Leyson said he wasn't interested in a college football scholarship.
"I prefer academics anyway. Football is fun but high school football was enough for me," he said. "I hadn't planned on playing in college. I had gotten serious about football because of the work I had done to improve myself. Now I can just concentrate on my studies again. They are very important to me."
Leading the list of early surprise teams is Einstein, which pulled off another major shocker last week with its 23-7 triumph over defending Maryland Class A state champion Magruder. The victory also ended the Colonels' 13-game winning streak.
Another team raising eyebrows is Gwynn Park. The Yellow Jackets, who are more widely known because of their basketball prowess, won their second straight game, besting Potomac, 12-7, for first-year head coach Mike Cavallini.
A year ago, Gwynn Park finished 0-10, failing to score a point in its last nine games. The team snapped its 10-game losing streak with a 14-0 season-opening win over Leonardtown.
Teams off to slow starts include Mount Vernon, which blanked in its first game, 24-0; Gar-Field, which has scored only one touchdown in its first two games; and High Point, which has also managed just one touchdown in two games.
There are some very interesting games this weekend including the H.D. Woodson-McNamara game Saturday. Although Woodson lacks the huge size it has been known for in recent years, Coach Bob Headen says this is one of his better teams.
The Warriors have a fine quarterback in Henderson Mosley and an aggressive defense. Mosley threw four touchdown passes in a 51-6 win over Roosevelt.