Facing a state champion from Maryland, the Hylton High School football players were keen on reminding--or enlightening--the Washington area about the strength of their team. The 30-6 home win Thursday night over No. 20 Friendly did that.
But for the No. 2 Bulldogs, even more important than flaunting their skills was reassuring themselves that they are still one of the more powerful programs in the area. That fact was not necessarily evident Aug. 27 in Hylton's season-opening, 19-15 squeaker at Petersburg.
"It went a lot better," senior quarterback Kenny Irby said of the team's performance Thursday night in the Bulldogs' 18th consecutive victory. "Coming off the Petersburg win we didn't think we played up to what we can play up to, so we came out here and showed what we can do."
There was much to display. Irby threw just seven times, but he completed five of the throws, three for touchdowns to Alex Mason, D.J. Walton and Drew Feldman. Running backs Quintin Beltran, Karibi DeDe and Walton rushed for about 50 yards apiece against the defending Maryland 3A champion.
The offensive line, even with guard Billy Reyers out with a slightly strained knee ligament, gave Irby better protection. And the first-string defense allowed no points, despite two muffed punts in the first half that gave the Patriots an open invitation to score.
"I'm pleased with the improvement if you look at where we were and where we are," Hylton Coach Bill Brown said. "But I know where we need to go, and we're not there."
What most pleased Brown was his team's heartier stamina, which in turn spurred more spirited defensive play. Fatigue had been a concern at Petersburg. The defending Virginia AAA Division 6 state champion Bulldogs also defended the pass well, limiting Friendly quarterback Moriah Anderson to just four completions in 16 attempts. Jason Conlon intercepted a pass from his linebacker spot in addition to filling in for Reyers on the offensive line. Reyers is likely to return this week.
So while several Bulldogs stood out, Brown thinks it was the teams that were most in the spotlight. He likes the out-of-state, yet nearby, high-profile matchups. He has another one Friday when Hylton hosts No. 5 Dunbar (D.C.)
"We're in a metropolitan area where everybody has some awareness of these other programs," Brown said. "If we were in Richmond, I don't think they'd know DeMatha from Friendly from Seneca Valley from Robinson from Lake Braddock from Hylton. Up here these are familiar names. [A game like this] generates interest for a lot of different areas."
Fourth-year Friendly coach George Earley, whose team will host the Bulldogs next season, also likes to face well-known programs outside of his Prince George's County area.
"This is exciting," Earley said after the game Thursday night. "That's what I wanted to bring to the program. [But] I didn't come out here to get a whupping like this."
Friendly (0-2) 0 0 0 6--6
Hylton (2-0) 7 10 13 0--30
H--Walton 12 run (Wilfong kick)
H--Mason 28 pass from Irby (Wilfong kick)
H--FG Wilfong 29
H--Walton 19 pass from Irby (kick failed)
H--Feldman 20 pass from Irby (Wilfong kick)
F--Anderson 2 run (run failed)
RUSHING--Friendly: Lane 28-144; Hylton: Beltran 6-56; Walton 5-44, DeDe 11-54.
PASSING--Friendly: Anderson 4-16-1 77; Hylton: Irby 5-7-0 124.
RECEIVING--Friendly: Brown 2-54, Powell 1-12, Lebron 1-11; Hylton: Walton 2-67, Mason 1-28, Feldman 1-20, Simpson 1-9.
CAPTION: Friendly's David Malloy tries to stop D.J. Walton from scoring during Hylton's 30-6 victory.