Throughout the year, Forestville's football team struck fear in its opponents with a nearly unstoppable offense that averaged 34.2 points per game. But in last Friday's Maryland 1A final at Byrd Stadium in College Park, it was Forestville's suffocating defense that dominated.
The 10th-ranked Knights held Brunswick to 62 yards of total offense and three first downs en route to a 14-0 victory and their first state title in school history. The shutout was the fifth of the season for a defense that surrendered just 6.2 points per game. The Knights (11-2) blanked two of three postseason opponents and outscored teams 109-7 in the playoffs.
"A lot of people have overlooked our defense, because our offense has been so good," Forestville Coach Michael Mayo said. "We really focused on our defense because in the playoffs, you've got to play good defense. Like they say, offense sells tickets, but defense wins games."
Brunswick (10-3), which was making its first trip to the state finals, only moved into Forestville territory three times and never past the 45-yard line. The Railroaders' deepest drive came with the Knights leading, 7-0, with 2 minutes 19 seconds remaining in the third quarter when they reached the Knights 46. But junior safety Larry McClain came down with his Washington area-leading 13th interception on a deep pass to end the threat.
"The quarterback kind of just lofted it up," said McClain, who also rushed for 113 yards on 15 carries and, two plays earlier, scored on a 21-yard burst up the middle on fourth and three. "The defensive line deserves most of the credit. They're the one's who put the pressure on."
After a scoreless first half, Mayo used the 1-hour 20-minute intermission caused by a lightning delay to make offensive adjustments. The biggest change was replacing starting quarterback Steve Crudup with Pierre Hawkins to provide a better rushing attack on a slick field drenched by a steady rain.
The strategy worked, as the Knights rushed for 184 yards in the second half after gaining 37 in the first half. Hawkins capped an eight play, 81-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown run to put Forestville ahead, 14-0, with 4:12 remaining.
"Once we got to the second half, we needed more options so I went with Hawkins, because we figured we'd need to open it up a bit," Mayo said. "He gave us a threat on the perimeter. But the bottom line was the defense. We wanted to get seven points as soon as possible, because we knew we could hold them."
CAPTION: Forestville quarterback Steve Crudup, tackled by Brunswick's Pat Smith, helped Knights earn first-ever state crown.