Leonardtown captured its first victory since 2000 with a 44-28 nonconference win over La Plata in its season opener. It was the first victory for first-year Coach Alan Raley and the debut of junior quarterback Josh Bhattacharya. Bhattacharya went on to lead the Washington area in passing through the first seven games of the season with 1,334 yards before breaking his collarbone.
In the highest-scoring game of the season, McDonough outlasted Thomas Stone, 55-30. Rams senior tailback Jay Muschette rushed for 244 yards and four touchdowns, and senior fullback Scott Wilkinson added 112 yards and one touchdown. Thomas Stone senior quarterback Antonio Lewis countered with his best passing day of the year, completing five passes for a 235 yards and two touchdowns.
Northern improved its record to 5-1, its best start in more than five years, with an impressive 40-20 win over Patuxent in a game that was postponed because of the sniper attacks in the Washington area. Senior tailback Delannie Spriggs continued his breakout season, rushing for 256 yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries. This followed a performance against La Plata in which Spriggs also scored four times -- once rushing, twice receiving and once on an interception return.
First-year Lackey Coach Scott Chadwick called a trick play in the game's closing minutes to pull out a dramatic 15-14 win over Thomas Stone. Trailing 14-7, Lackey junior quarterback Damian Shorter pitched the ball to juniorCourtney Knight, who completed a halfback option pass with a 50-yard toss to senior Thaddeus Hicks. The play set up a 5-yard scoring run by sophomore tailback Morgan Green, who added the two-point conversion for the one-point victory.
Out of the playoff hunt and enduring an up-and-down season, defending SMAC and regional champion Patuxent posted a hard-fought 27-20 win over rival Calvert. Senior quarterback Justyn Lankford passed for 179 yards in the victory, which senior wide receiver Luis Perez declared was "like a championship game." It was Patuxent's third consecutive victory over Calvert.
Chopticon senior linebacker Terrell Reeves was a one-man wrecking crew in the Braves' 31-14 upset win over Westlake, ending the Wolverines' playoff hopes. Reeves racked up more than a dozen key tackles in the win, including a crucial second-quarter sack that ended a nine-minute Westlake drive without a point. Senior wide receiver Jacob Miller led Chopticon's offense with four catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns and also posted a 86-yard kickoff return for his third score.
Thomas Stone, which had upset Northern the week before, ended its season with an impressive 44-34 win over rival Westlake in the first game in the series now dubbed the 301 Classic. Junior fullback Mike Dodson exploded for a career-high 213 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries, breaking free for gains of 74, 49 and 67 yards. And though it didn't show in the postgame statistics, watching Westlake junior defensive back Jared Fagan come from nowhere to chase down Dodson on two of those long runs was unforgettable.
For the first time in years the annual matchup between Northern and Calvert, the SMACs oldest rivals, meant something. With the SMAC and 3A South Region titles at stake, Calvert claimed both in a 21-6 victory that showcased the Cavaliers' speed and defensive prowess. Senior tailback Dervon Wallace rushed for 232 yards and two touchdowns with former coach Jerry Franks watching from the opposite sideline. Senior defensive back Jerome Brooks returned his team-leading eighth interception of the season 23 yards for a touchdown.
Calvert, its bleachers packed with fans, players and coaches from around the league, benefited from six turnovers in its 37-0 smashing of previously unbeaten Gwynn Park. Senior quarterback Joe Procopio completed a season-high nine of 14 passes for 131 yards, including two beautifully placed touchdown tosses of 23 and 66 yards to Brooks and senior Taros Harris, respectively.
Calvert was knocked out of the postseason with a 33-26 loss to Seneca Valley, but the Cavaliers still mounted a dramatic comeback. Down 20-7 at halftime, Calvert kept fighting. Its three big guns -- Brooks, Harris and Wallace -- each scored in the second half on plays worthy of highlight reels. Harris's was a gutsy 9-yard run on 4th-and-7 from the 9-yard line; Brooks's was an acrobatic 14-yard touchdown reception from Procopio; and Wallace's was an electrifying 64-yard run off a screen pass with just 1:15 remaining.
-- Angela Watts