Westlake 34, Northern 10
With a decisive 34-10 victory over Northern on Friday night that included contributions from most of its roster, the Westlake football team showed that this would be no rebuilding year.
Aaris Reed rushed for three touchdowns and a game-high 119 yards, Darius Harris added two more running scores and 75 yards, and Pha'Terrell Washington rushed for 107 yards on eight carries as the Wolverines defeated the host Patriots in the season opener.
"People thought we wouldn't be ready because we lost so many essential seniors," said Reed, referring to the graduation losses of running back Jared Fagan and offensive linemen Trey Tonsing and Robert Vermillion, each of whom was an All-Extra last season. "This was a statement."
Despite generating little offense after the opening moments of the game, Northern (0-1, 0-1 Southern Maryland Athletic Conference) stayed close before bowing out against a deep Westlake team.
The Patriots led 10-7 early in the second quarter after an 18-yard touchdown run by quarterback Andrew Athens and Wesley Fowler's 42-yard field goal, but the Wolverines (1-0, 1-0 SMAC) scored the final 27 points of the game.
The game represented a tough early-season matchup for two teams hoping to challenge Lackey for the SMAC title this season.
Westlake has been near the top of the league since becoming a varsity squad in 1994, never having a losing record.
The Wolverines look strong again, especially after they broke through a tough Northern defense Friday. In the second half, Westlake had five drives; three ended in touchdowns, one ended in a fumble and the other went 45 yards before the game ended.
The Wolverines were told by their coaches not to worry about players lost to graduation, but to be prepared to fill those vacant spots, Harris said.
"The credit has to go to our coaches," Harris said. "The coaches said, 'Now it's your turn to step up and play.' "
Northern, which went 8-3 and advanced to the state playoffs last year and was 7-3 in 2002 after years near the bottom of the league, is trying to find a new identity after losing All-Met quarterback Sean Schaefer to graduation.
The Patriots didn't attempt a pass until the middle of the third quarter, as their passing plays almost always led to scrambles or sacks. Finally, in the third quarter, Athens completed a pass, but Northern's final two attempts, by Jimmy Schaefer, Sean's brother, were intercepted.
The Patriots were committed to the run, but they struggled against a punishing Westlake defense led by senior lineman Jerrell Edelen. Northern gained 58 yards on two carries to start the game and amassed 70 total yards -- two on passes -- the rest of the game.
On offense, the Wolverines got some big runs from Washington -- his first four went 32, 17, 27 and 23 yards -- and some hard-nosed running from Harris and Reed, who each scored first-half touchdowns to give the Wolverines a 14-10 lead at halftime.
Ten Westlake running backs had at least one rush of at least six yards.
"This team is packed with speed, that's for sure," Reed said.