Nate Coates couldn't stand it anymore. Huntingtown was struggling to move the ball, and his team had just fallen behind Great Mills by a touchdown early in the second quarter. An injured ankle kept him on the bench in the opening quarter, but now the senior running back was pleading with his coaches to get into the game.
With a little more than three minutes left in the first half, the coaches relented, and Coates didn't disappoint. On his first touch, he bounced off right tackle and scampered 13 yards untouched into the end zone to tie the game. Coates went on to carry the ball 21 times for 124 yards and a career-high four touchdowns, leading Huntingtown to a 25-6 victory Thursday night at Great Mills for the first win in the school's history.
"I was in [Coach Jerry Franks's] ear the whole time [I was on the bench]," Coates said. "I was just like, when I get in there, I'm going to do my thing."
Coates's desire to play through pain is emblematic of the adversity the Hurricanes (1-2 overall, 1-2 SMAC) have had to overcome, including a rash of staph infections related to a fungus on their home field. The field problems have limited their ability to practice and have left in doubt which players would be able to suit up.
"We have some ability, and obviously we've been under some adverse conditions," Franks said. "It's a whole new team; everybody's coming from different schools, and you're trying to put them all together. We had to find out where they could fit into certain positions to help the team the most."
Huntingtown hindered its chances to take an early lead, losing fumbles to Great Mills (0-4, 0-4) on its first two possessions. The Hornets capitalized on their field position in the second quarter when running back Phil Hartzer bulled through the Hurricanes' defense for an eight-yard touchdown run. After a failed two-point conversion attempt, Great Mills led 6-0.
From that point, the Hurricanes dominated, running 41 more offensive plays than the Hornets.
After the Hornets' score, the Hurricanes went on a 10-play, 65-yard drive that melted nearly six minutes off the clock. On the opening drive of the second half, the Hurricanes marched 74 yards in 11 plays, culminating in another Coates touchdown. His final two scores also came at the end of 10-play drives.
The Hurricanes outrushed Great Mills 332 yards to 45. Quarterback Bobby Brown gained 79 yards on 11 carries, and running back Daniel Davidson added 72 yards on nine carries.
The dominating ground game is the type of offense Franks is looking for and what his players want to run.
"One thing about his offense is he knows how to use his players," Brown said about Franks, who coached at DeMatha for 10 years and was an offensive coordinator for Connecticut and Navy. "He knows I'm a little mobile, so he sends me on the corner and he gives me a run-pass option. If he knows where to put you, he will make you shine."