What if . . . Potomac could have taken better advantage of good field position?
The Panthers did it once, after a 23-yard North Stafford punt that went out of bounds at the Wolverines' 31-yard line led to an 11-yard touchdown by Vaughn Walker. That score gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead and the confidence to get even more against the area's 10th-ranked team, which had trailed but one other time all season.
The Panthers (6-5) never had terribly far to go: Three times they took possession in North Stafford territory, and three more times the Panthers drove the ball across midfield and into Wolverines' territory. On one of those possessions, the game's opening drive, Potomac fumbled at the North Stafford 8-yard line. A second-quarter drive ended in a missed field goal attempt that could have pushed the lead to 10-0.
"That hurt when we didn't get it in down there," said Potomac Coach Ben Stutler, whose team ended the season with three straight losses. "I thought we were able to bring the ball down there and move the ball. We didn't really cash in. You can't squander opportunities in playoff games, because good teams are going to take advantage of that."
The Wolverines (11-0) certainly did, turning time and again to 220-pound fullback Mark Kratzer. The senior broke a 50-yard run on the first North Stafford play following the missed field goal and, with the game tied at 7, got loose for 40 yards on a fourth-and-two play from the Wolverines' 37 that set up the winning score.
"They did exactly what I was fearful of," Stutler said of Kratzer's 171-yard effort. "I saw it raining today, and I knew if I was coaching them that I would just get in there . . . and run those big backs at us. They didn't do it at the beginning and I was kind of relieved. They ended up going to it and we just didn't have an answer to it."
-- ASHTON WILLIAMS