The Arundel offense that defeated Broadneck on Friday night looked a lot different from the one that fell to Old Mill in the season opener, a sign that the Wildcats may be getting more comfortable -- and more dangerous -- with their new quarterback.
Arundel racked up 415 total yards en route to a 34-13 win. It was the team's first victory against Broadneck in its five years under Coach Chuck Markiewicz.
Senior quarterback Kyle Sumpter is a transfer from South River, where he led a run-oriented I-formation offense last season. He's under a new system this season, lining up in a spread formation and commanding his offense with no huddle. The fast-paced style forced Broadneck's defense to think on its feet and Sumpter to stay alert. He seemed to stay cool and executed the offense with few flaws, rushing for 98 yards and two touchdowns and throwing for 198 yards. Sumpter also added two throwing touchdowns on shovel passes to Brandon Johnson-Farrell and Keonta Wallace.
"Offensively, Arundel played extraordinarily well," Broadneck Coach Jim Herrick said. "Arundel's offense executed better than I've seen them in a long time."
Markiewicz said it usually takes quarterbacks -- even returning ones -- three weeks to get used to the responsibility heaped on them in Arundel's pass-happy offense.
"I've always had confidence he can do a great job," Markiewicz said of Sumpter.
Markiewicz said he was disappointed that his team didn't play with more mental toughness in its first game, a 41-14 loss to still-undefeated Old Mill. He was encouraged, though, when the offense scored 33 unanswered points to beat Chesapeake, 33-7, in the second game. But the matchup against traditional county powerhouse Broadneck had higher stakes.
"He has to make a decision on every play and has to make it in under 17 seconds," Markiewicz said of Sumpter's work on the line of scrimmage, where adjustments are made in response to the defense. "He has to do things he hasn't done. After three games . . . he's matured. We're fortunate that we've come away with two wins. I knew [we were] going to struggle early; that's the cost of running this offense."
Sumpter said it took a little getting used to, but he feels comfortable inside the offense, which has been altered to suit his speed and running ability.
"I wouldn't say I'm feeling pressure," Sumpter said. "I just go out there and play football and try to have fun. It's always shaky in the beginning, but after that it's all right."
The week before the matchup, Sumpter said, there was talk of Broadneck's past dominance over Arundel; at one point, Broadneck beat Arundel, 17-14, in three straight games. He said winning the Broadneck game was just like winning any other game, but his coach and others think it could mean more.
The Wildcats "might have lost their inferiority complex," Markiewicz said, and they also may now have a target on their backs: "The higher you climb, the more you expose [yourself]."
If Arundel's defense continues to play the way it played against Broadneck, it might not matter how exposed the Wildcats are. Arundel surrendered 243 yards of offense to Broadneck, but only 78 yards in the second half, when Broadneck was held scoreless.
The key defensive play may have come in the first half, however, when a fumble recovered by linebacker Jamal Green on the Broadneck 18-yard line put the Wildcats in position to go up 20-13. They did, and it allowed them to stick with a plan to run the ball -- and the clock -- in the second half.
Helping the defense was the return from ineligibility of two key starting defenders: linemen Paul Robinson and Dominique Moore.
"Moore is just a run stopper," said senior linebacker and captain Brandon Gonzalez, who had six tackles and one interception. "He clogged up holes for [Broadneck running back] Brandon Johnson and put pressure on the quarterback and forced him to make throws that weren't accurate."
Johnson, who rushed for more than 1,500 yards last season, acknowledged the work of the Wildcats' linebacking corps, who seemed to fly to the ball whenever he had possession. Johnson, who hadn't seen full action in the previous two games due to an injury, said he was healthy for the game, but he was held to 61 yards on 18 carries.
Tomorrow Arundel takes on Southern, a team Markiewicz is always wary of.
In 2003, Arundel lost an overtime game at Southern, 36-34.
"I hate it down there," Markiewicz said. "It's like sticking your hand in a beehive and hoping not to get stung. How often does that happen?"