Potomac Coach Eric Knight was still shaking his head a few days after his team's first loss in 22 months. The Wolverines lost to Friendly, 6-0, in a game played in sloppy conditions amid torrential downpours Friday.
The Wolverines fumbled 10 times in the first half, losing eight, Knight said. And that does not include the game's key play. With the team lined up in punt formation in the final minute of the first half of a scoreless game, the ball got stuck in the mud as Potomac's long snapper tried to send it back to the punter.
"The ball was no longer in his hands. It was on the ground, and he dove on it," Knight said.
Two plays later, Friendly quarterback Joe Haden threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Michael Wright, and that was enough for the Patriots to hold on in the treacherous conditions.
"It was a lake," Knight said. "Instead of quicksand, it was quick mud. But the conditions were the same for both teams. I figure football is played in all kinds of weather. The first time I've ever heard of any cancellation of football games was in recent years."
Although county teams played three games as scheduled Friday, with fields deteriorating into soupy mud, Prince George's County supervisor of athletics Earl Hawkins postponed all of Saturday's games until Monday because of concerns about player safety and poor field conditions.
The story of the weekend was the weather -- even for teams that postponed games until Monday, when conditions seemed much improved. Coaches had to reconfigure their planning schedules because with games on Monday, there would be little time to prepare for the next game. Most used the time off to scheme for the following game, including Douglass Coach J.C. Pinkney, whose team plays Eleanor Roosevelt on Saturday in a game for the Prince George's 4A lead.
"We've already broken down two games of theirs," Pinkney said Sunday. "We have the playlist. We'll have that ready for Tuesday's practice. We've done quite a bit of stuff on them. I'm pretty sure they've done the same for us."
When it comes to getting ready for this week's games, Pinkney has one advantage over most coaches: His father, Ron, was an assistant at Eleanor Roosevelt until moving to Douglass this season as the Eagles joined the Prince George's 4A league.
"Not just Roosevelt, it helps with the other 4A schools, too," Pinkney said. "He's resourceful from that standpoint."
Bowie Regaining Swagger
The most difficult part of the schedule remains, and no one is about to proclaim that Bowie is back. Following some lean seasons after winning the Maryland 4A title in 2001, however, the Bulldogs (4-1, 3-1 Prince George's 4A) are regaining their swagger -- an important component, according to first-year coach Jae Jackson.
Jason Randall and Adrian Arthur each scored two touchdowns in Bowie's 38-0 victory over Parkdale on Friday as the Bulldogs won their fourth consecutive game, their longest stretch since the 2001 season. And with coming games against Bladensburg (0-5) and Laurel (1-4), 6-1 is a very good possibility for the team, which has had 11 different players score touchdowns this season.
Of course, Jackson is aware that the season's final three games could be its hardest, with games against Douglass, Eleanor Roosevelt and Suitland. Those teams are a combined 13-2 and likely participants in the Maryland 4A South Region playoffs -- unless Bowie can pull an upset.
"We're taking it one game at a time, but we want to go into the rough part of our season 6-1 and with a lot of momentum and confidence," Jackson said. "I know the players have a lot of confidence right now. They want to get to the playoffs. That's the big thing. And I know 6-4 won't do it. We've got to upset one of those last three teams."
Defense Keys Win
Much is made of Gwynn Park's talented skill players, with wide receiver Quintin McCree and physical running back William Little leading a team averaging 29 points per game under first-year offensive coordinator Leslie Shepherd, the former NFL wide receiver. But it is a tough defense that has keyed the Yellow Jackets' 5-0 start, including their 27-7 victory over Suitland on Monday.
With defensive tackle Phillip Taylor helping control the line of scrimmage and a linebacking unit led by Maryland recruit Adrian Moten, Gwynn Park held Suitland to 29 yards of total offense. When needed, the Yellow Jackets came up with several key stops. It was only 14-0 when a bad snap on a punt gave Suitland the ball at the Gwynn Park 6-yard line. The Rams were turned away on four plays.
The Rams' only touchdown came on a kickoff return, making it 21-7, and then Suitland recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. The Yellow Jackets then held not once, but twice, when a personal foul penalty for roughing the quarterback after a fourth down incompletion gave the Rams a first down. That was one of Gwynn Park's 13 penalties for 119 yards, perhaps the only flaw in a strong performance.
"The coaches said we're good at the skill positions, but this was a battle in the trenches," Taylor said. "Coaches said to bust them in the mouth and we could control the line the whole game. That's what we did."