Here's how much faith Patuxent has in senior Robert McClain: The Panthers would actually risk losing significant yardage if it meant giving them a chance to put the ball in their star player's hands.
With just less than three minutes to go in the fourth quarter of Friday's 51-33 loss at McDonough, McClain dropped back to return a kickoff. Given that he had already burned McDonough for an 84-yard touchdown on a previous kickoff, the Rams weren't going to kick anywhere near McClain. So they bounced a kick across the field toward the right side, where junior Josh Johns was waiting.
Johns turned around and began running backward toward McClain. He ran about 15 yards before the two met, and he handed the ball off to McClain, who gained back eight of the yards en route to the Patuxent 35-yard line.
"I told our [kickoff] team, 'Just get it to me. I don't care how you do it,' " McClain said.
None of the Panthers would have been crazy enough to disobey. McClain had another star-making performance, but this time, it was on the same field as one of the nation's top recruits -- McDonough's A.J. Wallace.
McClain showcased his spectacular versatility by scoring four touchdowns in nearly as many ways, and totaled 308 all-purpose yards, his fifth consecutive game over the 300-yard mark. Wallace, meantime, was every bit as impressive -- rushing for 347 yards and four touchdowns on 31 carries.
"It got me fired up," McClain said about playing against Wallace. "I wanted to show any other colleges that might have been here that I'm just as good as him."
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound McClain has only received scholarship offers from Kent and Towson so far, but once college coaches get their hands on Friday's game film, McClain's phone might be ringing a little more often.
"Whoever's not looking at him is foolish," McDonough Coach Dave Bradshaw said. "We tried everything we could to keep the ball away from him."
On Patuxent's first play from scrimmage, McClain ran 59 yards for a touchdown, and he was just getting warmed up. After McDonough went ahead 20-7 with five minutes left in the first half, McClain returned the kickoff for a touchdown -- his fifth kickoff return for a score this season. If you include his 90-yard punt return for a touchdown against Leonardtown, McClain has instantly turned a kick into six points in five consecutive games.
Thirty-one seconds before halftime, Patuxent quarterback Adam Colvin threw a short swing pass to the left that McClain danced with for a few yards before cutting toward the middle of the field and breaking through the Rams' secondary for a 31-yard touchdown.
And for good measure, McClain showed he is a deep threat, catching a perfect pass in stride on the opening drive of the second half for a 62-yard scoring pass.
"I think he definitely showed he's one of the better players in the league," Panthers Coach Steve Crounse said. "I don't want to see Robert go" after this season.