At one point during the fourth quarter against Whitman on Friday night, Magruder senior quarterback Mitch Levine was flushed out of the pocket and back to his own 10-yard line. Before an oncoming rusher could so much as get a hand on him, though, Levine set his feet, threw across his body and hit receiver Tony Jackson at midfield for an 80-yard touchdown strike that caught his own coach by surprise.
"I didn't know he had that strong of an arm," Magruder Coach Doug Miller said. "But when you uncork the ball the width of the football field, that's saying something."
That arm, as it turns out, is a major reason why the Colonels have an outside shot at the playoffs after stumbling out of the gate. Levine suffered a high ankle sprain against Quince Orchard and the offense struggled during his three-game absence. But since his return, Magruder (5-3) is 4-1, a span in which Levine has thrown for 13 touchdowns and run for another.
The culmination came in a 40-28 win over Whitman on Friday night, as Levine completed 18 of 27 passes for 365 yards and a touchdown. Levine's performance epitomized the type of offense Miller envisioned when he took over this season. Levine hit four different receivers, hooking up with Jackson seven times for 153 yards and two scores.
"When he threw that first pass it was a simple out pattern," Miller said. "He completed it and then he just started zipping and zinging the ball The line didn't give up one sack. I think it's all coming together."
Recent history suggested that a 2-2 start should have been nothing more than a minor hurdle for Richard Montgomery in its quest for a postseason berth. After all, the Rockets opened last season 1-3 before winning the remainder of their regular season games and reaching the playoffs.
Now it looks like a similar feat is attainable if the Rockets can close with wins over Springbrook and Northwest. After splitting its first four games, Richard Montgomery (6-2) has won four in a row and holds the last spot in the highly competitive 4A West playoff standings.
The Rockets have turned it around behind a defense that has allowed only 22 points during the four-game winning streak and a running back who has filled the enormous void left by his predecessor.
Replacing graduated running back Steven Weedon, who ran for 1,769 yards last season, figured to be a tough task for the Rockets this season. But senior Kevon Calhoun has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of his last three games, including a career-high 202 yards in a 42-8 win over Blake on Friday.
"I'm telling you, it is a complete 180 with this team" Coach Mike Bonavia said. "After the first four games, we were making a lot of mistakes and just not being a total unit. Right now I think we've overcome all that."
Streaks and Such
Poolesville's 26-game regular season winning streak came to an end on Friday in a 56-14 loss to Beall.
During the run, which began in 2003, the Falcons were 28-2 overall, outscored their opponents 866-258 and reached the Maryland 1A South Region semifinals in consecutive seasons -- losing twice to Dunbar (Balt.).
The Falcons (6-1) are on pace again to reach the playoffs, entering this week's game against Einstein in first place in the 1A South. . . .
Good Counsel Coach Bob Milloy earned his 300th career victory in the Falcons' 38-7 win over Paul VI Catholic on Friday. Milloy improved to 37-13 in four seasons at Good Counsel and boasts a 300-96-1 career record. Milloy won eight Maryland state titles in 31 years, mostly at Sherwood and Springbrook.
Special correspondent Josh Leventhal contributed to this report.