Huntingtown 35, Leonardtown 6
Barely three minutes remained in the fourth quarter when Huntingtown Coach Jerry Franks hollered words he hadn't had an opportunity to say all season.
"Get everyone in!" Franks yelled to assistant coach Jim Esposito.
Finally, near the end of a long, arduous season, the Hurricanes had secured a victory and could afford the luxury of emptying their bench. Sophomore running back Ronni Chase ran for career bests of 164 yards and three touchdowns as the Hurricanes emerged from a match-up of winless teams Friday night with a 35-6 victory over visiting Leonardtown.
For Franks, in his 35th year of coaching at the collegiate and high school levels, there have been similar seasons marked by youth and losses. So more than anything, the former Navy assistant coach and longtime DeMatha coach was just happy for his players.
"It's been a long year," said Franks, who took over the program last season in the school's inaugural year. "We knew we'd be doing some rebuilding, but we thought we'd be more competitive. . . . It's good for the kids to get a win."
Huntingtown (1-8) had a surprising 5-5 record last season -- surprising because there was no phasing in of the varsity program. The Hurricanes held their own in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference from the jump. But only nine seniors returned this fall, leaving the team with a lack of experience that showed not only in the Hurricanes' record, but also on their roster, which includes just nine players at more than 200 pounds.
Chase, a 150-pound halfback who said he had scored two, maybe three, touchdowns all year before Friday, reached the end zone on runs of 4, 11 and 48 yards, as Huntingtown dominated for all but 18 seconds.
Senior John Barr gave Leonardtown (0-9) the lead with a 70-yard touchdown sprint on the first play from scrimmage, but that proved to be the evening's lone Raiders highlight.
Chase and fullback David Bowen (55 yards, one touchdown) churned out first down after first down for Huntingtown, which had been shut out three times and had scored in double digits only once previously.
"I'm going to come back [in the next two years] and see Ronni chugging along," senior Leonardtown quarterback Alan Clark said.
"We're starting to get it going, we're just young," Chase said.
By midway through the third period, Huntingtown had taken a commanding 21-6 lead on run-powered drives of nine, 10 and 11 plays. A quarter later, Franks was imploring Esposito to get all the reserves into the game.
"Coach, they're all in," Esposito said, smiling. "I don't know who else to put in."
Sophomore T.J. Ricchiuto punctuated the win by sprinting 30 yards for a score with two minutes remaining.
"It's good for those kids to get in. They practice just as hard as anyone else," Franks said.
Leonardtown Coach Alan Raley declined to comment after the game. His team closes the season next week at La Plata. Huntingtown faces Calvert -- the school Franks led to a Class 3A state title in 2000.
Leonardtown's Lucas Hammett with his father, Dick Hammett. The Raiders are now 0-9.
Huntingtown Coach Jerry Franks congratulates Sean Brooks, whose interception late in the game helped seal the win.