Coaches often say their goal is that in every game their team should learn a lesson -- big or small -- that will help it become stronger.
If Arundel didn't know before Saturday that it would be possible -- and sometimes necessary -- to win without a strong offensive performance, it should know now.
Arundel's offense, which is led by senior quarterback Kyle Sumpter, was not at its best on Saturday when the team defeated South River, 30-10.
Though the Wildcats managed 30 points, they compiled just 147 yards of offense and six first downs in the game. Four of their five scoring drives started at or inside the South River 35-yard line. Their longest drive of the day was a 41-yard effort that started at the 50 and resulted in a 26-yard field goal. Arundel was forced to punt six times, threw one interception and fumbled three times.
The offense was limited in part because Sumpter was playing with a bruised right shin. His inability to plant his back leg while throwing forced many throws high and also marred his ability to run. Coach Chuck Markiewicz said after the game that Sumpter was playing at about 70 percent. For a team that has gotten 63 percent of its offense through Sumpter, it was a big deal.
"He's our featured back," Markiewicz said of Sumpter, who is in his first year of commanding the spread offense at Arundel after transferring from South River. "As Kyle goes, so goes the team."
That says a lot for Sumpter, because the Wildcats are headed to the playoffs with home field advantage in the first round. Arundel will host Thomas Stone on Saturday at 1 p.m.
It will be Sumpter's first trip to the playoffs since recreation league football, but the quarterback -- who is 106-of-199 passing (53 percent) for 1,236 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions and has 699 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing on 116 carries this season -- said he's not feeling any pressure.
"Nothing at all. I'm just going in there like it's a regular game," Sumpter said.
Markiewicz predicts Sumpter will be fully healthy come game time, something that's not necessarily good news for opponents.
"He can throw and he can run," Old Mill wide receiver Steve Holmes said of Sumpter. "He's dangerous when the ball's in his hands, I'll give him that."