A genuine innocence emanates from Stone Bridge junior quarterback Terrence Glenn. It's a trait enhanced by his braces and a boyish grin that comes easily.
But that is Glenn's demeanor away from the football field. In the huddle, his teammates say, he shows maturity far beyond his 16 years and displays the same calm and confidence that were the hallmarks of Stone Bridge's previous standout quarterbacks.
"He's changed so much since the beginning of the year," said senior center Tyler Pearson. "At the beginning he was so quiet. Most of our offensive linemen were back from last year, and we're a pretty loud and joking group. So at first we kind of overshadowed him, I think, maybe even intimidated him a little.
"But the huddle is his now."
The change in Glenn came quickly -- over 3 minutes 18 seconds, to be precise. That's how long it took Glenn to lead the Bulldogs to back-to-back touchdowns against rival Loudoun Valley on Sept. 23 for a 17-14 victory. Glenn's winning touchdown pass to senior running back Shamar Knight-Justice came with 15 seconds remaining and averted what could have been the Bulldogs' first back-to-back losses since their inaugural season in 2000.
"After the Loudoun Valley game, that's when I knew I could make plays," Glenn said, "when I knew that I was going to be able to live up to the expectations of our program. Following quarterbacks like Michael O'Brien and Sean Ryan, I put a lot of pressure on myself. It was after that game that I got it; I was going to be okay."
Knight-Justice said Glenn didn't say a word to him in the huddle before that final play against the Vikings but that Glenn's eyes showed sheer determination.
"I had been telling the coaches that I was open on that play all game," Knight-Justice said. "They had a linebacker trying to guard me, and I was getting deep on him every time. I was ready for it before he ever snapped the ball . . . and he delivered. That one play really built up all of our confidence and helped us believe in ourselves."
The Bulldogs since have rattled off 10 consecutive victories and enter tomorrow's AAA Division 5 semifinal game with a chance to do something unique for Stone Bridge football: advance to a state championship game.
"That is the next step, and this team wants to be remembered for doing something all their own," Stone Bridge Coach Mickey Thompson said. "It's been one thing every year. One was the first team to make the playoffs, and then there was the first to win a district title and then a regional title and then the first team to go undefeated. So this is what's left."
If Stone Bridge is to get to the title game, Glenn will need to lead the team there. He is the Bulldogs' leading passer and rusher this season, having accounted for 2,007 yards and 24 touchdowns.
"He can make something out of nothing, just like the other two quarterbacks we have had," Thompson said. "Michael O'Brien could make plays running when he needed them. Sean Ryan could throw the ball and make something happen when he had to. Terrence can do both, so he's a little more of a threat to break the game open."
Glenn has been particularly effective in critical situations. He has led the Bulldogs to two overtime victories this season and three come-from-behind wins in the fourth quarter, including Stone Bridge's regional victories over Madison and Edison.
"I don't know if it's luck or if it's the football gods above our field," Glenn said, that ever-ready smile gleaming. "But there's something we have where we always seem to find a way to win. And it's my job to keep that going."