Friendly struck for touchdowns on three straight possessions in the first half, then watched its defense paralyze potent Franklin as the Patriots rolled to a 27-7 victory to capture the Maryland Class A state football title yesterday at High point.
Friendly, state runner-up last year, won its second crown in fives under Coach Jim Crawford. The Prince George's County champion finished the season 11-1. Franklin, the Baltimore County titlist, ended 9-2.
"I didn't think we were going to make it this far this year," admitted Patriot Tom Frazier, who enjoyed an outstanding game at line-backer along with Louis Evans. "We lost all those seniors, we're not that big, I didn't think we had enough talent."
"They all said we were rebuilding this year," said defensive guard Bob Williams. "We were rebuilt after we won our first game."
Friendly triumphed with the same formula with which it lost only 21 games in nine years under Crawford: solid running behind an awesome offensive line and punishing defnese.
The Patriots gained 395 yards while Franklin, which was averaging 37 points per contest, was limited to 143 yards before it moved 93 yards for a meaningless touchdown with 48 seconds remaining.
Patriot workhorse George Wright carried 20 times for 124 yards and a touchdown and Leroy Bell added 117 yards on 12 carries, including a magnificent 81-yard gallop that started the scoring.
"It looks like we forced them out of their game plan," Crawford said. "We wanted them to run because we're strong against the run. But they passed an awful lot."
With 1,000-yard runner Tyrone Furman out with a broken arm, the Indians were unable to untrack their offense. Quarterback Steve Cochran threw 26 times, completing 12.
Friendly broke out on Bell's long scoring run with 2:20 left in the first quarter. Center Dennis Fetsko and Co. opened a sizable hole for Bell, who then shook off two tacklers in the secondary before finding clear ground for the final 65 yards.
On Franklin's ensuing series, Norman Horn fumbled and Friendly's John Ferraiuole recovered at the Indian 38. Eight plays later, quarterback Wayne Grigsby found Bernie Nauman wide open in the right corner of the end zone for an 11-yard score and 14-0 lead.
Friendly's defense then stopped Franklin without a first down on its next possession and watched the offense move 77 yards on 12 runs to turn the game into a rout three minutes before halftime. The finisher was Rob Culreath's 36-yard run on a slow-starting draw play.
The Patriots ran the count to 27-0 after taking the second-half kickoff. Wright bulled his way past the line of scrimmage and rambled 37 yards for the tally.
"You've got to have believers. We've got believers," Crawford said moments after his team and dozens of supporters stopped chanting "J.C., J.C." "It's not just me or my coaches. It's all these people. A state championship is a very satisfying thing."
"There was no doubt in my mind we were going to win," Williams said. "Our defense broke them down early and then they couldn't do anything. I guess Baltimore County hadn't run up against a defensive program like this before."