It could have been a dreadful season opener for Gwynn Park yesterday afternoon against Leonardtown, as penalties and turnovers kept negating Yellow Jackets drives.
But despite a lack of execution, Gwynn Park's massive size enabled them to bully Leonardtown and perservere, 12-2, at home.
"We made some mental mistakes, but by midseason we should have them corrected," said senior lineman Marc Papay. "We are almost twice as big as we've been in the past and we're all ready to play."
When Gwynn Park's coaches and players review film of the game, watching the clipping and holding penalties and a bad snap on fourth down that skidded out of bounds in the end zone for the Raiders' only points likely won't bring many smiles.
However, it may be a little pleasing reliving the dominating performance of the Yellow Jackets' defense, which limited Leonardtown to 71 yards. Craig Schwier led the effort with eight unassisted tackles, followed by senior linemen Des Juan Hinton (seven unassisted, two assisted) and Brian Jackson (six unassisted, two assisted) and sophomore Jason Stokes (five assisted, two unassisted).
The Raiders made Gwynn Park's defense look even better with what appeared to be timid play.
"They were scared to go up the middle against us because they know that our defense is raw," said Stokes. "Our offense is coming along real good. We made a few mental mistakes, but our line is coming along and I think that we are really going to have a good year."
Everything Gwynn Park did in the first half seemed to work, as it took a 12-0 lead after Fred Johnson scampered for a 15-yard touchdown run and Schwier a seven-yarder.
Schwier was the Raiders' key offensive weapon, gaining 87 yards on 11 carries before leaving late in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle.
"There were a lot of openings for me to run through," he said. "People are going to have to watch out for us this year, and that's all I need to say."