This time last year, Riverdale Baptist Coach Tony Bell was coaching middle school football in Texas, searching for a varsity coaching job. The Potomac (Md.) graduate didn't have much reason to believe his search would lead him back home to first-year program Riverdale Baptist.
Last night, the Crusaders held off a Spingarn second-half rally to pull out a 28-20 victory over the visiting Green Wave at White Marsh Park in Bowie.
"It's nice to come back home, but it's frustrating because we're not where I want us to be yet," said Bell, whose team improved to 2-3. "But I know after a game like this it's hard not to feel good. . . . It's great being home. I never thought I'd be back. Now I get to see my family every day."
Riverdale senior Mark Sosa drove up the middle with four minutes remaining for a one-yard touchdown run to put the Crusaders up 26-20. Sophomore quarterback Marcus Thomas then rolled right and found senior Lesley Wills for the two-point conversion and an eight-point lead.
Spingarn (0-5) took the ball over at its own 20 and began to march down the field behind the running of senior Ibrahim Thompson (198 yards rushing on 15 carries, two touchdowns). Spingarn got the ball to Riverdale's 32 with under two minutes remaining, but couldn't move the chains after three straight Thompson carries and an incomplete pass on fourth down.
"[The win] feels great," said Riverdale junior running back Haleem White, who carried 12 times for 62 yards. "We had a few mental breakdowns in the second half, but all that will change as the season goes on."
The Crusaders had 45 players come out for its varsity season and have pieced together a team of varied experience with only five seniors. One of the team's unmistakable figures is 6-foot-3, 360-pound senior lineman Andre Butler, playing his first year of organized football.
Thomas finished the night a perfect 4 for 4, with 57 yards passing and a touchdown.