When Hylton Coach Lou Sorrentino addressed his players at halftime yesterday of a scoreless home game against ninth-ranked Gar-Field, he did not rant and rave about his offense picking up just two first downs, nor did he complain about his defense lining up wrong and nearly allowing a 27-yard touchdown run on fourth down just before the break.
Instead, Sorrentino simply smiled at his players and remarked about the challenge they faced in the second half. The fourth-ranked Bulldogs, thanks to a bit of trickery that set up a field goal and a blocked punt that set up a touchdown, went out and validated their coach's grin with a 10-0 home victory that locked up the Virginia AAA Cardinal District championship.
"When things are tight, that's when I want them to be the coolest," said Sorrentino, who successfully used the same smile-to-rile philosophy last season when his Culpeper team trailed Potomac (Va.) at halftime in an eventual Northwestern Region Division 5 championship triumph. "I told them I came here because these are the types of games I want to be in. This is fun."
The enjoyment heightened on the first series of the second half, when junior James Parker connected with senior Jerome Quinata on a 45-yard pass that set up a 28-yard field goal by senior kicker John Coletta.
Later in the half, Hylton junior Deon Butler blocked a punt to give his team possession at the Gar-Field 27.
Hylton senior quarterback Jeff Overton, seemingly hung up on a third-down run inside the 10, kept wriggling and poked through the Indians' defense for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
"The kid just wanted to get in the end zone, in my mind, more than our kids wanted to stop him," Gar-Field Coach Jim Poythress said.
Butler later intercepted a pass to help secure the win and limit Gar-Field to two first downs after halftime. The Bulldogs have won nine straight in the series.
Five in a Row for Friendly
Two games into the season, no one could have expected that by November Friendly would have developed one of the best defenses in the area. But that is just what the Patriots have done.
After surrendering 69 points in its first two games, both losses, Friendly has rebounded in a big way. Yesterday's 42-0 victory at Fairmont Heights in a Prince George's County 3A/2A/1A game was its fifth straight win.
The defense, which struggled so much early on, has been the backbone of the Patriots' success, recording shutouts in four of the five victories and yielding only six points in the other game, a 13-6 win against Potomac (Md.) on Oct. 5.
"We started out real slow," Friendly assistant coach Marcus Berry said. "We didn't have our defensive backfield in order. Since we got that solidified, nobody's been able to do anything on us."
Cole Too Fast for Howard
Not many defensive linemen can boast the same speed as Oakland Mills junior Anthony Cole. Then again, not many defensive linemen have also won a state championship in the 100 meters.
Cole put his blinding speed to good use yesterday, collecting four sacks, two fumble recoveries and a blocked punt in helping the Scorpions to a 28-12 victory over visiting Howard in a Howard County game.
"I tried out to be a wide receiver when I was a freshman," said Cole, who has been clocked at 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash and won a Maryland 1A 100-meter championship in 11.23 seconds in May. "I was faster than everyone, but my coordination wasn't very good, and I didn't really know the game."
While Cole was wreaking havoc in Howard's backfield, senior Dennis Lange did most of the damage on offense. Lange ran for a career-high 197 yards on 16 carries, and scored three touchdowns for Oakland Mills (7-2).
Staff writer Todd Jacobson, and special correspondents Jake Schaller and Tom Kenny contributed to this report.