Football teams spend the week working on strategy and building to a crescendo of intensity, Northwest Coach Randy Trivers said. But when severe thunderstorms rolled through the Washington area last Friday, many teams in Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties were forced to adjust when their games were suspended.
For second-ranked Damascus, that meant a late-night coaching staff meeting to think of ways to score from their 36-yard line in eight seconds. An unusual pass play in which an offensive tackle lined up bunched among wide receivers resulted in a 30-yard gain, but the Swarmin' Hornets were unable to score and needed two overtimes to beat Richard Montgomery, 13-7.
"If I was in a Damascus-RM position, I would have done the same thing," said Churchill Coach Jamie Collins, whose team's Friday game against Wootton was suspended much earlier -- midway through the first quarter of an eventual 33-7 Churchill victory. "I would have gone home and watched the film 10 times. I wouldn't have slept that night."
While Damascus put extra effort into its game plan, fifth-ranked Northwest emphasized mental preparation. Trivers felt that his team was on the verge of taking control when play was stopped Friday with his team driving midway through the second quarter and leading Paint Branch, 7-0.
"We felt like we had them on the ropes," Trivers said. "Then the bell rang, you could say. We wanted to get them right back on the ropes."
Northwest set a goal of scoring in its first four plays when the game resumed -- and it did, on an 11-yard run by Tony Nelson. Shortly thereafter, Nelson scored again to give Northwest a 21-0 lead en route to a 42-6 victory.
"It felt like I was coaching baseball or softball or basketball playing in a weekend tournament," Trivers said of playing games on back-to-back days. "You just don't do that often in football."
Waiting for the ball to be snapped, Linganore running back Matt Castor has one thing on his mind when he knows he is getting the ball.
"I always feel like I'm going to score," Castor said.
Usually, Castor settles for a sizable gain or a first down. Last Saturday, however, Castor seemed like Midas. The senior carried the ball 16 times and scored seven touchdowns -- one short of a Maryland single-game record -- in a 53-7 victory over South Carroll.
"I knew I could score on any play that game," Castor said. "The offensive line opened up awesome holes all night long."
Castor scored on runs of 10, 11, 20, 26, 39 and 66 yards in the first half, and went 80 yards untouched on the first play of the second half to finish the night with 305 yards rushing.
"I've been doing this for a long time, and I haven't seen many kids play like he plays," Linganore Coach Rick Conner said, adding that he hopes Castor's performance will attract more interest from college recruiters. "Wherever he goes, he is going to play. Maybe it's a small [Division] I-A or a I-AA in the mid-Atlantic. He's going to help somebody keep their job. He's that good. You win with guys like Matt Castor."
Thomas Jefferson Wins
With clutch performances from Bobby Humphries and T.J. Thompson, Thomas Johnson ended a two-year losing streak with a 21-20 win over Gaithersburg on Saturday night.
The Patriots (1-2) stopped Gaithersburg from taking the lead late in the fourth quarter when Humphries made a tackle on a two-point conversion try. They stopped the Trojans' final drive inside the Thomas Johnson 20 when Humphries made a sack and Thompson made an interception.
Thomas Johnson went 0-9 last year and scored only 51 points. The Patriots lost their first two games this year, against Aberdeen and Stone Bridge, by a margin of 67-6.
"The team has gotten better, and they're working hard, but we're not out of the woods yet," Patriots Coach Ben Wright said. We've still got a ways to go."
Meantime, Gaithersburg lost its second one-point game of the year and dropped to 0-3 for the first time in at least 45 years.
Einstein Snaps Streak
After two good showings -- but losses nonetheless -- Einstein snapped an eight-game losing streak Saturday with a 28-0 victory over Kennedy. Junior Delonte Gordon rushed for 225 yards and three touchdowns for the Titans, who had opened with losses to Seneca Valley (23-6) and Poolesville (17-7). Those teams had outscored the Titans by a combined 88-2 in 2003.
"Things are looking better," said Einstein Coach John Mangrum. "We were finally able to close the door on someone. I definitely feel like we're on the upswing." . . .
Northern has named Clarence Tennell its boys' basketball coach, replacing Rick Weber, who left after 13 seasons to start the program at Huntingtown. Tennell coached the Patriots' girls' varsity to a 31-39 mark the past three seasons.
Staff writer Alan Goldenbach and special correspondent Jake Schaller contributed to this report