In recent football seasons, Osbourn players have seen surrounding schools Osbourn Park, Stonewall Jackson and Manassas Park advance to region championships or beyond. Meantime, all the Eagles could do was continue to work and wonder when their time would come.
That time might be now, as evidenced by a validating 31-28 nondistrict home win last night over Potomac (Va.) that pushed Osbourn to 3-0 and further sweetens the program's best start to a season in more than two decades.
It was not only the victory over the previously unbeaten Panthers (2-1), it was the manner in which it came: Potomac rattled off a 14-play, seven-minute touchdown drive to start the game, and then went up 14-0 just more than a minute later when junior linebacker Zack Simmons returned a fumble 17 yards for a score.
"I was just telling our kids [that] a couple of years ago in the program 14-0 would be a tough battle to come back, and that's what I'm really truly proud of our team [for]," said fourth-year Osbourn Coach Steve Schultze, whose team three seasons ago withstood a 32-game losing streak. "We got down early and we had some hiccups and we just continued to have faith in our offense and be patient and make plays."
"We felt we'd already taken their best punch," Osbourn senior receiver Justin Turner said.
Osbourn appeared to dig out of the hole quickly, as junior Brandon Hogan returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for an apparent touchdown, only to have the runback negated by a penalty. Even so, the Eagles regrouped to score on the possession on a 13-yard Hogan keeper to launch a string of 24 unanswered first-half points. That run included a 38-yard field goal by junior Mike Blewett, a one-yard Hogan score after Potomac botched a punt snap, and a Hogan touchdown pass to senior Julian Hooks.
"We've known all along, we've just had a feeling, like this is our year," said Turner, who caught three passes for 91 yards. "But this [win] has to prove it to the outsiders. There's been a lot of people, even around our community and our school, that have been doubting us, but I don't know how they can doubt us any more."
Potomac, which split games with Osbourn last season en route to reaching the playoffs, is using its third-string quarterback because of an injury and suspension, and primary offensive threat Deante Steele, a junior running back-wide receiver, has been playing mostly defense in part because of injury.
The Panthers, who rushed for 193 yards, had attempted only two passes in the game until their final possession, when senior Anthony Arellano completed seven throws, including a 29-yard touchdown pass to senior Ronnie Norman with 1 minute 30 seconds left. Osbourn recovered the ensuing onsides kick and ran out the clock.
"Beating Potomac tells me that our team is really good," Hogan said. "I think we were good already, but this makes us even better."