The first real indication that things were changing at Bethesda-Chevy Chase came Sept. 16 against Watkins Mill. Cruising to a 34-6 first-half lead, the Barons surrendered 26 unanswered points in what Coach John Zehner called an "anything-can-go-wrong stretch."
Rather than wilting, the Barons reestablished their running game and came up with two late red-zone stops to hold on for a 34-32 victory.
"Last year that's a game we wouldn't have won," senior fullback Taylor Dlouhy said. "We were never able to face adversity. We'd always get down on ourselves and not be able to bounce back."
The Barons won a combined 15 games over the past five seasons, failing to reach .500 in each of them. But after a 42-0 win over Kennedy on Friday night, they are 3-0 for the first time since 1995, when the team finished the regular season undefeated.
As has long been the case for the Barons, they are small -- their biggest starter is listed at 220 pounds -- yet they are averaging 36 points per game. So, taking the cue from shifty senior running back Coffi Amozzou -- who has rushed for 357 yards and seven touchdowns on 46 carries -- they're doing it by running past opponents, rather than right over them. Amozzou is listed only at 5 feet 8, 175 pounds.
Teams are now playing catch-up with the Barons, who are presenting an assortment of looks on the field every game. Quarterback Yonathon Gobezzai has split time at quarterback with Brandon Flashey, while rotating in at wide receiver. Andy Morais has lined up wide and in the backfield, and seven players have scored this season.
"It's the teamwork idea," Zehner said. "Everyone has accepted that, 'This is my role.' There may be many roles one night and no role on another night.
"But as long as we keep progressing it's okay."
Zehner cautioned that his team isn't looking any further than its game against Wheaton on Friday, but the schedule does set up favorably for the Barons. Of Bethesda-Chevy Chase's remaining opponents, only one -- No. 12 Seneca Valley -- reached the playoffs last season.
"We're starting to increase our expectations," Zehner said. "The guys like the sense of winning. They'd like to keep it going and know what it takes to keep it going."