More than anything, Tony Lisanti was concerned about the lack of enthusiasm for Chopticon's football program when he became head coach after 17 years as a Braves assistant.

As he watched fans swarm his equally exuberant players following Chopticon's 27-24 overtime victory at Patuxent last Friday, it's safe to say the passion for football is back at the St. Mary's County school. The Braves are 3-0 for the first time that Lisanti can recall, and have already equaled their 2004 victory total.

It hasn't been easy.

Following a season-opening victory over McDonough, a playoff team a year ago, Chopticon rallied for a 28-27 win over Huntingtown, scoring a safety and a touchdown and blocking a field goal in the final five minutes.

Last Friday, Chopticon faced a 21-6 deficit midway through the fourth quarter, but Justin McVerry hit Ivan Cerkez on both a scoring pass and the subsequent two-point conversion. Then, with 20 seconds left, Darron Showalter scored from one yard out to send it into overtime. After a Patuxent field goal, McVerry found Robbie Thomas for the clinching touchdown.

"I'd like to be able to attribute this to something, but maybe it's just our kids working really hard," Lisanti said. "Our real challenge now is to play a good first half, so we don't have to come back."

-- Alan Goldenbach