Football. Friends. Hot dogs. Cupcakes. More football.

It should have been a perfect fall Saturday for a bunch of 10- and 11-year-old boys in Germantown. But it wasn’t, and the stickers on their helmets said why:

“William McQuain. We U.”

Their buddy has now been missing for two weeks. As they all know, his mother was found killed inside the apartment the two shared.

“He probably got scared at what he saw and ran away,” said Latrele Palmer, who turns 11 in six days and says William won’t miss the birthday party. “He will be there.”

Detectives continued searching for William but still haven’t spoken to anyone who saw him after the Oct. 1 weekend, Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery County police spokesman, said Saturday.

Detectives do have leads to pursue and are operating on the hope William is alive, Starks said. He declined to be more specific, saying he didn’t want to jeopardize the search or endanger the child if he is still alive. “If someone out there has seen William or has information that can help us focus the search, we need to hear from them,” Starks said.

William’s mother, Jane McQuain, was found dead Wednesday, and police have charged her estranged husband, Curtis M. Lopez, in connection with her homicide. He remains held in North Carolina, where he was picked up Thursday.

The disappearance of William and the slaying of his mother have hit the Germantown Panthers football squad hard. The kids practice or play games three times a week, while their parents gather and visit on the sidelines. Jane McQuain was known as friendly and quick with compliments.

Watching her son George practice Saturday, Deborah Walker recalled learning about the case Thursday morning while watching the news. She saw a picture of William and screamed. George came in the room, worried that something had happened to her, and she had no choice but to tell him what happened. He broke down.

George and William met about 18 months ago, Walker said, and quickly bonded as the boys of single mothers who didn’t have brothers close to them in age. “They clicked so quick,” Walker said.

On Oct. 1, the squad had a game, and parents noticed that the McQuains weren’t there. One of them, Delicia Hill, called Jane McQuain’s cellphone and William answered, as he often did.

“William, did you know we have a game?” Hill remembers asking.

“I’m not coming today,” he said, speaking in his regular tone.

As the two continued not to show up at practices, Walker kept calling the cellphone. She got voice-mail. She assumed that the two had gone out of town, as they often did.

The parents have struggled with how much to tell their children. Some say they do not want to give their sons false hope. After Saturday’s practice, the parents and kids drove to a nearby park for hot dogs, hamburgers and dessert.

Sharee Hall spoke of how her son Trevon is trying to cope.

After she heard that Jane McQuain had been killed and William was missing, Hall had to decide whether to tell her son. She figured he’d hear about it soon enough and called to him.

“Tre’, you know William on your team?” she began. As she told him, his eyes teared up. These days, Hall said, her son still has his tough-little-guy persona and doesn’t like to talk about the case. But when it comes on the news, she has seen him cover his ears and walk out of the room.

On Friday night, they joined other families for a prayer vigil for William. Hall said that Trevon, teary-eyed, looked at her.

“Mommy, I’m afraid something is going to happen to you,” he said.

For those with information about William McQuain or this case, the number to call is 240-773-5070.