“After the win, it seemed like they’d been there before because they trained their body to be there before,” Driver said. “They always believed they could win that game.”
Driver saw improvement in his team’s performance at the end of last season, and he said his players embraced offseason workouts. Kennedy (1-0) fell behind Northwood 12-7 on Friday, but Driver credited his team’s defense with setting up the program’s first victory in 721 days.
“We really have a mind-set of winners now,” Driver said.
⇒ Player of the week from Maryland: Calvin House, QB, Meade. To begin his sophomore season, House threw for 283 yards and four touchdowns in the Mustangs’ 28-20 win over Annapolis.
⇒ Game to watch in Maryland: Damascus at Quince Orchard, Friday, 6:30 p.m.
⇒ Big number: 47. For the first time in 47 years, Walter Johnson beat Churchill on Friday.
Spalding still cruising after trip to Orlando
His team has not yet been tested on the field, but Spalding Coach Kyle Schmitt can’t help but wonder whether this group can reach the next level. The Cavaliers sailed through what could have been a daunting trip to play Bishop Moore in Orlando.
“We had every excuse to play poorly last night, from travel to heat to the uncertainty with Hurricane Dorian during the week,” Schmitt said Saturday. “We had every excuse, and we didn’t give in to that.”
Spalding aced the test, flying to Orlando on Thursday and racing to a 56-14 win Friday. That and a 56-0 rout of Bishop McDevitt (Pa.) the week before have made Schmitt think this group is the fastest of the seven teams he has coached. Depth in the secondary and on the offensive line will also help going into matchups against Bullis and Good Counsel.
“We’re suffocating people a little bit early in games,” Schmitt said, “and that’s big for us.”
⇒ Player of the week for private schools: Caleb Williams, QB, Gonzaga. To earn what may be the first of a few appearances here, the junior produced all five of the team’s touchdowns (three passing, two rushing) in a 35-21 comeback win at Don Bosco Prep (N.J.).
⇒ Game to watch for private schools: Georgetown Prep at Gonzaga, Saturday, 2 p.m.
Manassas Park’s varsity team returns
Friday night was more than just a home opener for Manassas Park. The school decided not to field a varsity program last fall because of low participation and safety concerns. Friday’s game, a 43-14 loss to Maret, meant that the Cougars had completed the rebuild. They have just 41 players and no junior varsity program, but they have a varsity team again.
A JV program was all they had last year as a mix of young and old players joined to go undefeated against a makeshift schedule. For Cougars Coach Mike Kelly, the important thing was that the school was still playing football and still working to grow a program.
“The day after we made the decision to cancel the varsity team, I brought the kids in, and the first thing I asked them was, ‘Why are you here?’ ” he said. “ ‘You’re here to play football. And we’re going to play football. And that’s how we’re going to view it.’ ”
Manassas Park High sits right next to Manassas Park Middle, and last season it instituted a middle school football program in hopes of creating a pipeline. There were 19 eighth-graders on last year’s middle school team, most of whom dressed for the Cougars on Friday.
“We are very unique in that every kid from the middle school goes to the high school,” Kelly said. “Nobody’s going to go to another school unless they transfer or go to a private school. So just being able to grab kids at that level or get the interest at that level and then move them up is key.”
⇒ Player of the week in Virginia: Quest Powell, QB, Freedom-Woodbridge. Powell was nearly perfect in a 47-0 rout of Riverbend. The senior finished 11 for 12 for 238 yards and four touchdowns.
⇒ Game to watch in Virginia: South Lakes at Madison, Friday, 7 p.m.
Another coach’s take on participation
According to a high school sports participation survey collected by the National Federation of State High School Associations, traditional 11-player high school football teams saw a 3 percent decline in participation nationwide last season.
Coach Mike Mayo of Laurel is disheartened by the drop. He mentioned an oft-cited reason — fear of concussions — but believes there’s another element to it.
“These guys have so many other things that they can do to occupy their time,” Mayo said. “A lot of kids shy away from the grueling workouts that come with football.”
⇒ Player of the week in D.C./Prince George’s County: Jayden Sauray, QB, Wise. The sophomore celebrated his 16th birthday by making his first varsity start, and he passed for two touchdowns and rushed for another in a 41-0 rout at Eleanor Roosevelt.
⇒ Game to watch in D.C./Prince George’s County: Friendship Collegiate at H.D. Woodson, Saturday, 5 p.m.