The Freedom-South Riding Eagles entered this season having won a single game over the past two years. Zach Barnisky, the offensive coordinator, was elevated to head coach and knew the program needed something different. So he turned to an old-school solution: the single wing.

As more local programs emphasize speed in offensive systems such as the spread, the run-heavy single wing, which features four players in the backfield, is fueled by power.

“We basically sat down as a staff and said, ‘If we’re truly going to change the culture, we have to bring a level of physicality to the program,’ ” Barnisky said. “And that’s how we settled on the single-wing offense.”

In their second game of the season, the Eagles earned a 54-20 win over Independence. Last season, they scored a total of 38 points. Barnisky estimated his team ran just three offensive plays against Independence.

“The kids have really bought into it, and really that’s why we’ve been successful so far,” Barnisky said. “It’s because they’ve brought their hard hat every day to work. They put in hard practices and work their tail off, and that’s why we’re starting to see a shift in culture.”

This week, the Eagles will come face-to-face with the ultimate model of single-wing success: Stone Bridge. This past summer, Barnisky went to a single-wing symposium in Pennsylvania, and the Bulldogs were mentioned several times as an example. Coach Mickey Thompson and his program have thrived with the single wing, providing a model for teams to emulate.

“We knew this was going to level the playing field a bit and allow us to compete in games in the third and fourth quarter,” Barnisky said. “And I feel like we have seen the returns on it already.”

Player of the Week from Virginia: Cason Poythress, QB, Wakefield. The senior threw a pretty fade to Lukai Hatcher in the corner of the end zone with nine seconds to play as the Warriors beat Washington-Liberty, 19-17.

Game to watch in Virginia: Hylton at Patriot, Friday, 7 p.m.

— Michael Errigo

St. Albans triples last year’s win total with 3-0 start

When St. Albans reconvened this summer after a 1-9 finish in 2018 and a long offseason, the team came up with seven goals for 2019. Each was simple, including coming to practice prepared every day and winning the line of scrimmage.

The team seems to be accomplishing some of those goals: The Bulldogs are on pace for the area’s best turnaround. They moved to 3-0 on Saturday with a 14-0 win against Potomac School, adding to a 30-0 shutout of Severn and a 35-14 victory at Bishop Ireton. Last year, they lost to all three of those teams.

There was no quick fix with this year’s team, Coach Gary Schnell said — no all-everything player and only four seniors on the roster. To their coach, the Bulldogs just seem more invested in results, starting with a priority over the summer to improve in the weight room.

“They love to come to practice every day, which is different from what we’ve had in the past,” Schnell said. “They just love to fly around and play. They’re really having fun.”

Schnell has his qualifiers: The season is only three games old, and tougher opponents lie ahead in the Interstate Athletic Conference, where St. Albans hasn’t won since 2016. But the Bulldogs already have their best win total since that year. They could finish with their first winning season since 2011.

Jackson Namian caught two interceptions and a long touchdown pass from quarterback Rob Murphy on Saturday. Murphy has been a spark plug for St. Albans in his first season as the starting quarterback, after starting as a freshman and junior at running back and on defense. He missed his sophomore year with an injury.

“This is really his third varsity football game as a starting quarterback,” Schnell said. “He doesn’t have a lot of game experience, but he’s got a ton of guts and heart.”

Player of the week for private schools: MarShawn Lloyd, RB, DeMatha. He reeled off a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage and a 41-yard score later in a 42-0 rout of St. Ignatius (Ohio), which entered last week ranked No. 21 in the country.

Game to watch for private schools: Mater Dei (Calif.)vs. St. John’s, Friday, 8:30 p.m., at Catholic University

— Jake Lourim

Who’s hot in D.C. and Prince George’s County?

As teams begin to self-assess through roughly a third of their schedules, here are four teams that look poised to make noise in the playoffs:

KIPP College Preparatory: With its experienced defensive line leading the way, KIPP (5-0) looks like a true contender in the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Stripes Division.

Suitland: The Rams (3-0) navigated through three straight road games and should be favored to win their next three games as well. A two-game stretch against Wise and C.H. Flowers in late October will determine whether Suitland is ready to rule Prince George’s County.

Wise: After a setback in the state semifinals, Wise (3-0) dubbed this season the revenge tour. Through the tour’s first three stops, the Pumas have outscored opponents 120-0.

Dunbar: Following a 14-8 loss to Landon, Coach Maurice Vaughn challenged his players to use the disappointment as fuel. The Crimson Tide responded by drubbing Ron Brown, 50-0. Dunbar (3-1) has scored 50, 46 and 50 in its three wins.

Player of the week from D.C./Prince George’s: La’Trell McCants, RB, Suitland. He accumulated 176 all-purpose yards and two scores as Suitland overpowered Eleanor Roosevelt 34-7.

Game of the week in D.C./Prince George’s: Bowie at Wise, Friday, 7 p.m.

— Tramel Raggs

Paint Branch’s young offense shows improvement

Paint Branch linebacker Tobi Adedoyin feels his team had a chance to beat Northwest on Sept. 13, if only the Panthers’ offense was more seasoned. Paint Branch returned one offensive starter from last year, and its offense struggled to capitalize in its 12-point loss to the Jaguars.

But Adedoyin said Paint Branch’s offense has continued to improve since preseason workouts. On Friday night, it certainly jelled in a 50-6 win over Springbrook.

“It’s the same thing we ran last year. It’s just with a new influx of people,” Adedoyin said. “We’re just taking it as slowly as possible so our coach can open up the whole playbook so we can start laying teams the hammer.”

Paint Branch (2-1) posted five shutouts last season, and this year it has continued to lean on its defense.

Off the field, things got a bit ugly Friday, as the game was called after fights broke out in the crowd. Montgomery County police said it arrested two people.

Player of the week from Maryland: Josh Ehrlich, QB, Broadneck. In leading the Bruins to their first win this season, the sophomore threw for 272 yards and three touchdowns against Glen Burnie.

Game to watch in Maryland: South River at Arundel, Friday, 6:30 p.m.

Big number: 3. Huntingtown handed North Point its first Southern Maryland Athletic Conference loss in three years when it beat the Eagles, 21-14, on Friday.

— Kyle Melnick