“Just to see our kids back used to winning feels like a weight off their shoulders,” Atholton Coach Justin Carey said. “You can always sleep easier Friday nights and wake up Saturday morning when you came out victorious.”
Atholton (1-4) trailed by a point when it received the ball with about three minutes remaining Friday. Quarterback Ethan Brown connected with wide receiver Harlem Morton for a 37-yard touchdown to cap the decisive drive with about 90 seconds remaining. The Raiders finished a two-point conversion to take a seven-point lead.
Still, North Hagerstown had hope after driving into Atholton territory before Maggio stepped in to secure the victory.
“It’s just kind of a blessing and excitement,” Carey said, “that we finally get to see our hard work pay off with a W.”
Atholton was coming off a double-overtime loss to Long Reach the previous week. Had Atholton’s kicker been healthy to kick a late extra point, Carey feels his team could have won.
Now that his team finally has a win, Carey hopes the Raiders have the confidence to contend for a Maryland 3A East playoff spot.
“Looking at our schedule, we still have some great teams,” Carey said. “But we have enough talent to match up and kind of make some noise springboarding forward.”
⇒ Game to watch in Maryland: Northern at Patuxent, Friday, 7 p.m.
⇒ Big number: 31. Southern snapped its 31-game losing streak with a 21-0 win over Centennial on Friday.
Virginia: Look who’s undefeated
When Chantilly picked Sean Curry, a former assistant coach who had left for Freedom-South Riding, to come back and take over its program in 2017, the Chargers — mired in a stretch of four- and five-win seasons — were hoping to return to a place among the perennial powers in Northern Virginia.
Instead, they hit rock bottom. Curry inherited a program he described as “unhealthy in terms of participation” and lacking the experience and depth to stay afloat against a relentless Fairfax County schedule. It went 0-10.
“You either win or learn, so there was a lot of learning going on there,” Curry said.
Without the usual stable of seniors, Curry had to rely on a number of sophomores in that 2017 season. Now that those players are seniors, the Chargers are reaping the rewards.
The Chargers employ a physical, run-first offense, and the style is working. Friday’s 42-13 win over Washington-Liberty improved them to 5-0. They have put up more than 35 points in every game this season.
A hard-nosed running game is a perfect approach for a team that received plenty of bulletin board material in 2017 and again in 2018, when they finished 3-7.
“They have a chip on their shoulder as a program,” Curry said. “It’s that fine line of loving each other and playing for each other but also being really angry and ready to take it out on somebody.”
⇒ Player of the week from Virginia: Christian Greene, QB, Briar Woods. Greene ran for three touchdowns, including the eventual game-winner, in a 24-23 overtime win against Riverside.
⇒ Game to watch in Virginia: Lake Braddock at Robinson, 7 p.m. Friday
WCAC: Hope and worry for contenders
Six games of nonconference prep are over, and it’s time for league play in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, the area’s best and one of the best in the nation. Here’s one reason to hope, and one reason to worry, for each of the four powerhouses:
Hope: Caleb Williams is the league’s best quarterback, and he’ll keep the top-ranked Eagles in every game to the end. (See last year’s Hail Mary to beat DeMatha in the WCAC title game.)
Worry: Gonzaga has weathered some slow first halves during its 6-0 start, trailing Don Bosco Prep (N.J.) 14-0 early and Georgetown Prep at halftime 7-3.
Hope: The Stags’ defense is the dominant unit in this league, posting four straight shutouts.
Worry: It’s hard to find one, with a margin of 162-6 over the past five games, but DeMatha would do well to avoid shootouts with its focus on the rushing attack.
Hope: The Falcons’ game-changer is their defense and special teams. A pick-six and blocked punt in the end zone were the difference against Friendship Collegiate.
Worry: Offense. The most points the Falcons have scored this season is 21.
Hope: This still might be the most talented team in the league, with seven seniors and six juniors rated with three stars or better in 247sports.com’s composite rankings.
Worry: The Cadets have lost four straight and may have overdone it with their schedule. Four top-10 opponents nationally provided a brutal start to the fall.
⇒ Player of the week from private schools: Justice Ellison rushed for three first-quarter touchdowns as Flint Hill crushed Sidwell Friends, 62-0.
⇒ Game to watch for private schools: Gonzaga at Good Counsel, 7 p.m. Friday
Wise looks in the mirror
The 70-0 win over Bladensburg doesn’t move the needle for Wise Coach DaLawn Parrish.
Since taking over in 2006, Parrish has preached to his players that it’s not about who’s on the other sideline.
“What people fail to realize is when you’re consistently playing for state championships, blowing out regular-season opponents is a common thing, especially at the public school level,” Parrish said. “If we want to be at the top it has to be about improving the man in the mirror.”
Parrish attributes the Pumas’ 57-2 record since 2015, including their 5-0 start this season, to his staff’s detailed grading system.
During film study, each player receives a grade based on their alignment, assignment and technique. The opponent is barely considered.
“ ‘SportsCenter’ glorifies touchdowns and other big plays, but how many times did we beat our man or just play sound football on the plays we didn’t score on,” Parrish explained. “Getting the big stats and highlight plays for your Hudl is awesome, but consistently doing your job is what wins you championships. Executing will always translate regardless of the level of competition.”
⇒ Player of the week from DC/Prince George’s: Amonte Dreher QB, Dunbar. Dreher had three passing touchdowns in the first half and rushed for another, late in the fourth quarter, to seal the deal in Dunbar’s 26-14 win over H.D. Woodson.
⇒ Game to watch in DC/Prince George’s: Dunbar at Theodore Roosevelt, 6 p.m. Saturday