“At the time it was tough, but I kept telling the kids that it was going to make us a stronger team,” Engelberg said. “All year we were out of the limelight, and the kids just rallied around it.”
With senior quarterback Satchel Parker leading the way, Maret (9-3) quickly established itself as the better team Saturday, taking a 16-0 advantage into halftime. Parker had a hand in all four of the Frogs’ touchdowns and was named the game’s MVP.
“It was so great to see [Satchel win MVP],” senior offensive lineman Max Norton said. “Satchel has improved so much over the years, and his performance this season is such a huge reason why we won a state title.”
Lopsided loss aside, Coolidge (7-6) accomplished plenty in 2019, following a one-win season by taking the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association Stripes division championship under first-year coach Kevin Nesbitt.
“Regardless of what happens in the DCSAA championship, the year is a success,” Nesbitt said after his team’s Gravy Bowl win last month. “Winning a championship in Year 1 has already opened so many eyes to what this program is capable of.”
⇒ Player of the week for D.C./Prince George’s County: Dorian Strong, WR/CB, Wise. The senior caught two touchdowns and also returned an interception 40-yards for a touchdown.
⇒ Game of the week for D.C./Prince George’s County: 4A state championship: Wise vs. Northwest, at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Tuscarora shows growth with a region final victory over Broad Run
Every football team tries to evolve over the course of a season. The goal is always to be the best version of yourself come playoff time, a version that could easily defeat who you were at the start of the season.
For Tuscarora, Friday’s Virginia Class 4 Region C championship provided a pretty direct measuring stick of that kind of growth. It was a rematch with Broad Run, which beat the Huskies by two points in the season opener and hadn’t lost since.
The Huskies showed their development with a 30-7 win, and they will have a chance to put it on display again in the state semifinals.
“Week 1 we were playing essentially a state championship-caliber game, and we had some 14 kids playing on a Friday night for the first time. That’s not a normal game to open with,” Tuscarora Coach Brandon Wheelbarger said. “Playing them again [Friday], our kids had a little more ease.”
Senior quarterback Ethan Gick made it look easy. After inheriting the full-time starting role from former All-Met Justin Allen, now at Elon, Gick has been at the center of a dynamic Tuscarora offense. Surrounded by playmakers such as running back Bryce Duke and wide receivers Jevonn Gilyard and Ryan Upp, Gick makes things go. He finished with four touchdowns against Broad Run.
“He’s a kid that has done everything we’ve asked him to do,” Wheelbarger said. “He’s the most selfless kid I’ve ever coached. I think he just enjoys playing with and for his teammates.”
The Huskies are headed to the state semifinals for the fourth time in the school’s 10-year history. They will meet another successful program — Virginia Beach powerhouse Salem, winner of four of the past five Class 4 titles.
“We need to get our kids ready to get on the bus, take that long trip and be in a state championship-like atmosphere,” Wheelbarger said.
⇒ Player of the week from Virginia: Jared Cole, RB, Stone Bridge. The senior ran for 168 yards and three touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 57-15 win over Woodgrove in the Class 5 Region C title game. The U-Mass. commit also added a receiving touchdown.
⇒ Game to watch in Virginia: Class 6 state semifinal: South County at Westfield, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Huntingtown’s strong season ends in state semifinals
Huntingtown (12-1) came close to beating one of Maryland’s strongest programs and playing for the 3A state championship, so its coaches commiserated on how the game could’ve gone differently. But at one point, Friel and his assistants took a moment to laugh and remember how far the program has come.
Two years ago, Huntingtown went 2-8. Since then, the Hurricanes have reached the Maryland 3A semifinals in back-to-back years, and they won the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference this season.
“I knew we were going to be good, but how good was kind of up to them,” Friel said. “I definitely felt like we had the pieces in place.”
Friel had faith in his defense in 2017, but he knew his team’s offense had to improve. Part of the reason it did was quarterback Trent Connolly’s strong play. The senior exited with an injury in the second quarter Friday, and while Huntingtown’s coaches enjoyed their season success, they wondered what might’ve happened had Connolly remained healthy.
⇒ Game to watch in Maryland: 3A state championship: Damascus vs. Linganore at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Thursday at 7 p.m.
⇒ Big number: 5. Damascus has qualified for five state championship games over the past six years.