The Maret football team possessed a slim lead in the final seconds of the third quarter Friday evening when quarterback Roman Jensen threw a screen pass to running back DJ Hill. Hill broke multiple tackles while exploding down the sideline for a long gain that placed the Frogs into the red zone.
“As soon as that happened, it’s like we came to life,” Maret Coach Mike Engelberg said. “It’s like: ‘Wait a second. We’re a football team.’ ”
Coaching Maret’s most inexperienced team in nearly two decades, Engelberg had waited for his players to find their bearings. After Hill’s play against Severn, the Frogs did just that.
Maret scored two touchdowns in the opening 80 seconds of the fourth quarter. What was a close game for three periods became a rout in Maret’s 40-7 win in Severna Park.
“That fourth quarter was kind of our awakening,” Engelberg said. “You saw us become a team. Prior to that fourth quarter, we’re all just kind of feeling it out, like, ‘What do we do?’ And then all of a sudden in the fourth quarter … the kids are like, ‘Wait a second — we can do this.’ ”
In an end zone after the win, Engelberg asked how many seniors had played more than three years of football. Two players raised their arms.
While Maret’s 46 players are the most in school history, Engelberg recruited many of them from the hallways in the 320-student upper school. Some wanted to join after watching the Frogs (3-1) beat Bell on a game-winning field goal in last year’s D.C. State Athletic Association Class A championship game.
Wide receiver Brice June, who caught three touchdowns against Severn (3-1), played basketball and flag football growing up. The recent Yale commit developed a passion for football last fall, when Engelberg believed he could be a star.
“The entire program is built around patience,” June said, “and coaches saying: ‘Hey, you don’t need any experience to play for this team. We just want people who want to win and people who want to play.’ ”
Severn also knows about building a small team with 420 students in its upper school. The Admirals finished winless last season before many of the school’s Division I-bound lacrosse players joined the football team this fall.
But Maret proved it is further along. Jensen threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to June on the first play of the fourth quarter to provide the Frogs a 21-7 lead. About a minute later, Maret defensive back Donovan Calhoun intercepted a pass. On the ensuing play, Calhoun caught a screen pass and sprinted down the left sideline for a 50-yard touchdown.
By the final minutes, Maret’s starters cheered on the sideline for the team’s reserves.
“We just were a lot more physical,” Calhoun said. “We realized we were the better team. I mean, we knew it all along. But we showed it.”