Natalie Randolph’s Coolidge Colts were exposed in a season-opening blowout loss to Yorktown. (Toni L. Sandys/Washington Post)

Natalie Randolph didn’t ask her players what had gone wrong. She turned to the 29 Coolidge players kneeling in front of her on the sideline of Yorktown High School and asked instead, “So what?”

Randolph knew the faults that led to the 49-0 loss to No. 17 Yorktown on Thursday night in Arlington. Her team is young and understaffed. She didn’t need excuses.

“So what?” she repeated as the Patriots jogged off the field in the opposite direction. “You hold your head high.”

Randolph — perhaps the only female high school head football coach in the country – begins her fourth year at Coolidge with a new quarterback and only half of her players from last year’s squad.

For most of her players, this was their first varsity game. And for three Colts, it was their first football game ever. They weren’t accustomed to hydrating for four quarters.

Woodbridge's Da'Shawn Hand disrupts on defense and scores a touchdown in a scrimmage against Yorktown. (Gabe Hiatt for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

“They’re not used to a full game, and everyone is going both ways,” Randolph said. “It’s all up from here. I don’t believe in feeling sorry for ourselves.”

Returning starters like quarterback Jamar Bolden provide leadership for the inexperienced team, but the sophomore also has to adjust to his new role as signal-caller.

“I’ve got the plays down pat as of tonight,” said Bolden, who played on both the offensive and defensive lines last year. “It’s just about getting everybody on the same page.”

Sophomore Khiry Jeter also played as a freshman and will be covering all areas of the field at wide receiver, running back and defensive back.

“This is the first time some of us have ever played,” he said. “We just have to stay focused, kill it with our grades and keep learning.”

Randolph expects nearly 10 more players to join the team in the next week to add bulk, if not experience, to the lineup. Her sideline was dwarfed by the 65-man Yorktown roster across the field. But with a smaller team comes a closer community, and the opportunity for relationships within her team — a group Bolden refers to as a “family.”

The team met six days a week during the summer to work on fundamentals and strength. It will be a few games into the season before the Colts are able to show what they’re capable of against like-skilled teams in the DC Interscholastic Athletic Association, Randolph said, but it’s good to get the worst over with.

“There were bright spots and there were bad spots, of course,” she said. “I’m just glad we get a dose of the hardest over with early.”