Whatever the story of Gwynn Park’s season had been through the first six games of the season and 43 minutes of the seventh, the unexpectedly harrowing narrative was set to choose a late-season course as Gwynn Park took the ball trailing neighborhood rival Surrattsville by 12 midway through the fourth quarter Saturday.
Without a rally against the defending 1A North region champion, the Yellow Jackets would have fallen to 2-5, their momentary climb from a historically futile 0-4 start over, playoffs all but stricken from their schedule. If they could somehow stage a comeback, it would be a sign that the perennial Prince George’s County 2A power may be rounding into its typically dangerous form, after all.
Somehow, quarterback Aaron Parker steered the Yellow Jackets to a season-changing comeback and 33-32 win. First, he led Gwynn Park down the field for a drive that culminated in a Greg Young touchdown run to pull the Yellow Jackets back within a touchdown. Then, the Yellow Jackets forced a fumble with just less than two minutes to play and took over at their own 37. Parker led them to the 27-yard line with 5.8 seconds to play, then used Gwynn Park’s final chance to hurl a fingers-crossed pass toward the end zone.
Parker finished 11 of 17 for 185 yards and with four carries for 50 yards rushing, as well.
“It’s just what this year was all about, adversity,” Gwynn Park Coach Danny Hayes said. “. . . Nobody got down on each other. Everyone was picking each other up. Nobody gave up, saw the adversity on the sideline, kids holding each other accountable, and we really came together as a team.”
The win pushed Gwynn Park to 3-4 overall, 3-2 in the Prince George’s County 3A/2A/1A standings. The Yellow Jackets came into this past weekend five spots out of the final 2A South playoff spot, but they play one of the teams ahead of them — Friendly — in the coming weeks, and could still earn one of those four spots if teams ahead of them stumble.
“There’s no quit in Gwynn Park,” Hayes said. “No quit no matter what.”
Fairmont Heights wasn’t supposed to be this good for this long. The Hornets got off to the best start in recent school history at 3-0, sure, but the transformation from 1-9 punching bag to underdog 1A belligerent seemed unlikely to happen so fast.
But with three weeks to go, Fairmont Heights is 5-2 after beating Friendly 18-14, currently in position for the fourth playoff spot in the 1A North region.
Any questions about the Hornets depth of talent were erased when they kept up with 1A power Forestville, knocked off much larger 2A school Largo, and pushed Surrattsville to overtime. Any questions that remain concern Fairmont’s depth in general. The Hornets have one of the smallest rosters in Prince George’s 3A/2A/1A, and will take on powerful Potomac and Gwynn Park in two of their final three games.