Darren DeMeio hasn’t been around the SMAC long, but the preseason was long enough for him to learn that Saturday’s opener at No. 20 Huntingtown is a big deal.
“This is the one game everybody wants to win,” said DeMeio, the first-year coach at Northern. “You want to win every game you go into by keeping the guys focused and executing what we’ve been working on. But as far as proximity, this is a crosstown team and a lot of guys know each other.”
Northern has lost the last five meetings of the Calvert County rivals. The Hurricanes’ run to the 3A state final last season adds to the tension.
“Huntingtown is a team that’s had a lot of success the past few years and we expect them to play with that confidence and expectation to win,” DeMeio said.
“Our guys need to know that they need to play with that same level of confidence, they’ve worked hard and they need to expect to win as well.”
The Patriots will rely on returning quarterback Taylor Wagner and strong upperclassmen on both lines to lead. DeMeio’s focus in his first season has included some alterations to past playing and training styles and an emphasis on team building.
“The number on thing we’re focusing on is building up that team unity to play together and have a successful first game,” he said. . . .
The game between Charles County’s Patuxent at North Point of Calvert County doesn’t carry the same intercounty rivalry, but it will be a matchup of some of the biggest names in the conference. Running back Rafiq Douglas returns for the Panthers and tight end Marquise Watts and running back Marquel Dickerson will be players to watch for the Eagles.
The teams met in Week 4 last season and Patuxent took that win, 31-8, to give North Point its first loss of 2012. The Eagles lost three games total against SMAC opponents last season. Douglas acccounted for one touchdown and 96 yards in that game — one of only two double-digit showings in a season of 1,363 yards total.