They often go completely unnoticed, unmentioned in box scores or game recaps. But in No. 20 Meade’s 45-22 victory over South River Friday night, the offensive and defensive linemen proved to be the difference.
Led by 6-foot-6, 285-pound Navy recruit Jake Hawk, the Mustangs’ offensive line manhandled the Seahawks (1-1) for the majority of the game. The line fueled a rushing attack that racked up 337 yards, including 199 by senior running back Kyle Evans, while not allowing a sack in 19 dropbacks.
With a comfortable pocket and time to find open receivers, quarterback Marcus Smith completed 12 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Meade Coach Rich Holzer said his offensive line was so aggressive that its largest problem Friday night was an assortment of holding penalties on strong blocks.
“We actually told our O-line to back off a little bit,” Holzer said. “They’re calling so many holding penalties, we told them to back off a little bit so we don’t get all those penalty yards.”
While the offensive line got the job done for Meade (2-0) on one side of the ball, senior Niquekko Cook paced the defense front. The hulking 6-foot-5 end had one sack, two pass deflections and four hurries, constantly flustering South River quarterback Jalen Jones.
Holzer was particularly pleased with his team’s performance in the trenches because he said that the Seahawks have some impressive linemen, too.
“They’re big,” Holzer said of South River. “I just think our big guys are tougher. I think that’s what it came down to.”
Less than two years ago, in Rob Elliott’s first season at Chesapeake, the Cougars were blown out by Arundel, 40-0. On Friday night, Chesapeake was on the other side of the rout.
The Cougars (1-1) thrashed North County on the road, 59-0, in what was their most lopsided victory in more than a decade. They intercepted seven passes, returning two for touchdowns. They recovered a fumble and had a punt return for a touchdown.
“Again, we’re not a team to try and run the score up on anybody,” Elliott said, “but it was 53-0 at halftime. . . . It just kind of snowballed on [the Knights].”
A rough loss for North County (1-1) was a gratifying win for Chesapeake, which had won just five games in its past three seasons before Elliott took over. The Cougars have since gone 5-5 in 2011 and 6-4 last year.