Knees high, arms swinging, Blake junior Kenny Gardner III accelerated across midfield en route to a 53-yard interception return. As he gained separation from the Rockville player, the 6-foot-2 cornerback thought back to all the track meets and offseason workouts.
“I had it the whole way,” Gardner said. “When I picked up my speed that’s when he got lost.”
After years of playing catch up, Blake (3-2) is in the midst of its best season season since 2012. The Bengals defeated Rockville, 38-6. The motto heading into this fall was ‘BPB’: big payback. The team has emphasized speed, strength and conditioning under second-year Coach DeShawn Anderson, a longtime track coach, and many of the players have joined the track and field team.
“It’s a big difference, since everybody was committed to the weight room a lot of us got stronger and a lot faster than we were,” said Gardner, who collected three interceptions and a 49-yard receiving touchdown against Rockville. “We know how to pick up our knees when we run, and move our arms with our feet.”
Senior wide receiver Ty Mason is back after missing most of last season while junior transfers Kevin Baker and Jabari Bennett have bolstered the offensive line. Junior running backs Isaac Smith and Carlton Thomas have carried the backfield and senior Jabari Jones (six sacks) and sophomore Max Tempchin (seven) have led the pass rush.
Though improved from last year’s 2-8 campaign, Blake has still struggled with inconsistency. The Bengals were held scoreless in each of their losses, including a 14-0 defeat to Paint Branch in Week 2. But Blake, which faces No. 3 Damascus (5-0) Friday, has its their sights not only on reaching the postseason, but shedding a losing reputation, Gardner said.
“[We want to] show people we’re not the old Blake that everybody comes out to watch lose,” Gardner said. “That’s not us anymore. We’re the new era Blake.”
Average point margin in the 13 games involving Montgomery County public school teams this week. All but four of those games were decided by double-figures. Lopsided results have been the norm in the county this fall.
Seneca Valley’s offensive line
The Screaming Eagles rushed for 491 yards — including 327 and a record-setting nine touchdowns from Adrian Platt — in a 69-14 victory against Magruder. Platt credited linemen Olawale Layeni, Edgar Guerrero, Marco Cedillo, Roman Roberson and Manasseh Joaquin, along with wide receivers Dawayne Kelley and Lance Wilson for creating lanes Friday night in Germantown.
Adrian Platt saw the whole in the defense and sprinted through it, as he has done so many times before.
But when the Seneca Valley senior crossed the goal line untouched, his teammates came running after him, and an announcement followed that he had broken a Maryland state record.
Platt capped off a historic nine-touchdown performance with an 18-yard score late in the fourth quarter Friday against Magruder. Through five games this fall, the speedy, 5-foot-7, 170-pound running back has 1,242 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns.
While Platt said he hasn’t been keeping track of his statistics, his teammates and coaches made a concerted effort to set him up for the single-game record on Friday in Germantown. After sitting out the third quarter with eight touchdowns, he returned to register his ninth on the final drive.
“It means a lot to be honest,” Platt said. “I’m just happy they showed how selfless they can be and how much they care about me.”
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