Thomas Stone may not be all the way back to the top of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference, but it’s starting to feel like they might be getting there.
The Cougars reached the state tournament nine times between 1980 and 2005, but went 6-44 between 2007 and 2011, including a 33-game losing streak between 2008 and 2011 excluding a forfeit win in 2009.
After their 28-20 win Friday over Chopticon (1-7, 1-5 SMAC), Thomas Stone (4-4, 4-3 SMAC) has won four consecutive games for the first time since 2004, and is .500 in October or later for the first time since 2006.
“We changed a lot of things and they’re kind of getting in a rhythm,” first-year Coach Paul Friel said. “They’re getting comfortable and getting more aggressive because they’re more confident in what they’re doing.”
Friel moved to the Waldorf school from Georgia during the offseason, and installed a Wing-T option offense and a 3-4 base defense that were both radically different from the more traditional systems the Cougars had employed before Friel came.
Junior quarterback Kieron Morsell (755 rushing yards, eight touchdowns) has thrived running the option attack, forming a potent offensive duo with senior running back Ray Dotson (968 rushing yards, eight touchdowns), who has averaged 186.3 yards per game during the Cougars’ last three wins.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Ryan Sharp has stepped into the middle of the new defense and makes all the calls, and has led the team with 74 tackles.
“You can see it in their eyes that the weight of losing is off their backs and they’re having fun with it,” Friel said. “I’m proud of the way these kids have stuck with it. It’s been more and more enjoyable for everybody.”
Elsewhere, the SMAC’s two remaining unbeaten teams lost this week, setting up what could be a chaotic final two weeks atop the league standings. Patuxent (7-1, 5-1) rebounded from its Week 7 loss to Huntingtown (7-1, 6-1) with a 27-21 win over McDonough (7-1, 5-1), behind 191 rushing yards and two touchdowns from senior quarterback Trey Lee. Westlake (6-2, 5-1) then upset Huntingtown, 14-7, to create a four-way tie in the loss column atop the conference.
Calvert (6-2, 4-2) earned a decisive 41-6 win over Leonardtown (4-4, 4-3) to remain one game behind, and with remaining games against Patuxent and McDonough, the Cavaliers could also be a factor in the league title race.
Huntingtown likely has the most favorable remaining schedule with only one more league game against Northern (3-5, 3-3) coming this week, while Patuxent must play Calvert and Leonardtown, McDonough must play Thomas Stone (4-4, 4-3) and Calvert, and Westlake must play Great Mills (1-7, 1-5) and North Point (5-3, 3-3).
With two swings of his leg, Greene etched himself into the Maryland record books Saturday, tying and then breaking the state’s high school record for most career field goals. The Bruins’ senior finished with three field goals in his team’s 44-21 win over North County, setting the new state record at 25.
“It was pretty incredible, because usually I come into the game and I usually don’t think about records, but deep inside that was sitting in the back of mind and once I kicked it, it was great,” Greene said of his first kick, a 41-yarder that tied him with previous record holder Alex Eckard of Linganore. “They announced it over the speaker and it was awesome just to have the team all support me and come out to congratulate me. It was incredible.”
In addition to his new state record, Greene managed to break the Broadneck school record for career kicking points with 199 and tie the record for most field goals in a game with three. Both were records previously held by Chris Desautels, a 2004 first-team All-Met kicker in his senior season.
“I knew about the amount of field goals in a career because the week before against Arundel, I tried for 23 so I knew I only had one more left. But the others, the kick scoring and the field goals in a game, I literally had no idea those were going to come around this game so I was really thankful for those opportunities.”
Setting records is nothing new for Greene, who already owns the two longest field goals in Anne Arundel County history with kicks of 55 and 50 yards last season. With at least a pair of regular season games left in addition to any postseason games, Greene said he has his sights set on one more record this season: the state record for most field goals in a season, set at 13 by Scott Abt of Cambridge-South Dorchester in 2010.
“Deep inside, there’s an amount of field goals in a season, and the state record is 13,” Greene said. “I’m at 9, so I need 4 more to tie, so I’m hoping for 4 more. But if I don’t get that I’m still thankful for what I’ve been allowed to accomplish so far.”