HUNTINGTOWN, MD - Their remaining schedule shows two games left, and thatâ€™s probably how Huntingtown would have looked at it most seasons.
Two games, two chances for victory, two weeks before another yearâ€™s football chapter closes its pages.
Attitudes are different at Huntingtown now. Even before a 24-6 win at LaPlata, Oct. 24 that moved them closer to sealing one of the top spots in the 3A south regional playoffs, the Hurricanes have been thinking ahead.
â€śEvery year, the expectations get a little bit greater,â€ť said Huntingtown head coach Jerry Franks. â€śLast year the goal was to make the playoffs. I guess we were satisfied to make them [Huntingtown lost to Westlake 35-0 in the 2007 opening round].
â€śThis year, we look to make them and hopefully be able to get a win.â€ť
His players are a little more self-assured.
â€śWeâ€™re aiming for six wins and no losses,â€ť said middle linebacker D.J. Hooper, alluding to the number of games it would take to win a state championship this year.
Those are heady goals for a team celebrating a fifth year of existence and with only one postseason trip in its history.
But Huntingtown (7-1, 5-1 Southern Maryland Athletic Conference), currently in a mathematical sprint with Westlake and Friendly for homefield advantage during the playoffs, is past being content with winning records. The success of their last 19 games has only bred waning for more.
â€śItâ€™s so different,â€ť noted senior Tobias Jenifer, comparing the teamâ€™s aspirations between last year and now. â€śEvery year itâ€™s been building. Every senior class has left their mark to get to this point.â€ť
Whether it was because they were away from their home crowd, or the fact they had easily disposed of two previous opponents by a combined score of 108-35, Huntingtown seemed to be looking a little too far down the road against LaPlata, at least to start out.
LaPlata (3-5, 2-4 SMAC) controlled possession in the opening quarter, holding Huntingtown to just five offensive snaps. The Warriorsâ€™ ability to play ball control was mostly because of Marcus Smoot, their all-everything senior. Lined at quarterback, Smoot darted in, around and past the Hurricanesâ€™ defense, rushing 21 times for 103 yards.
â€śSmoot is a very, very good player,â€ť praised Franks, who nonetheless insisted his team has to â€śtackle a bit better.â€ť
After Smootâ€™s one yard plunge pulled LaPlata to within 7-6 in the first quarter, Huntingtownâ€™s defense finally began to assert themselves. They shut out the Warriors over the next 36 minutes, conceding yardage but forcing turnovers (three interceptions and a fumble recovery) when it mattered.
â€śItâ€™s a bend but donâ€™t break philosophy,â€ť explained Hooper of the Hurricanesâ€™ tendency to let teams move freely within the 20-yard lines. â€śAs long as they donâ€™t score, weâ€™re fine with that.â€ť
Huntingtown had their own frustrations on offenseâ€”LaPlata stacked the box in an attempt to neutralize Huntingtown running back (and former Raider) Greg Goodwin, who finished with just 36 yards on 13 carries.
With the onus shifted to quarterback Peter Athens, the senior delivered using both his arm and legs, scrambling for a 39-yard touchdown and throwing a 40-yard score to Jenifer in the second half to cushion Huntingtownâ€™s lead.
â€śWe just didnâ€™t seem to be able to do very much in the first half,â€ť said Franks. â€śItâ€™s a good thing we got ourselves together. That was critical for us.â€ť
And with a goal of playing six more games, having any more uneven performances is no longer an option. Which is something the Hurricanes seem to understand.
â€śWe canâ€™t come out slow when we get to Northern, our rival,â€ť Hooper said. â€śNot going to happen.â€ť
â€śWe just need to finish games,â€ť added Jenifer. â€śAnd then, I donâ€™t think anybody will be able to hang with the Hurricanes.â€ť
E-mail William Logan at email@example.com.
1 2 3 4 Total
Huntingtown 7 3 7 7 24
LaPlata 6 0 0 0 6
Huntingtown (3:34) â€“ Joe Karbowsky 76-yard run, Conor Peterson kick good
LaPlata (0:06) â€“ Marcus Smoot 1-yard run, Adam Lemmert kick blocked
Huntingtown (0:01) â€“ Peterson 25-yard field goal
Huntingtown (8:26) â€“ Peter Athens 39-yard run, Peterson kick good
Huntingtown (5:12) â€“ Athens 40-yard pass to Tobias Jenifer, Peterson kick good
Smoot: 2-of-9 for 7 yards, 3 interceptions, 21 carries for 103 yards, 1 TD
Tracey Holliman â€“ 12 carries for 38 yards
Kevin Roach â€“ 6 carries for 32 yards
Travis Welch â€“ 3 carries for 16 yards
Khalid Caldwell â€“ 8 carries for 37 yards
Athens: 5-of-10 passing for 103 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 2 carries for 74 yards, 1 TD
Greg Goodwin: 13 carries for 36 yards
Joe Karbowsky: 6 carries for 95 yards, 1 TD
Conor Stueckler: 2 receptions for 66 yards
Jenifer: 1 reception for 40 yards, 1 TD