This story has been updated.
In 2009, Manchester Valley High School fielded its first-ever football team — and went winless in 10 games.
Three years later, the Mavericks posted their first-ever winning season — and their first run for a playoff appearance.
And while football is a team game, no single player has been more important to the growth and success of the program than senior quarterback Dominick "Dom" Frank. A three-year starter at quarterback, Frank's passing and running skills have been the key to Manchester Valley's steady improvement.
When Frank took over as the team's starting quarterback in 2010, the Mavericks were coming off a difficult first year in which they were shut out six times and outscored by a staggering 400-25.
The program began its ascent in Frank's sophomore campaign, winning the season opener at Clear Spring and the finale against North Carroll. Last fall, the county's newest high school jumped to five wins.
In 2012, Manchester Valley has taken another big step. The Mavericks went over the .500 mark for the first time, and entered this Friday's regular-season finale against archrival North Carroll with a 6-3 record — and a potential playoff berth on the line.
In that contest, Manchester Valley's 26-7 win over North Carroll — combined with a 20-12 loss by Northwestern-Baltimore in its final regular-season game against playoff-bound Reginald Lewis — made Manchester Valley the fourth seed in the Class 1A North Region.
"I knew we had a good team," Frank said. "But I didn't know that we would progress as well as we did."
Frank is the definition of a multi-talented football player. A physical runner who efficiently uses his speed, he is adept at rolling out and throwing the deep ball. Frank makes strong, pinpoint throws on medium-length sideline routes, and often fires passes into tight coverage. He also plays strong safety and is on the kickoff return team.
"He stepped in as the starter in his sophomore year, and we could see that he had some special abilities," said Manchester Valley head coach Tony Shermeyer. "With Dom's ability to run and throw the ball, it was very easy to build an offense around him. He's played a very large part in our success."
Frank will leave Manchester Valley as the school's career rushing, passing, and total offense leader. This year, he stands fourth among county rushers with 973 yards, and would be Carroll's top passer if Westminster quarterback Deryk Kern wasn't having the best season in county history.
Going into Friday's game, Frank had completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,112 yards. With 15 passing and 11 rushing touchdowns, Frank has had a hand in two-thirds of all Maverick points.
"His passing game is more efficient," Shermeyer said. "Although he doesn't have as many passing yards as last season, Dom has done a better job of making the right decisions this year.
"He's also a very legitimate running threat, and it's like having a tailback in the backfield who can also throw the football," he said.
Frank's excellence at quarterback belies his football background. When he started playing for the Hampstead Ravens at age 8, Frank was an offensive lineman.
He stayed on the line until his freshman year at Manchester Valley, when he moved to running back.
Frank never took a snap from center before his sophomore season.
"My body started to thin out, so that made the transition easier," he said. "I just love hitting people and don't want to be stopped. I think that tendency comes from playing on the line, where you're used to hitting someone all the time."
While Frank was comfortable at quarterback, he had a lot to learn about playing the most influential position on the field.