"As our coach says, it doesn't matter how you start it's how you finish it, and we're finishing it powerful," Vaughn said. "We're showing everybody that River Hill football is back, and we don't ever die out."
River Hill has now won the regional title six out of seven years. Their only loss in that stretch was to eventual state champion Wilde Lake in the 3A East championship game last year.
"Last year was a really disappointing season for us and we knew that this season we (needed to) come out with more focus, more intensity and we knew we could be one of the best teams in Maryland," Wells said. "We have a great line, our defense is amazing, and we have backs that can run the ball."
Friday's loss ended Atholton's best season in school history, as the Raiders won ten games in a row and claimed the school's first outright county title.
"Our kids are crushed," Schmitt said. "But we've got great kids and I'm really proud of them. They're not going to realize it tonight but maybe by Thursday they'll enjoy Thanksgiving and they'll remember a lot of great memories this season ... but this is going to sting for awhile."
Last year, Atholton stunned River Hill, 10-0, in a regular season game, ending the Hawks 48-game league winning streak. But the Raiders season ended with a regional semifinal loss to Wilde Lake. A week later, they were preparing for 2011.
"We were out here at this time last year running sprints on an icy parking lot doing plyometrics and sprints," Atholton senior Kenny Thomas said. "To fall short, there's no worse feeling than this right now ... our ultimate goal was the state championship and to have the ring, and we fell short. It was states or bust ... we didn't achieve what we were supposed to. County champs is OK, but thats not what we wanted overall.
"Right now all I can think about is this loss," he added. "I'm sure we'll get over it as a team eventually, but right now it hurts."
Schmitt knows that the sting of Friday's loss will eventually subside, and his team will be ready to pick up where it left off next year.
"We've got a bunch of seniors who are going to play college football and a bunch of underclassmen who are ready to get in the weight room," he said. "A rivalry has begun and it will continue on here over the next couple of years."
RH (10-2) 0 14 0 7 - 21
A (10-2) 6 0 0 6 - 12
A: McMahon 45 run (kick failed), 8:24.
RH: Wells 1 run (Grove kick), 7:19.
RH: Wells 29 run (Grove kick), :30.
A: Thomas 7 run (run failed), 8:58.
RH: Vaughn 8 run (Grove kick), 1:59.
RH: Wells 28 carries, 132 yards, 2 TDs; Griffin 11-54; Vaughn 17-50, TD; Team 57-235, 3 TD.
A: Thomas 19-112, TD; McMahon 14-110, TD; Haas 1-6; Matherson 1-4; Team 35-232, 2 TD.
RH: Vaughn 1/2, 38 yards.
A: McMahon 7/18, 53, 2 INT.
RH: Kinkead 1-38.
A: Ellison 5-39, Tennessee 1-10, Powell 1-4.
Leading kick returners
RH: Griffin 2-30