If last year's River Hill football team resembled a track team, with speedy scatbacks Evan Griffin and Justin Arn combining for more than 3,200 yards, this year's team might be characterized as a rugby squad.
The Hawks (3-0) won their 27th consecutive game Friday night at Atholton (0-3), 28-6, behind a pounding running game led by Kalonji Moore (160 yards, TD), Cory Daniel (33 yards) and Jon Kanda (26 yards). All three players are at least 6-feet and weight at least 200 pounds.
"We have a lot of athletic players on offense, our running backs are big and strong and can break tackles, and our linemen just give us a good push. That's going to get us a lot of yards," said Moore, who gained 140 of his rushing yards in the second half alone. "I told the team during halftime that we have to just pound the ball and score some points and that's what we did…this years team is bigger and stronger and in the third and fourth quarter (opponents) are going to wear down."
The defending state champions scored first on a 14-yard pass from Drew Pritchard to Chris Galloway with two minutes left in the first quarter, but Atholton answered with a touchdown pass from Phil Frazier to Byran Barney (15 rushing yards, 39 receiving yards) midway through the second quarter. The Raiders missed the extra point, and River Hill led by a precarious 7-6 score at halftime. It was the first touchdown allowed by River Hill this season.
Atholton's Bryan Gsell intercepted a pass to end a first half drive, and made 11 tackles. Cody Stolar led the Atholton defense with 12 tackles, and Ronald Kearney made two sacks.
But in the second half, Moore, Daniel and Kanda were just too much for the Raiders defense, combining for almost 180 yards in the final 24 minutes. As a result, River Hill (29 minutes, 13 first downs) possessed the ball for ten minutes longer than Atholton (19 minutes, 5 first downs).
"It's a little different than what we were last year," coach Brian Van Deusen said. "This year we've got some big kids who can pound. Cory is really a tight end but we try to get him the ball as much as we can. And Kalonji came up big tonight."
River Hill was penalized 13 times for 150 yards, while Atholton was assessed nine penalties for 70 yards in the loss.
RH (3-0) 7 0 7 14 - 28
A (0-3) 0 6 0 0 – 6
RH: Galloway 14 pass from Pritchard (Potocko kick), 2:10.
A: Barney 14 pass from Frazier (kick failed), 8:42.
RH: Moore 9 run (Potocko kick), 4:58.
RH: Pritchard 1 run (Potocko kick), 10:40.
RH: Patterson 9 run (Potocko kick), 3:11.
Around the league
Glenelg 24, Reservoir 6
The Gladiators improved to 2-1 after losing to River Hill, 7-3, in Week 1, and have allowed only 19 points through three games this season.
Hammond 30, Oakland Mills 14
Red-hot Hammond scored 23 second-half points to cruise past Oakland Mills, 30-14.
The Golden Bears (3-0) struck first, on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Martin to Deandre House, but led only 7-0 at halftime.
But Hammond scored 16 unanswered points, on a short Matt Stoughtenger run, a ten-yard touchdown pass from Martin to Brendan Urban and a 30-yard field goal by Nima Najafabadi, to put the game out of reach.
House, a sophomore, now has a touchdown reception in each of Hammond's three games this season.
Howard 35, Marriotts Ridge 10
Terrell Charles (19 carries, 183 yards, 3 touchdowns) led the Lions (3-0) past Marriotts Ridge, 35-10.
Howard quarterback Kevin Sheahin also paced the offense, completing 11 of his 15 pass attempts for 133 yards and two touchdowns: a 35-yard pass to Neil Caruso (3 catches, 53 yards) and a 25-yard pass to Malik Anderson (2 catches, 34 yards). Anderson also had more than 200 return yards.
Nick Sala scored four of Marriotts Ridge's 10 points, on a 34-yard field goal and an extra point after a 10-yard touchdown run by Austin Dorsey.
Ho (3-0) - 7 14 7 7 - 35
MR (1-2) - 0 3 0 7 - 10
Ho: Malik Anderson 25 pass from Sheahin (Travisano kick).
Ho: Charles 27 run (Travisano kick).
MR: Sala 34 field goal.
Ho: Caruso 35 pass from Sheahin (Travisano kick).
Ho: Charles 2 run (Travisano kick).
MR: Dorsey 10 run (Sala kick).
Ho: Charles 30 run (Travisano kick).