Defense and depth were on display on July 18 when the Arbutus Big Red semipro team opened the Mason Dixon Football League home schedule with a 26-0 victory over the DMV Jaguars at Arbutus Middle School.
Interceptions by Neal Curtis – an 80-yard touchdown return – and Mark Johnson – a 35-yard TD – drew attention, but it was the defensive line that drew praise from coach Ulander Giles.
"Our defense is outstanding every year, but it starts with our front four," said Giles, who singled out Michael Geengold, Kelvin Santiful, Lamont Long and Kenneth Mayes. "Our linebackers are good and our corners are good, but that front four puts so much pressure on the quarterback, it makes everybody else's job easy. Our team wins and success starts with those four on the defensive line."
Arbutus resident Brendon Twilley returned at linebacker against the Jaguars after missing the season-opening 10-6 win on the road over the Baltimore Broncos on July 11.
"We are so deep at linebacker, he ended up playing defensive end because he is so versatile," said Giles of the Mount St. Joseph graduate.
Against the Jaguars, 2009 Catonsville High graduate Brian Chapman also came up big as the 5-foot-4, 205-pound running back rushed for 85 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown.
"He is still tearing it up," Giles said.
Chapman is joined on the offense by 2012 Catonsville High graduate and wide receiver Sean Lipscomb, who didn't have any catches against the Jaguars but did make a big tackle on special teams.
New quarterback Kevin Ford completed 19 of 22 passes with touchdowns to Jason Goode (50 yards) and James Lowe (35 yards).
Goode, a Woodlawn High graduate, had brief stints in the National Football League in 2008 with the Washington Redskins and in 2009 with the Carolina Panthers, but he never played an NFL regular-season game.
He did have the game-winning touchdown catch for the Redskins in a 13-10 win over the New York Jets in a preseason game.
Running back Rafael Cooper also had a taste of the NFL, playing in five games and rushing for 57 yards on 12 carries for the Detroit Lions in 2002.
With a 2-0 record, Arbutus is in first place in the Mason Dixon Football League North Division. Giles likes his team's chances of a second straight conference title.
"We have depth everywhere. If one or two guys are out hurt, it really doesn't hurt us that bad," said Giles, whose 2014 conference champions went 10-4 and lost in the Mason Dixon League semifinals.
This year's road in the postseason could get bumpier because there are 16 teams in the league, which is up from 12 last season.
Arbutus goes back on the road on July 25 to Lancaster, Pa., to play the Ghost Riders.
The Big Red will return home on Aug. 1 against the Baltimore Broncos at 7 p.m. at Arbutus Middle School.
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Arbutus has home games against the Ghost Riders on Aug. 22, Fredericksburg Bears on Sept. 12 and Virginia Titans on Sept. 26.