Will Thompson brought with him from Virginia a tradition he has used in each of his first two seasons as Francis Scott Key’s football coach.
At the end of the final game, the Eagles create a tunnel of teammates for the seniors on the squad, who walk down the line until they meet Thompson. Their coach gets on one knee and unties their shoes, takes them off and hands them to his senior, who then tosses the cleats skyward amid a rousing cheer.
Key has four seniors on this year’s team, so the ceremony Friday was much quicker than the one that ended the 2019 season. This one was also different in that it took place following a win.
The Eagles put together their first victory of this modified fall season by turning away Century 19-8 behind a solid defensive performance and a long touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
Francis Scott Key (1-5) stopped Century near its own goal line with a little less than 8 minutes to play, and two plays later junior Nick Diehl took a hand-off around right end with open field in front of him along the home team’s sideline. He raced 95 yards for a touchdown to give the Eagles a six-point lead, and Ryan Rill’s two-point conversion run made it 16-8 with 7:06 remaining.
“This week we just practiced our ass off, and we played for our seniors,” Diehl said. “We wanted them to go out with a bang.”
Century (1-4) had success running the ball, led by Landon Bruce, Dereik Crosby, and Erik Harrell. The trio collected more than 200 rushing yards, but only Bruce found the end zone with a 1-yard plunge late in the first quarter. FSK’s defense held just enough against a Knights team that had only 19 players available Friday night.
Junior lineman Cam Demski, listed at 6-foot-4 and 350 pounds, came up with the big tackle on fourth down to set up Diehl’s touchdown. Junior defensive back Austin Schemm recovered a fumble near midfield with 4:28 remaining, which the Eagles turned into a time-consuming drive that ended with a Keith LaPierre 21-yard field goal.
And Jaeden Heiser, another junior defensive back, snagged an interception in the final seconds to seal the win. Heiser also had a 24-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Jarren Rutter in the second quarter.
“We battled every game, to be honest with you,” Thompson said. “We’ve been neck-and-neck in a lot of games ... we’ve got a lot of guys coming back, so just continuing to get better, take it for what it’s worth, and build off of it.”
The Eagles’ ground game was held down by Century’s defense, led by seniors Bruce and Austin Curlett in the middle, and senior Jacob Kidd on the line. But Diehl broke free when he used his speed to get behind defenders and into open space after finding the hole in the Knights’ line.
“I saw daylight and I was like, ‘No one’s catching me,’” Diehl said. “That’s what I thought. I was going for the touchdown, that’s all I was thinking about. I was gassed.”
C-Landon Bruce 1 run (Cole Avery pass from Gavin Batts)
FSK-Jaeden Heiser 24 pass from Jarren Rutter (Heiser pass from Rutter)