Carroll County’s two new high school football coaches came away from Week 1 with similar feelings.
Friday night in Uniontown, Will Thompson made his debut as Francis Scott Key’s coach and had the Eagles primed to knock off Baltimore Polytechnic. But the Engineers overcame a 16-0 deficit and escaped with a 34-31 win. Thompson’s team faced the first of four Class 3A opponents this fall in Poly, and the matchup itself came together about 48 hours before kickoff.
Key was scheduled to face Mount Carmel, but the private school decided to postpone the game because it didn’t have enough players to field a full team. Thoughts of rescheduling went away when school officials found Poly was also in need of a Week 1 game.
“The biggest thing is just continuing to battle adversity, work through difficult situations,” Thompson said. “Baltimore Poly ... two classes more than us, they have different type of horses than we do. We told our kids that, we understood, and we battled the best that we could. I’m very, very proud.”
Francis Scott Key’s Wing-T offense worked well early on, with more than a handful of ball carriers churning out yardage. Poly made defensive adjustments, though, and got back into the game with a solid passing attack.
“Sustaining [the lead] is going to be the biggest thing,” Thompson said. “I’m an emotional coach. I get too high, but I won’t get too low. But I think with our kids, just trying to stay the even keel. Which we did, but [Poly] ... they have players too.”
The Eagles got rushing touchdowns from senior quarterback Reese Sauter, and sophomore backs Ryan Rill and Bryce Zepp. Sauter also tossed a scoring pass to senior receiver Ryan Bennett. Zepp’s score gave FSK a 24-12 lead midway through the third quarter — Bennett helped set up the Eagles’ possession with an interception — but Poly outscored the home team 22-7 the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, Westminster suffered a 42-20 defeat against South River at Ruby Field in Chris Bassler’s first game at the helm. Bassler said after the game costly penalties kept the Owls from finding their rhythm, but those things can be corrected.
“We’ve got to look at ourselves in the mirror and be more disciplined,” Bassler said. “That’s something we need to hold ourselves accountable in practice and get cleaned up this week.”
The Owls took an early 7-0 lead, thanks to a 3-yard run from Nate Mattingly, but the Seahawks responded quickly to pick up a 21-14 lead at the half. Mattingly notched 60 yards of offense and a touchdown, and senior Evan Warren kicked two long field goals (35, 42 yards) in the third quarter.
Penalties and mistakes put Westminster in a first-half hole too big to overcome, however.
“We were just out of rhythm,” Bassler said. “It was just one of those things where the mistakes compounded themselves in the end. You can’t do that and beat a good football team, and they’re a good football team.”
Manchester Valley was the lone Carroll squad to come out victorious in Week 1 when the Mavericks defeated host Williamsport 21-9 on Friday. The Mavs scored the final three touchdowns to overcome the Wildcats, and Josh Chanaud had a big night.
The senior had two touchdowns, one on a jet sweep for 60-plus yards and another on an interception return. Chanaud had two INTs for the Mavericks, and senior quarterback Garrett Deltuva added a touchdown run.
Winters Mill fell behind Fallston by 21 points, but scored three touchdowns to tie Fallston the game before the Cougars prevailed in overtime, 29-28. The Falcons got two receiving touchdowns from junior Cam Vogel, one from junior Andrew Buzzeo, and a rushing score from senior quarterback Matheo Cuenca.
Century hosted Dundalk in its season opener Friday night, but lost to the Owls 33-10. The Knights got a rushing touchdown from junior Landon Bruce, and field goal from senior Kevin Hackett.
South Carroll’s game against host C. Milton Wright was suspended during the first half Friday because of a player injury. The game is set to resume on Monday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. The Cavaliers’ Week 2 game at Bel Air is being moved to Saturday, Sept. 14.