Francis Scott Key's football program has a different practice regimen for each day of the week leading up to playing under the Friday night lights.
Each session focuses on a different identity for that practice, and Eagles coach Josh Rutter said it's all a part of building a better football program. It's working so far — FSK is 2-0 for the first time in 14 years.
"Last year was kind of us feeling each other out and I think they're used to that now and they understand what we expect of them as coaches," Rutter said. "In addition with the success now they see the things we're trying to put in place are carrying over and they've bought in to everything we're building. We're on the verge of experiencing some success now and these guys understand what it takes to win. They're competing at a really high level in practice and we've played all 25 through the first two games."
The Eagles defeated North East of Cecil County 39-7 in Week 1 and the Indians' lone score came with 1:28 remaining in the game. The team traveled to Berkeley Springs in West Virginia the next week and came away with a 51-28 victory. Team captain and 2016 Times first team all-countian Nate Imes rushed had 12 carries for 172 yards and three touchdowns.
Imes is the Eagles' rushing leader (23 carries, 292 yards, six scores) and also leads the team with 17 tackles.
"Coming in, he's got a bull's-eye on him," Rutter said. "He had such a dynamic year as a junior and he's right around 300 yards through two games. Steven Keeney is sort of like a Swiss Army knife for us at quarterback, punts, and kicks. He played linebacker last week and returned a punt for a touchdown."
Keeney has three carries for 26 yards and 15 tackles. Kane Richardson, another Times first team all-county pick in 2016, is second with 16 tackles.
The Eagles travel to Patterson Mill this week where they hope to improve to 3-0 before opening county play at Century on Sept. 22.
Meanwhile, Westminster makes a second trip to Frederick County this season when they face five-time Class 3A state champion Linganore on Friday.
This week's Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association point standings have the Owls in first place in 3A West with 8.5 points — regional foes Linganore (7.0), Tuscarora (7.0), and South Hagerstown (4.5) round out the top four. Owls coach Matt Study said he stresses the same message to his players every week, to perform at the best of their ability no matter the opponent.
The Owls will open county play next week with games against Urbana, South Hagerstown, and Linganore under their belts. They'll look to improve to 3-0 when they head to New Market tonight.
"It's that kind of mindset we stressed in 7-on-7's," Study said. "We played Franklin, Milford Mill, the best of the best and that's what we do here. I want our guys to understand that this is what they work for year-round in the weight room. If they want to have the expectation of going deep and being the team they want to be, then they need to play that type of competition."
Numbers wise, the Owls have a smaller group this year, Study, the third-year head coach said. He's seen the way his team can perform, but he has yet to see it this season. That's what excites him and his coaching staff the most, the notion that the ceiling has yet to be reached.
It's what drives them and makes them hungry for success.
"There was improvement from the Urbana game and from South Hagerstown that we saw, they're getting better each week," Study said. "The season is still young, but the boys have had a great week of practice and the expectations couldn't be any higher for tomorrow night. What else could you ask for to play at Linganore against the favorite to win the state title? We couldn't ask for a better setting."
Winters Mill is the other county team going to a 3-0 start. The Falcons host Poolesville (1-1) in Westminster on Friday night.
Liberty (1-1) visits Williamsport (2-0) on Friday at 7, while Manchester Valley (1-1) visits Southern of Anne Arundel County (0-2) at 6:30. Century and South Carroll are out for their first win. The Knights visit North Hagerstown (1-1) while the Cavaliers go to South Hagerstown (1-1), both on Friday at 7.