Two weeks ago, after yet another deflating home loss, Francis Scott Key football coach Dave Smith met his players for the weekly post-game huddle.
Smith bestowed the most inspirational message he could muster for a team that had just lost its 17th straight game. He told the quiet players they had 14 days to maximize their opportunity and make the most of their season.
Consider this, opportunity maximized.
Senior running back CJ Goon rushed for 138 yards and three touchdowns and senior receiver Jordan Bosley had eight catches for 131 yards in Francis Scott Key's 56-27 win over Winters Mill on Friday night.
After starting the season 0-7, the Eagles finished with two decisive victories against county rivals. FSK's win over North Carroll last week ended a losing streak that encompassed nearly two full seasons.
"When you are constantly coming up short on the scoreboard, it can get to you mentally and in all aspects of the game," said senior Corey Hood, who had three receiving touchdowns and an interception return for a touchdown. "Last week was a huge step for the program."
The Eagles reached another milestone against Winters Mill.
This win marks the first Eagles (2-7, 1-5 county) winning streak since 2007. It was also FSK's first home win this season, which explained the euphoric post-game scene.
The student section rushed onto the field from their end zone seats with two students carrying American flags. They met ecstatic FSK players at midfield, who hollered and screamed for 10 minutes after the game ended.
"We knew we had the ability," senior quarterback Camden Cregger said. "We just haven't played to our full potential until now."
FSK players taped audio farewells that played during Senior Night introductions. Several players said beating North Carroll was the highlight of their football careers.
Cregger took it one step further. In the Senior Night interview taped long before the game started, Cregger said the highlight of his career would be winning the final two games of his career. In essence, he called his shot.
"We believed," he said.
Cregger threw for 225 yards, threw two touchdowns and rushed for another. Hood had five catches for 89 yards and three touchdowns. His final play was the interception return for a touchdown with just 30 seconds remaining.
"Just an amazing feeling," he said of sprinting into the end zone while the home crowd stood and cheered.
The Eagles' defense got a stand late. With Winters Mill (1-9, 0-6 county) driving in the fourth quarter, FSK halted the drive just before the goal line. Senior Derrick Harvey stopped backup Winters Mill quarterback Jason Morris for a seven-yard loss on fourth-and-goal.
Senior lineman Jon Milstreed had two sacks and disrupted several other plays.
Winters Mill led for most of the first half, sparked by two rushing touchdowns from senior quarterback Patrick Brown, who left the game in the fourth quarter with a lower body injury and did not return.
Winters Mill led 27-21 at halftime, with both teams unable to get defensive stops.
FSK shut out Winters Mill in the second half. And the touchdowns just kept coming. FSK scored 35 unanswered points in the second half.
Eagles coach Dave Smith and his staff preached to his players all season long about trust. And in the end, the Eagles were able to believe in one another and accomplish feats no other team had in eight years.
"They trusted themselves and they trusted in each other," Smith said. "That is something that is so lacking in our country. They learned to fight for each other, and that is a powerful thing."