Often times, stats don’t tell the whole story. For River Hill, the stats definitely don’t lie through two weeks.
The 2-0 Hawks have outscored Atholton and Mt. Hebron 95 to 15 despite passing for just 56 yards thanks to the four-headed rushing attack of Anthony Behrmann, Maryland commit Beau Brade, Zach Igwebe and Michael Crisitello. The quartet has combined for 743 of the team’s 809 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
Each have at least 127 yards and are averaging more than six yards per carry — Behrmann and Brade are averaging more than 12.5 — and they have all scored at least once. Most surprising is that they’ve done it on just 79 combined carries with Behrmann leading the way with 22.
Highlights of River Hill football beating Atholton in a Howard County game on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019.
The key, according to River Hill coach Brian Van Deusen, has been on the other side of the ball.
“I think the big thing early on was our defense has been playing really well, so we’ve had a good amount of three-and-outs and we’re getting a lot of opportunities for the offense,” he said. “... Right now we’ve got four guys running the ball pretty well. We’ve got Derek Sandoval, whose coming back from injury, and he’s one of our better running backs as well.”
Van Deusen’s offense has two separate positions for players that often carry the ball. The “superback” lines up in the backfield with the quarterback while the “halfback” is in the slot and is utilized sometimes in motion. The original plan was to have Brade and Igwebe rotate at “superback,” but that was altered due to injuries.
They each play a specific role in the offense. Igwebe is the “big, inside guy” who breaks a lot of tackles; Brade and Anthony are shifty, have breakaway speed and are big-play threats with misdirection plays; and Crisitello can run inside and outside. Brade had two 65-yard runs against Mt. Hebron and Behrmann had several over 50.
The utilization of the running backs will be important to River Hill’s success later this season, as all four start on defense as well.
“It’s nice that they can kind of share the load offensively because they’re doing so much for us on the other side of the ball, especially Beau and Zach, our safety and middle linebacker that are in on almost every play,” Van Deusen said. “It’s nice that we can give them breaks offensively and not have to count on them for 20 or 25 carries a game.”
Oakland Mills bounces back
Oakland Mills coach Tom Browne admitted that some players after its 34-21 Week 1 loss to Hammond were “devastated.” Players on both teams know each other well having gone to middle school together, so it didn’t sit well that bragging rights went to the Golden Bears.
“They get really wrapped up in that game,” Browne said. “... We looked like we had never practiced before if you watched that game.”
Since they were “humbled,” Browne also said it was pretty easy to motivate his team last week in practice. It showed on Friday night, as the Scorpions gave up 49 yards of total offense and ran for 294 on offense in a 26-12 win at Atholton.
“We had to bounce back,” Browne said. “We got our bells rung against Hammond and to me as a coach, obviously I hate losing the game but I think it was a good reality check for us and had our kids really realize that they need to work their (butts) off it they want to win some games in this league.”
Browne shouldered much of the blame for the loss to Hammond. He said they were trying to do some new things and “it was probably a stretch on my part.”
“So we went back to basics and we’re doing some things that we finished last year doing, and I think the familiarity with that helps Kai (Castle),” he said. “Just like anybody else, you’re good at what you know, and I probably changed a little too many things and it was different for him and it was tough. We were way more balanced in our run game against Atholton.”
Against the Raiders, Castle looked more like the player that last year finished with 1,154 yards passing and ran for 971 yards rather than the guy who averaged just 2.17 yards per carry against Hammond. He totaled 192 of the Scorpions’ rushing yardage and was more efficient in his nine pass attempts, completing five for 25 yards.
The Scorpions’ 4-4 defense run by coordinator Jimmy Speake was up to the task, too. They allowed 25 yards passing and John Tatum, Devin Williams and Antoine Holmes — who also ran for 76 yards — each had interceptions. Williams returned his interception for a touchdown.
It was a key bounce-back performance for a team that had high hopes coming into the season. The Scorpions won seven games last year and earned the No. 4 seed in the 2A South region playoffs, and they expect to be in the playoffs again come November.