After a winless year in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association's A Conference, St. Mary's hoped a drop into the B league this fall would yield more success.
But the Saints (3-1, 0-1) got a rude welcome in yesterday's conference opener, a 28-0 loss at St. Paul's (2-1, 1-0), which rolled up 319 of its 393 yards the first half, 198 of that on the ground.
Brenden Gill completed four of 10 passes for 121 yards, with scoring passes of 55 and 39 yards, respectively, to Walter Hill and Grant Halford. Hill finished with three receptions for 82 yards and Halford also scored twice on 62 rushing yards.
Gordon Tarola, Jesse Swartz, Scott Boyle, Brian McGettigan and Adam Goloboski added to the balanced running attack, with no one having more than 47 yards.
"We know people are going to key on Grant and Walter, so it's important to be balanced, which is situation we haven't had in the past," said St. Paul's coach Brian Abbott.
Hill was the spark, hauling in Gill's toss on the game's first play. The effort had the Saints facing their first deficit of the year, after having blown out their previous opponents by a combined 104-7.
Twice in St. Paul's territory St. Mary's was stopped short on fourth-and-one situations. Rick Mason and Kris Kogelschatz combined for one of those stops.
"We come in 3-0, feeling pretty good about ourselves, but they make that first play and all of a sudden, our kids are questioning themselves a little bit," said Saints coach Mike Codd. "They just lined up and drilled us on both sides of the ball. They gave us a whipping."
With his back to the goal after eluding two tacklers, Gill turned and lofted an underthrown scoring pass for which Halford had to fight his way past a defender to retrieve. Halford's catch, 6:40 before halftime, capped a five-play, 91-yard drive that included Halford's 49-yard run off a pitch from Gill and made the score 21-0.
Halford's 2-yard run 32 seconds before the half completed a 10-play, 54-yard march for a 28-0 lead. Halford also had an interception, as did Tarola, Conkling and Shel Simon.
"I'm just out here going crazy, baby," Halford said. "When I do that, it's hard to stop me, know what I'm saying?"
That's a message the Saints heard loud and clear.