The Marriotts Ridge football team had been gradually growing up as it entered its second season of varsity action.
On Friday night, the Mustangs had a defining growth spurt, rallying for a 28-24 win over Hammond.
Trailing 24-16 going into the fourth quarter, the Mustangs closed to 24-22 on a 32-yard touchdown run by fullback Vince Testerman.
That set the stage for a character-building drive that started on the Mustangs' 20-yard line with 2:10 to play.
With all three timeouts, Marriotts Ridge methodically drove down the field before quarterback Kevin Seker found wide receiver Kyle Williams with a 25-yard gain that put the ball on the Bears' 5. With six seconds left, Seker rolled out and hit Kyle Feldman with a touchdown toss that gave the Mustangs a satisfying home-opening win.
"It shows they're starting to mature and really believe in themselves," said Marriotts Ridge coach Ken Hovet, whose Mustangs went 1-9 last season without a senior on the roster. "Last year, we got pushed around a little bit. The fact we had no seniors, we were just not quite as fast or strong as the teams we played. But the kids have been working hard in the weight room - adding some strength - and we're going to try to push back."
Seker had a solid opening game, at one point throwing nine straight completions in the first half. The Mustangs, who are trying to become more balanced on offense this fall after having a pass-oriented attack last season, had Derek Coleman run for more than 100 yards in Friday's win.
With 37 players on varsity, including nine seniors, and 50 out for the junior varsity, Hovet is seeing positive strides.
"It's something we can build on and something we can look back on and say: 'We've been down before, been there and we reacted well, so we can do it again,' " he said.
The Mustangs will go after their second win when they visit neighborhood rival Mount Hebron at 7 p.m. Friday. The Vikings opened their season with a 48-0 loss to county champion River Hill.
Scoring game-winning goals on the soccer field is nothing new to Centennial senior forward Alyssa Vorce. But last Wednesday's winner in a 2-1 road win at Institute of Notre Dame was indeed special.
What better way to open your senior season?
With four minutes left in the second overtime, Vorce took a pass from junior Molly Spandeven, and then beat two defenders before finding the left corner on a shot from 18 yards.
"It was a big blur," said Vorce, who scored nine goals last season, including a couple of game-winners. "It's a great feeling, especially in overtime because the team has worked so hard after playing two full halves. Once I got the pass, I just ran as fast as I could, and once the ball went in the net, it was a pretty good feeling for me and the team."
Centennial second-year coach Kristen McManus said the win was a valuable lesson the team can use down the road.
"It gives the girls a big sense of accomplishment. IND is a talented team and for us to come out and give that much energy, play 1100 percent through overtime is awesome," she said.
On Saturday, the Eagles defeated another solid Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference opponent, Seton Keough, 3-1, to reach the championship game of the Catonsville Invitational Tournament. But the host Comets took the title with a 2-0 win over the Eagles.
So far, so good
Chapelgate Christian Academy and Glenelg Country School are both off to fast starts in boys soccer.
After capturing a seven-team tournament in Lancaster, Pa., last month - coming away with six shutout wins - Chapelgate defeated Key School, 4-0; Reservoir, 3-1; and Long Reach, 3-2, Friday to take a 3-0 record into this week's play. Senior Jim Becker has provided much of the offense, with five goals and three assists.
The Yellowjackets will open conference play in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference on Tuesday when they face Beth Tfiloh.
Glenelg Country, which competes in the MIAA B Conference, took a 2-0 mark into yesterday's game against Annapolis Area Christian.
The Dragons overwhelmed Sts. Peter & Paul, 9-0, to open the season before knocking off Friends, 3-1, Thursday.
The McAuliffe brothers - senior forwards Kelson and Conner - have proven to be an unstoppable connection in the early going. Kelson went into the week with seven goals and one assist, while Conner has scored once and dished out six assists.