Mount Hebron boys soccer coach Mike Linsemeyer had to do plenty of patchwork going into the season after the Vikings lost seven starters from last year's Class 3A state championship team.
One such area was in goal, where an unexpected and pleasant answer has been found.
Before this summer, senior Travis Kumar had never played soccer let alone spent any time in goal.
He ran cross country in past fall seasons, played basketball for Linsemeyer in the winter and ran track in the spring.
Kumar, who always wanted to give soccer a try, was getting tired of the rigors of cross country, and the soccer team had plenty of openings.
"He's just a great athlete, and we had a hole to fill in goal," Linsemeyer said. "And gosh, from the first day of practice, I knew he was the guy. We knew he was a tremendous athlete, so it was just a question of whether he would be scared or not playing that spot."
With the Vikings up a goal midway through the second half against county rival River Hill last week, Kumar quickly left his goal line to pounce on a potential through ball just as an opposing forward was bearing down.
The pivotal play was smart, decisive and aggressive. The Vikings, who went into the week with a 2-1-1 mark, went on to win, 2-1.
"The big key is just having my team be patient with me because I've never played before, and it's going pretty well. It's just a lot of hard work, and they've all helped as far as the technical aspects," Kumar said.
Kumar spent hours over the summer watching game videos with teammate Garrett Nickles, who walked him through different situations. With every practice, game and save, Kumar is getting more comfortable.
"The big thing now is judging my own capabilities because I haven't played very long," he said. "So if a ball is somewhere between the 6-yard line and the 18, it's hard for me to judge whether I'm quick enough to go get it."
Linsemeyer has been impressed.
"He's making great decisions, and to be honest, I wish I could take credit for the job he's doing in there, but he's just a natural keeper," Linsemeyer said.
In county football action, three teams - River Hill, Wilde Lake and Reservoir - will take 3-0 records into this weekend's play.
In River Hill's 35-0 win over Glenelg on Friday - the Hawks' third straight shutout - junior running back Michael Campanaro showed his dominance and versatility. He had touchdown runs of 2 and 23 yards, a 55-yard catch for a score, and he threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to Leron Eaddy. The Hawks will host Hammond at 7 p.m. Friday.
It was same old same old for Wilde Lake in its 45-12 win over previously undefeated Marriotts Ridge on Friday as the Wildecats ran for five touchdowns. A visit to Centennial at 7 p.m. Friday is next for Wilde Lake.
Reservoir, which was 4-6 last season, continues to be the surprise of the county after a 42-0 victory over Oakland Mills. Senior running back Robert While had touchdown runs of 5, 20 and 57 yards. The Gators will try to keep rolling at home against Howard at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Elsewhere, Hammond came away with a 43-7 win over Mount Hebron on Friday behind Kenyatta Drake's do-it-all performance. Drake had a 50-yard touchdown run, returned an interception 40 yards for another score and also threw for a two-point conversion.
Long throws have long been a weapon for River Hill soccer teams, and this year is no exception for the girls team.
Senior defender Amy Song has a throw that's direct and precise to the near post, giving opposing teams constant headaches. Going into this week, Song had four assists, including one that helped the Hawks to a 1-1 tie against Centennial on Thursday.
Song is the daughter of coach Brian Song. The last big thrower at River Hill was on the boys team - Matt Stara, a 2005 grad who was coached by his father, Bill.
The River Hill cross-country team is one of 10 county teams competing in Saturday's prestigious Bull Run Invitational at Hereford.
Senior Mike Feroe and junior Craig Morgan lead the Hawks' No. 2 boys team, while the girls, ranked fifth, lean on junior Katie Harman.
In all, 107 schools from the East Coast will compete, with the meet set to kick off at 9 a.m.
The Marriotts Ridge boys soccer team took a 3-0-2 record into this week after good results against state champions last week. On Sept. 18, Phil Martinelli scored to give the Mustangs a 1-0 victory over Class 2A state champion Hammond, and on Thursday, they battled last year's 3A state champion Mount Hebron to a 3-3 overtime tie.