Last season, River Hill defeated Eastern Tech in a hard-fought, close game to win the Class 2A state championship and prove it was the best team in its classification. This year, the Hawks left no doubt.
Quarterback Luke Hostetler threw two touchdown passes and Michael Campanaro added two interceptions as the Hawks again defeated the Mavericks, 31-6, to win their second consecutive state title.
"I think we played one of our best games today," River Hill coach Brian VanDeusen said. "Most of our seniors are finishing their high school careers 48-0, and the ones who played on the varsity as sophomores are 51-1. That's pretty amazing."
Malek Redd led the No. 1 Hawks (14-0) with 65 yards on 19 carries. Darian Connors led Eastern Tech (13-1) with 82 yards on 17 carries.
The last time the Hawks lost was in the 2006 state championship game, when Friendly of Prince George's County defeated them, 37-18.
The Hawks scored on their second possession, going 52 yards on 10 plays - capped by Leron Eaddy's 3-yard run - to take a 7-0 lead on the last play of the first quarter.
After holding the Mavericks to 17 yards on their next possession, River Hill extended the lead to 10-0 when Scott Trench kicked a 27-yard field goal with 3:57 left in the first half. It was just his second career attempt in high school.
"That was big," VanDeusen said. "They [scored on us] early last year, so our goal was to get on top early and stay on top. Then the field goal put us up by two scores, and that was even bigger."
River Hill put the game away on its first possession of the second half. Taking over at their 38-yard line, the Hawks used two runs to move the ball to midfield. Then Hostetler went to work.
After faking a run, Hostetler found Redd open at the 22 and hit him in stride with a beautiful pass. After the catch, Redd ran into the end zone untouched to run the lead to 17-0 with 8:52 left in the third quarter.
"It was the same play we ran against them last year for a touchdown," Hostetler said.
Campanaro, who played only on defense because of a hamstring injury, added more excitement late in the third quarter. The senior intercepted Eastern Tech quarterback Joe Jones on two consecutive possessions, setting up a touchdown with the first and scoring the touchdown on a 41-yard return on the second.
"I thought last week [when he injured the hamstring] was my last high school game," said Campanaro, who is bound for Wake Forest next year. "I dreamed last night that I'd score a touchdown, but it was harder in reality. I was pushing my hamstring during the return, and it was hurting."
For Eastern Tech, which scored its only touchdown on Emmanuel Gbor's 5-yard run on the last play of the game, the loss was another disappointment.
"We had our chances, but we didn't take advantage of them" Mavericks coach Marc Mesaros said. "We made some key mistakes, and you can't do that with River Hill because they will take advantage of them. We just couldn't get anything going."