St. Mary’s senior quarterback Carson Petitbon felt emotion hitting him while screaming teammates swirled around. Some hugged, lifting each other into the air. Others crouched at the sideline, holding one another, tears swimming and smiles beaming. They celebrated juniors Teddy Androus and Palmer Austin hardest, as it was their forced fumble and recovery that put Concordia Prep down once and for all.
Petitbon swallowed back tears, just for a minute. His dream was so nearly complete — all he needed was a first down, and the Saints’ perfect season would end in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference title. Petitbon and the Saints closed out a 21-13 win over Concordia Prep, the team that ended their season in the semifinals one year ago.
This is why Petitbon chose to come home to the community that raised him.
“This was the best decision so far in my life,” Petitbon said. “To come back home and be with all the people I grew up with. The fact that this happened is mind-blowing. I’m so thankful to God, my family, everyone that supported me through this. I’m so happy.”
The moment that whistle blew, Saints streamed onto the field at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. This was theirs. For the first time since 2018, St. Mary’s brought the title “where it belonged,” the coaches said. It is St. Mary’s eighth overall and sixth in the B Conference.
“It’s crazy how much adversity we came over, and to finish it like that? I don’t think you can finish any better way,” senior offensive lineman Casey Cavanaugh said.
The Saints (12-0) felt just as grateful to have their son, Petitbon, back home. St. Mary’s coach Jason Budroni knew he could run, but when Petitbon started rolling through the first games this fall, the St. Mary’s coach realized just how elusive a runner he was. He entered the game with 15 rushing touchdowns, and every one of St. Mary’s on Friday belonged to him.
“He was the missing piece,” Budroni said, “on the whole team, especially on offense. We were missing one thing and he filled that gap.”
“He came in and took the reins. He’s our natural-born leader that we all lean on,” Androus said. “When the game goes up and when it goes down, we all turn to him.”
Early on, Petitbon lifted the game onto his back. He had to. Each of his two first-half touchdowns were answered by Concordia Prep, one from Keshawn Mister on a 62-yard catch, the other from Josh Derry. Derry raced to receive a 61-yard pass that was sailing behind him, but managed to make the touchdown grab with his pinky and ring fingers. However, a missed extra point attempt kept it a 14-13 St. Mary’s advantage.
Another field-gobbling 30-yard pass by Jordan Brooks sustained Concordia Prep on its next drive, but it ended when Brooks hit the ground, all of 6-foot Androus wrapped around him.
The two sides of Saints knew they’d be in for a battle, and so they went into halftime tangled in one another’s vicious grip, with St. Mary’s leading 14-13 at the half.
The third quarter ended in the same muggy fog of scorelessness — but the heat was rising.
If Concordia Prep wanted to wrench the pendulum its way, it needed a score on an early fourth-quarter drive. On fourth down, Brooks scampered to open ground, desperately seeking Mister, but St. Mary’s senior Nick Golini made sure the receiver wouldn’t make a catch.
Though most of the quarter still hung on the clock, St. Mary’s knew in the pit of its stomach that this was the time to reach glory or bend to their fiercest B Conference opponent.
Petitbon brought St. Mary’s as far as Concordia Prep’s 35, where the his team seemed to get logged up by the defense.
No, Petitbon thought. Not in his last game.
As multiple Concordia Prep linebackers worked to drag him down, the St. Mary’s senior ripped from the thicket, tearing out into the right-hand side. Concordia defenders disappeared in his wake. This was his moment. This touchdown would be his.
“They were all dropping into coverage,” Petitbon said. “If I made one guy miss, and ran up the field, we would have a big play.”
Petitbon closed 33 yards and then another 2. St. Mary’s jumped to the 21-13 lead it needed.
Brooks spurred his offense quickly downfield by run and pass. Concordia Prep moved quicker than the clock could.
In a flash, Androus made a play when needed, bringing the pile down — and jarring the ball loose. Austin scooped it up — and the St. Mary’s sideline erupted.
“Game over. It’s what we worked for all season,” Androus said. “Moments like that, you play it every other snap in the season. When that moment comes, you got to be ready for it. It’s unbelievable.”
When Budroni welcomed 78 boys to his program in August — an all-time high — he never expected this level of greatness.
And yet, there his undefeated team knelt before him one final time, gripping the MIAA B Conference plaque in their hands.
“We fought back,” Budroni said. “This team refuses to lose.”