Despite entering the night with just a single win this season, Washington County's Williamsport put up a dizzying array of numbers in Friday night's Ravens RISE High School Football Showdown.
The Wildcats racked up 444 yards of total offense, including 201 passing yards and two touchdowns by junior quarterback Lincoln Ball and 122 rushing yards and three scores by senior running back Bret Artz, taking the lead on their opening possession and never looking back in a 42-6 win over host Frederick.
In the midst of an otherwise disappointing season, the Wildcats proved they could learn from past mistakes.
“The last five weeks have been tough, but we've worked so hard to be resilient," Williamsport coach Tim Small said. "Tough times don't build character — they reveal it. I think, finally, they revealed who they are tonight. It was a great ballgame for a while, but finally we started taking advantage of some of those opportunities, and just took care of business in the end.”
Led by the big arm of 6-foot-5 Ball (8-for-14, 201 passing yards) and the constant pressure of a defensive line led by 300-pound Clemson-signee Tayquon Johnson, Williamsport beat Frederick for the fourth straight time, while also ending their five-game losing streak.
The Wildcats (2-5) entered the night having been outscored 202-91 since beating Manchester Valley in their opener.
They were more than ready to turn the page.
“We had probably one of the hardest first four or five games that we've ever had as a program," Ball said. "We just realized we had to band together. We know that this group that we have here, we may be small in numbers, but we play as hard as we can together. I felt like we were more prepared this week than any other week.”
Frederick (3-4), meanwhile, had its two-game winning streak halted. The Cadets have not won three straight since 2012, which also marked the last time they had more than three wins in a season.
Williamsport never trailed, taking the lead on the game's opening drive when Ball found speedy sophomore Jayden Gerringer n the corner of the endzone for a 30-yard touchdown.
After Deon Pierce's 50-yard kickoff return set up an 18-yard touchdown scramble by Frederick quarterback Kisaye Barnes, the Wildcats went right back to work. Led by Artz (18 carries for 122 yards), they drove deep into Frederick territory before Ball's forced throw was intercepted by defensive back Nate Osei in the endzone.
On its next possession, however, Williamsport again quickly moved the ball downfield, with Ball's 29-yard pass to Riley Wolfensberger setting up Artz's 4-yard scoring run, extending the lead to 13-6.
Frederick, meanwhile, could manage little on offense, managing just 64 yards on its final four possessions of the half. The Cadets had scored 98 points in its previous two games, against Smithsburg and Pennsylvania's James Buchanan.
“We just came in and tried to have as much fun as we could … play for each other," Johnson said. "We believe that each loss has a lesson to it. It brought us together as a unit to start playing for our team, our town, our country, instead of playing for ourselves.”
The Wildcats extended their lead to 19-6 when Ball floated a 42-yard pass to Wolfensberger, who had beaten his defender by three yards.
Artz, a 5-8, 165-pound back, added scoring runs of 33 and 6 yards in the second half, scooting through gaping holes opened by his offensive line and quickly turning the game into a rout.
Williamsport 13 6 16 7 — 42
Frederick 6 0 0 0 — 6
W — Gerringer 30 pass from Ball (Ball kick)
F — Barnes 18 run (kick failed)
W — Artz 4 run (kick failed)
W — Wolfensberger 42 pass from Ball (run failed)
W — Artz 33 run (Lyles run)
W — Artz 6 run (Johnson run)
W — Wagner 31 run (Ball kick)