Glen Burnie coach Eric Woodson admits he’s not much of a dancer, but he took a spin on the dance floor at homecoming Saturday night to fulfill a promise he made to his team.
Last Monday, the Gophers were 0-4 and, with all of the predicted rain, Woodson knew they were likely to see their Friday homecoming festivities, including the pep rally, washed away. To lift his team's spirits, the coach told the Gophers that if they beat South River Friday night, he would dance at homecoming.
The Gophers won, 24-13, so Woodson danced.
“I sure did,” he said with a laugh. “I held up my end of the bargain. I went down there last night and I cut a rug.”
Woodson, however, refused to get out there alone.
“I told them if I go on the dance floor that my linemen were coming out there with me. If I’m going to be embarrassed then my linemen will be embarrassed, too, because we all can’t dance. I had the big guys out there with me, I had my fullback out there with me and we had a ball. They took video which I haven’t seen yet but I know it’s probably going to go viral. It was all in good fun. The kids were excited. I knew if I didn’t go and do it, I probably would have lost them, so I went down there and I did my little boogie. How it looks, I couldn’t even tell you.”
After the team struggled for the past few weeks, especially after a knee injury sidelined top running back Taylor Johnson, Woodson said it was a great way to celebrate homecoming.
"This is my third homecoming down here and we lost the first two," he said. "I told them (last week), 'What makes the homecoming dance really nice is when you win the game. You haven't experienced that because you haven't won. The dance is much better if we win the game.'"
After falling by lopsided scores to No. 8 Arundel and No. 2 Old Mill the first two weeks of the season, the Gophers felt they had let the past two games get away from them -- a 7-6 loss to Severna Park and a 38-24 loss to Chesapeake.
The Gophers fell behind South River early, but Woodson said the team showed more confidence. It sure helped to have Johnson back in the lineup.
The senior suffered a strained medial collateral ligament in the Gophers' season opener Sept. 4 against Arundel and had to sit out the next three games, but he returned Friday night and carried the ball 11 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns.
Against Arundel, Johnson ran for 241 yards and three touchdowns before spraining his knee on the defensive end, taking a hit while trying to make a tackle.
“Everything just kind of flashed before my eyes, because everything runs through him,” Woodson said.
With Johnson’s return, the Gophers have a full contingent of ball carriers, including speedy Dami Adekunjo who ran 26 times for 168 yards and two touchdowns against South River. Fullback Greg Avent also ran for 52 yards and back-up fullback Dayton Nalley had a key 7-yard run in the final seconds of the game on third-and-5, giving the Gophers the first down they needed to run out the clock.
Woodson, in his third season with the Gophers, said the program hasn't had a winning season since the early 1990s, but they’re aiming for 6-4, one better than last season’s .500 record.
“We didn’t start the season well, but we’re still fighting,” he said. “If we can win out these last five games, I will dance every week.”