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A few more pass completions, a couple more rushing yards or a few less yards allowed and the Huntingtown football team might have put an exclamation point on a terrific season with a Class 3A state championship.

But River Hill, the 3A East Region champions from Howard County, had other plans and came from behind to secure an 18-14 win at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

“It was a great high school football game, a great high school football atmosphere and all day at school it was electric,” said Huntingtown first-year head coach Brendan Galligan afterwards. He led the Hurricanes to an overall mark of 12-2. “I wish we could have brought back a bigger trophy [than the smaller runner-up award] for them, but I’m proud of these guys.”

The Hurricanes rode a pair of rushing touchdowns from Arnez Bowens to a 14-6 halftime lead, but the Hawks rallied in the second half, despite a last-second drive by Huntingtown.

“When you have good players, when you have good coaches and when you have good community support it makes life really easy and especially this group right here, the seniors, they did everything we asked them to do,” Galligan said afterwards. “That’s the part that really hurts me the most, that we can’t go out as state champs. That hurts but they did everything it took, I’m really proud of these guys, I love these guys.”

The Hurricanes were hoping to become just the second Calvert County team to bring a state championship back home.

Under Galligan a former assistant to head coach Jerry Franks, who took the St. Mary’s Ryken head coaching job Huntingtown won its first seven games of the season before a 14-7 loss to Westlake on Oct. 19.

But the Hurricanes bounced back and won the next five the last two in the regular season and against playoff opponents Westlake, Friendly of Prince George’s County and Millford Mill Academy of Baltimore County in the playoffs before the loss to River Hill. Huntingtown has been to the playoffs the past six seasons.

“I’m just really proud of our guys,” Galligan said after the state final loss. “You talk about our effort, and every single guy up here [on the postgame podium] said it, ‘It’s not about ability it’s about how much you’re willing to empty your bucket and how much you’re willing to give. And they’ve been great, they’ve given us everything.”

The Hurricanes later landed four players special teamer Colton Rowe, lineman Riley Cannon, running back Arnez Bowens and receiver Bryan Rawlings on the All-SMAC squad.

“At Huntingtown High School, we’ve won a lot the last few years, but we aren’t getting state recognition,” Galligan said after the state final. “I wanted the recognition for these kids, this team to get over the hump and unfortunately we didn’t do it, but we’ll bounce back. We’ll bounce back, I guarantee you that.”

MICHAEL REID