When Thomas Stone High School first-year head football coach Riley Cannon played on the gridiron in high school at Huntingtown, one of his last games as a player his senior season was against Stone and then-head coach, Paul Friel.
Now over six years later, Cannon’s first game as a head football coach will be on Friday night at Stone against his alma mater as the Cougars welcome Friel and the Hurricanes, the reigning Class 3A South Region champions.
“Coach Friel is a great coach and he runs a tremendous program over there at Huntingtown,” said Cannon, who took over from Danny Ripple after he went 17-15 in three seasons at the Cougars’ helm before heading to Southern of Anne Arundel County this season. “This game is definitely going to present a challenge for us. I’m not really nervous, but definitely anxious to get things started. We have 12 seniors on the team who have done a great job with the younger guys and my coaching staff has been really dedicated and supportive.”
Stone senior Jaden Ferriera, who will get plenty of action on both sides of the line of scrimmage this fall with the Cougars as a wide receiver and defensive back, is looking forward to tonight’s home opener — kickoff is at 7 p.m. — and the remaining portion of the SMAC league slate, as well as the possibility of several playoff games thereafter.
“It’s always exciting to run out on the field opening night,” Ferriera said. “It’s time to get the season started. We’ve been working hard in practice and we had some good summer workouts. We definitely want to make it to playoffs this year. Our ultimate goal is to win states.”
Feirriera is one of several Cougars seniors who will see time on both sides of the ball this fall. Ronnell Carter is competing with Quinnel Booth for the starting quarterback spot and Carter will also play free safety. Kire Hines will get action at wide receiver and free safety, while Rashad Jackson will play wide receiver, safety and assume the role of placekicker.
Khalil Ward (tight end/linebacker) and Justus Woods (offensive lineman/defensive lineman) will also play both ways, while linebacker Donovan Barnes will solidify the Cougars’ defense. Javien Taylor will play linebacker on defense then serve as the long snapper on special teams. Jackson actually has some big shoes to fill at kicker since Nicco Vargas handled those chores well the previous two seasons.
“The guys have been working really hard and we’re all ready to get the season started this week,” said Cannon, whose team will travel to Leonardtown in the season’s second week. “Huntingtown is a really good team, so that’s our focus right now.”