In the moments following Huntingtown’s 45-6 season-opening win at Thomas Stone on Friday night, Jack Rosnage reflected on the job he and his teammates did on the defensive side of the ball.
“As a defense we like to think it’s the backbone of the team,” the senior defensive lineman said. “We like to support our offense as much as we can. I think there is still stuff to improve on. But for a first game I think it was phenomenal.”
That the Hurricanes’ defense delivered a strong performance would be of little surprise. A season ago, the team shut out six opponents and surrendered 10 or more points just twice — one to eventual Class 4A state runner-up North Point and the other to eventual 3A state champion Franklin of Baltimore County. At Stone on Friday, Huntingtown forced four turnovers and generally harassed Stone for much of the night.
It did take Huntingtown (1-0) a bit to take control on the scoreboard, with Trent Connolly’s 41-yard touchdown pass to Josh Stokes finally breaking the ice with 3 minutes 51 seconds remaining in the opening quarter. But following that initial score the Hurricanes added to their total frequently, taking a 17-0 lead to the half and building the advantage to 31-0 before Stone (0-1) finally scored early in the fourth quarter to avoid being shut out.
“Once we got things going, we were fine,”Huntingtown head coach Paul Friel said, “but we shot ourselves in the foot a lot early. Penalties, being out of position, just foolish stuff that we did last week [in a scrimmage against Westlake], too. I thought we cleaned it all up. I don’t know what the deal was, but once we got rolling, we did well.”
On the initial touchdown, Stokes bobbled the pass from Connolly several times before finally securing the ball and striding into the end zone. Stokes finished the game with over 100 yards from scrimmage, exceeding 50 yards both rushing and receiving.
“We looked good,” he said. “We were kind of sloppy here and there, had some mistakes, but we powered through it.”
A fumble recovery by Chad Connolly inside the Stone 10-yard line set Huntingtown up for its next score early in the second quarter. Trent Connolly capped the short, two-play series with a 1-yard touchdown plunge, extending the Hurricanes’ lead to 14-0 with Bryce LaFollette’s successful point-after. LaFollette tacked on a 23-yard field goal in the latter stages of the half to give the visitors a 17-0 lead at the half.
Huntingtown’s defense opened the scoring in the second half, as Cam Dalrymple intercepted a Quinnel Booth pass just across midfield and took it back the distance for a quick touchdown just over three minutes into the half. After the Hurricanes’ defense forced a quick three-and-out the ensuing possession, Huntingtown drove 53 yards for another score, this time with Noah Kuntz taking the ball into the end zone on a 29-yard run to further extend the advantage to 31-0 with 2:38 left in the period.
Stone got on the board early in the fourth quarter. After taking possession near midfield following a fumble recovery, Daevaughn Shephard ended Huntingtown’s shutout bid with a 50-yard touchdown sprint, cutting the deficit to 31-6 following a missed extra point.
The visitors responded with a three-play scoring drive, with Clay Wargo doing the honors on a 14-yard run. And later, Austin Welch capped an eight-play drive with a 4-yard touchdown run to cap the scoring with just less than three minutes remaining.
In all, Huntingtown rolled up over 400 yards of total offense, churning out close to 300 on the ground, while Trent Connolly passed for 116. Kuntz rushed for 116 yards to pace the ground attack, while four different players rushed for at least 40 for the Hurricanes.
It was a solid, if not perfect, start for a Huntingtown team that reached the 3A state semifinals a season ago. The Hurricanes will look to win a second straight game with their scheduled home game against Patuxent at 7 on Friday. The Panthers (0-1) fell 31-21 to Harford Tech in Week 1.
“We just need to keep stepping up, keep working, never get comfortable,” Friel said. “We have to clean up the mistakes that we made and we have to get in a little better shape. We had a lot of guys cramping and that can’t happen, not in big games. We’re going to address that right away and I told them to be ready for it.
“Other than that, if we tighten all that up and don’t get the penalties — a couple big plays were brought back on penalties and it was just foolish. We can’t do that. But it’s hard to not be happy with a win like this. We did a lot of good things. It’s just we won’t be able to afford [the mistakes] down the road.”
Stone is scheduled to travel to Leonardtown (0-1 after a 35-0 loss to Calvert in Week 1) for a 6 p.m. kickoff Friday. First-year Cougars head coach Riley Cannon, a Huntingtown graduate, was proud of the effort his team put forth against the Hurricanes.
“I thought that my guys fought hard to the end,” Cannon said. “At no point did they quit or get down, so I was pleased with the effort all around. We knew Huntingtown would be a good football team, and a tough test week one. We will clean up our mistakes and prepare for Leonardtown next week.”