The return of quarterback Colin Mathewson from injury is good news in an otherwise disappointing season for the West Potomac football team.
Mathewson was back on the practice field Monday, more than three weeks after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee against Chantilly. The Wolverines were 0-3 in his absence, producing a total of 42 points.
"He knows the offense best," head coach Eric Henderson said. "He came in [Tuesday] and threw the ball all over the place. He was able to deliver it on time, the receivers are in sync with him, he worked with everybody over the summer and the spring.
"It’s nice to have your starter back."
Mathewson returns in time to face Robert E. Lee (5-1), which lost its first game of the season last weekend against Lake Braddock. The senior said watching from the sideline has had its ups and downs.
"I [got] a different perspective of the game," Mathewson said. "I [got] the perspective as a coach, basically. It helped a lot. [Tuesday] was probably the best practice I had all year.
"It’s tough at the end of the game when I just wanted to get out there and bring the team back and win the game, but there’s nothing I can do. It’s hard just standing there, watching it all happen."
MATHEWSON’S RETURN does not guarantee success for the Wolverines. Even when Mathewson was healthy, the offense was inconsistent. West Potomac scored a season-high 42 points in its opener against Mount Vernon, but followed with 14 against Westfield. West Potomac scored seven points against Chantilly, the game Mathewson was hurt.
Still, the numbers Mathewson posted in the first two games of the season should provide hope to the 1-5 Wolverines. He completed 17 of 28 passes for 295 yards and four touchdowns against Mount Vernon. He was 16 of 30 for 191 yards and two touchdowns, while throwing one interception against Westfield.
The senior was 3 of 10 for 25 yards before leaving the Chantilly game.
Mathewson is one of several key Wolverine players to suffer an injury this season. West Potomac has been without standout receiver Will Rosenkranz for the whole year after he suffered a knee injury during a scrimmage. The injury situation came to a head at the quarterback situation last week during the Wolverines’ 42-7 loss to Woodson.
Nik Dimitrijevic, who took over when Mathewson hurt his knee, tore muscles in the thumb on his throwing (right) hand early in the Woodson game. Adding to the bad news for West Potomac, the third-string quarterback was suspended and the fourth-stringer was out with a concussion.
Henderson used receiver Shawn Lee at quarterback for the remainder of the first half before turning to sophomore Charles Ruiz.
"I’ve never seen anything like this season," Henderson said. "We must have had a dozen concussions, broken thumbs, ribs, hips; people are just dropping like flies. … [Dimitrijevic] couldn’t control the ball [after his thumb injury]. We’re a throwing offense. If the quarterback can’t control the ball, that kind of destroys it."
Henderson said Ruiz suffered a concussion earlier in the season.
"I didn’t want to throw him in at the second quarter and just say, ‘Try and win the game,’" Henderson said. "I just wanted to get him mentally prepared. We used Shawn as a spot quarterback. … Who expects to work on their fifth-string quarterback? That’s not an excuse, kids have to perform. You’ve got to start changing things and doing things that the kids can handle instead of going with your plan. You’ve got to adjust on the fly.
"It’s been a wild, wild year."
ON THE DEFENSIVE SIDE, sophomore Kofi Adom will make his first start at linebacker. He, along with the other members of the Wolverine defense, will face a tough task in trying to slow down Lee running back Idreis Augustus, who is considered one of the best backs in the region.
Henderson said other young players are starting to make an impact for the Wolverines.
"I’m not saying we’re de-emphasizing the seniors, it’s just that younger kids are starting to step up and assert themselves and that’s good," the coach said. "You need that competition. You don’t want complacent kids on a 1-5 team."
While the postseason is likely out of reach for the Wolverines, Henderson is looking for improvement — something the return of Mathewson should help.
"I think our goals are to re-establish ourselves," the coach said, "to try to get back to where we were at the beginning of the season — playing well, playing confident."