Pete Bendorf, the South County Secondary School football coach, was pleased with what he had seen of his team’s defensive play during scrimmage games versus both Robinson and Quince Orchard (Md.) during the recent preseason. So, going into his team’s season opener game versus host Chantilly last Thursday, Sept. 2, he was optimistic about the Stallions’ chances of holding down the Chargers’ attack.
But, as is often the case in first week games when teams are attempting to carry what they learned during training camp on into the regular season, things don’t always go as planned.
Chantilly, fueled by two first quarter touchdowns, went on to defeat South County, 28-13.
“I was a little disappointed in our performance,” said Bendorf. “Against Robinson and Quince Orchard we played well defensively. We allowed just seven points to Robinson. We turned around and didn’t play real well versus Chantilly. But Chantilly played well.”
The Chargers, under head coach Mike Lalli, rolled up 328 yards of offense in the win. They gained early control of the game with a pair of first quarter TDs – a 46-yard run by William Hill-Pensamiento (12 carries, 89 yards), followed by a five-yard scoring run from Jimmy Hicks (12 for 49).
So just like that, South County trailed 14-0 after one quarter. Thereafter, the Stallions played better across the board, according to Bendorf. South County got back into the game on a two-yard scoring run by Andrew Rector, who went on to gain 123 yards on 28 carries.
Chantilly, ahead 14-7 at halftime, scored its third touchdown of the night when quarterback Carson Romine connected with Trey Huelskamp on an eight yard scoring play in the third quarter. Romine, the Chargers’ second year starting QB, completed eight-of-16 passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns, and also rushed for 73 yards on 10 carries.
“Carson started all 11 games last year,” said Lalli, the Chargers’ coach. “[In the opener last week] he played his most complete game of his 12 game career. We hope that this will be a good stepping stone to a successful senior season for him.”
<b>LATER IN THE THIRD QUARTER</b>, South County quarterback Jacob Josephs (8-of-20, 77 yards), with his team trailing 20-6, tossed a 17-yard scoring strike to Ryan Taylor to get South County within 21-13 and keep the Stallions’ comeback hopes alive.
That was still the score with less than seven minutes remaining before Romine tossed his second touchdown pass of the game – a 36-yard strike to Caleb Reinhardt – to pretty much put the game away.
Earlier on that final Chantilly scoring drive, the Chargers had pulled off a successful fake punt on a fourth down play to put the ball on the South County 40. That play set up the clinching score for the Chargers.
“We played well for the first game,” said Lalli, whose team will be home against Langley this Friday night. “We hope we can capitalize on this good start and continue to improve each week.”
The coach was especially pleased with his team’s running attack on offense. For the game, Chantilly rushed for 245 team yards.
“We were very pleased with the efforts of all three running backs - Jimmy Hicks, Cory Donovan (34 yards) as well as Will,” said Lalli. “We felt that all three provided a physical running presence and we were pleased with their blocking. There was a nice balance.”
Bendorf was impressed with Chantilly’s all around play in the win.
“They didn’t turn the ball over and had very few penalties,” he said. “Chantilly has very good leadership.”
South County, a relatively young squad this season with 15 juniors in the starting line-up, will be home this Friday night against Washington-Lee (Arlington). The Generals, members of the National District, lost their season opener at McLean last Thursday night, 14-6.
“We’ll focus on getting better,” said Bendorf. “We had a good practice [on Labor Day Monday]. The kids want to get better. We feel we have a pretty good defense.”
Langley, Chantilly’s next opponent, is coming off a week one 49-10 road loss at defending Div. 6 region champion Lake Braddock. The Chargers’ defense will get a big test in going up against talented Saxons’ quarterback Braden Anderson, who completed 20 of 39 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown against the Bruins.
“Langley’s a pretty good football team despite what the final score was,” said Lake Braddock coach Jim Poythress.
<b>Westfield Loses Defensive Dual</b>
Two perennial Northern Region powers – Westfield and Stone Bridge – went head-to-head in the season’s first week. In a defensive-dominant contest, Stone Bridge, the defending Div. 5 region champions and members of the Liberty District, came out on top, 7-3.
All of the game’s scoring occurred in the first quarter. Westfield got a 23-yard field goal from junior kicker Matt Delaney to go ahead 3-0. Stone Bridge went ahead later in the quarter on a one-yard scoring run by Kyle Gouveia. The successful point-after kick gave the Bulldogs – the Bulldogs from Stone Bridge, that is – the lead for good at 7-3.
Both Bulldog teams received outstanding games from their respective top running backs. Stone Bridge’s Marcus Harris carried the football 24 times for 131 yards, while Westfield’s Kendell Anderson rushed for 137 yards on 24 tries.
This Friday night will see Westfield travel to Alexandria to take on the West Potomac Wolverines of the Patriot District. West Potomac overwhelmed cross-town rival Mount Vernon last week, 55-20.