St. Charles blanks North­ern

Hughes scores twice for Spar­tans

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

On a week that be­gan in dis­ap­point­ing fash­ion for the North­ern High School foot­ball team, the Pa­tri­ots were un­able to fin­ish it on a high note as they were blanked by host St. Charles in a Southern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence Po­tomac Di­vi­sion con­test on Fri­day night.

North­ern ( 0- 8, 0- 5 SMAC Po­tomac) be­gan the sea­son 4- 3 on the field and ap­peared on the verge of earn­ing the school’s first post­sea­son berth since 2003, but it was stripped of those four vic­to­ries after an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Calvert County Stu­dent Ser­vices found the team had used in­el­i­gi­ble play­ers. Head coach Dar­ren DeMeio was sus­pended for the re­main­der of the sea­son and de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Jeff Cran­ford was pro­moted to in­terim head coach.

“It was a tough week, but what I am most proud of is none of the kids quit,” said Cran­ford, who had pre­vi­ously been the de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor at Southern High School in Anne Arun­del County where he as­sumed the head coach­ing du­ties for two games, both wins. “We went from not even know­ing if we were go­ing to have a team on Mon­day to a full week of prac­tice. The kids never gave up. They came here and played hard, but the men­tal mis­takes killed us.”

While North­ern strug­gled to mount any drives in the first half against a stingy Spar­tans de­fense, St. Charles — play­ing on its se­nior night — needed only a hand­ful of plays to find the end zone twice dur­ing a 90- se­cond span of the se­cond quar­ter. Tail­back Jef­frey Hughes broke the score­less dead­lock when he raced 75 yards on a sweep left to give the Spar­tans a 7- 0 lead with 7: 30 left in the half.

After North­ern turned the ball over on its se­cond play from scrim­mage on the en­su­ing pos­ses­sion, Hughes raced 29 yards off left tackle to reach the Pa­tri­ots 1- yard line. Then on first down and goal, Hughes took the hand­off from quar­ter­back Mar­lon Brown and plowed for­ward for another touch­down. Chris­tian Wood con­verted the se­cond of his two ex­tra points in the con­test to push the lead to 14- 0.

“Jef­frey is def­i­nitely a game- changer,” said St. Charles head coach Avery Wil­liams, whose team will be at Great Mills for a 6 p. m. Fri­day kick­off. The Hor­nets fell to North Point in Week 8, 35- 3. “He’s been mak­ing plays like that all sea­son for us, ba­si­cally for the past two sea­sons. I was proud of the se­niors. This was their night and the un­der­class­men were in­tent on see­ing them get a win tonight. North­ern played hard all the way to the end.”

St. Charles ( 3- 5, 1- 3) nearly added to its lead late in the se­cond quar­ter when by march­ing 40 yards in eight plays.

Hughes car­ried three times for 32 yards on the drive and Jonte Thomas had three car­ries for another nine yards, but the half ex­pired when Brown at­tempted to score on a keeper and was shoved out of bounds at the North­ern 14.

The Pa­tri­ots spent much of the se­cond half in St. Charles ter­ri­tory, even start­ing two drives on the Spar­tans side of the field. But penal­ties and turnovers doomed sev­eral drives and another ended two yards short of a first down at the St. Charles 5.

On its last two pos­ses­sions of the game, North­ern drives ended inside the Spar­tans 30. Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Gun­nar Chris­tian­son was in­ter­cepted on his first pass of the fourth quar­ter, then com­pleted three passes for 34 yards on the next drive to bring the Pa­tri­ots to the St. Charles 26, but his next four passes were all in­com­plete.

Fol­low­ing a St Charles punt, Chris­tian­son con­nected with Colten King on a 40-yard strike down the right sideline to bring the Pa­tri­ots to the Spar­tans 30, but his last two passes sailed off tar­get and time ex­pired with the hosts being able to claim a shutout over the Pa­tri­ots.

The Pa­tri­ots will host McDonough at 7 p.m. Fri­day. The Rams fell to Lackey in Week 8, 41-6.

STAFF PHOTO BY TED BLACK

The St. Charles of­fense takes over deep in into own ter­ri­tory on Fri­day night against North­ern after the Spar­tans pre­vented the Pa­tri­ots from get­ting into the end zone on their best drive of the night. St. Charles won 14-0.

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