Stone football ends on high note
Cougars run past Hurricanes to cap year
After a couple of tough weeks against Calvert and Patuxent, both of which qualified for the Class 2A South Region football playoffs, the Thomas Stone Cougars shook it off to close out their season with a 12-7 win at Huntingtown in a Southern Maryland Athletic Conference nondivi- sion contest.
The Cougars had their sights set on Hunting- town the second the previ- ous week’s game against Patuxent reached its end, according to Stone head coach Danny Ripple.
“I thought that we had a really good week of practice last week,” he said in a phone interview with Southern Maryland Newspapers on Monday night. “When we got done with Patuxent we said we were on to Huntingtown and they put in four days of hard work and off on Friday.”
Stone (5-5 overall), which scored both of its touchdowns on long run- ning plays, opened the scoring with EJ Thompson’s 62-yard dash to the end zone early in the sec- ond quarter.
Huntingtown (2-8) lat- er took a 7-6 lead when quarterback Connor Jones capped a drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge followed by a suc- cessful point-after. But the visitors struck back on Jonathan Harris’ 68yard touchdown run in the third quarter, putting Stone back in front to stay.
For the Hurricanes, the game followed a sea- son-long theme where the team would hang right in games but found itself a couple of plays short.
“They all played hard and gave great effort,” Huntingtown head coach Paul Friel said on Mon- day of his team’s finale. “Again, there were just a couple plays here and there. We gave up a couple it paid long runs and that was the story of it. The offense, we’d drive and then had a few turnovers and things that kill drives, pretty much like most of our other games. We’re getting close, but not there yet.”
Friel, who was in his first year at the Hurri- canes’ helm after heading up Stone’s program the previous four seasons, is looking for his team to have a productive off- season to start the climb back up the SMAC ranks.
Huntingtown defeated St. Charles on Oct. 14 this year, and also officially picked up a win by forfeit over Northern due to the Patriots using ineligible players.
“We have to get heavily into the offseason weight program. That’s where we were lacking the most this year,” he said. “That, I think, was a big difference in a lot of the tight games. Physically we have to get stronger and have more mobility. That’s what we’re really going to focus on in the offseason.”
The Cougars were 4-3 after shutting out Westlake in Week 7. But lopsided losses the next two weeks to Calvert and Patuxent — the respective second and first seeds in the 2A South for the upcoming playoffs — left the team playing for a .500 record in the season’s final week.
Friday night’s win allowed the team to finish the season on a high note, though, and Ripple was optimistic about where they were headed following his first year with the program.
“The record didn’t quite end up where we wanted it to be, obviously. We kind of had a roller-coaster ride with a lot of ups and downs. I’m just happy it ended on a high note,” he said. “I was very pleased with my first year at Stone, just working with everybody — the parents, the players and the administration. I was treated very well, and I’m already looking forward to year No. 2.”