Stone football ends on high note

Cougars run past Hur­ri­canes to cap year

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By ANDY STATES as­tates@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @cfh­philly

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.”

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