Standing on the sideline during Friday’s season opener against Poolesville, Watkins Mill junior J.R. Gibson looked to the field and got the attention of fellow defensive back Deontray George, eager to return to action.
"Let me know," said Gibson, asking for a heads up when George wanted to come out.
George, however, wasn’t ready to end his turn in the Wolverines’ DB rotation. On the next play, he made the most of the opportunity, intercepting a tipped pass and returning it 35 yards for a touchdown.
"He can come in next series," George later joked.
George ended the night with three touchdowns as the Wolverines produced a flurry of big plays to throttle Poolesville, 42-12, at Watkins Mill High School. Along with his interception return, the senior speedster returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown—a tightrope act past would-be tacklers along the sideline—and scored on a 13-yard run while playing quarterback during fourth-quarter mop-up duty.
"[George] was just named captain the other day [and] I think that might have excited him," said first-year Watkins Mill head coach Kevin Watson. "He played like a man possessed, scoring three different ways. We knew he was a weapon and that shows you right there."
Watkins Mill brandished its big-play potency during Watson’s debut as head coach. The offense rushed for 303 yards and four players scored at least one touchdown. The Wolverines ripped off eight runs of at least 16 yards and senior running back Mike Offutt returned a kickoff 71 yards to set up a field goal attempt.
While Watson was pleased with his team’s effort, he doubts the Wolverines will survive if they continue to rely on the big play. He said the team needs to cut its penalties and work on sustaining drives.
"We were hoping [big plays were] going to be a strength and obviously that’s a big part of our game," Watson said, "but we also have to go in and fix some things on offense and defense so we can become a complete team. You’re not going to beat Damascus with some of the stuff that we did—not going to happen."
The victory came at a price for Watkins Mill, with two key players going down with injuries. Gibson hurt his knee late in the first half and Offutt—who rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown in just nine carries—hurt his right shoulder while making a tackle early in the fourth quarter. Offutt left the stadium on a stretcher. The prognosis for both players is uncertain.
"It puts a downer [on the win] because those guys, I’ve seen them work all summer long," Watson said. "Yes, it puts a downer on that piece of it, but the nice thing is we’ve got guys right behind ready to go. … It’s somebody else’s turn to now step up, that’s the way you’ve go to look at it, too. Hopefully they can return back to us, but we’ll see what happens."
Watkins Mill starting quarterback Patrick Schlosser scored the game’s first touchdown on a 1-yard run in the opening quarter. The junior rushed six times for 45 yards and completed 3 of 10 passes for 25 yards. He was intercepted once.
The Wolverines led 14-6 at halftime and started to pull away in the third quarter. Senior running back Justin Meade scored on a 13-yard run with 8:54 left in the third. George scored his punt-return touchdown on Poolesville’s ensuing drive, giving the Wolverines a 28-6 advantage. Meade finished with seven carries for 40 yards.
Defensively, Watkins Mill forced four turnovers. George and junior Quinton Littlejohn snagged interceptions and the Wolverines recovered two Falcon fumbles.
"It can boost us a lot," George said of the victory. "It was our first home game, we came out and we had a nice crowd. We let them score and it was a close game, but then we came out and put up 42 points on them and we just got everything together."
Watkins Mill next takes the field against powerhouse Damascus at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9. The Hornets started their 2011 campaign by eking out a 19-18 overtime win against Clarksburg.