HAMPSTEAD, Md. —Matt Martello, back after 10 years for a second term as North Carroll’s head football coach, didn’t have an ideal first opponent.
The Panthers drew Boonsboro, which won 10 games a year ago to reach the Class 1A West final and returned many of its top players, including an explosive group of skill-position upperclassmen.
Those Warriors made it a deflating debut, scoring on three consecutive offensive plays in the first quarter and finishing with three touchdowns of more than 40 yards en route to a 37-0 win over the Panthers on Friday night.
“They’re a well-coached team, they have a winning tradition and they just have some skill players that can really change the game,” said Martello, who took over a team that went 2-8 a year ago. “That’s what they did and we just couldn’t respond.”
The Boonsboro contingent came away satisfied, save for a number of players who had to leave the game with cramping because of the heat — game-time temperature was near 90 — and one potentially serious injury to a lineman.
“I’m very happy with how we played,” Boonsboro coach Clayton Anders said. “We were able to get some big plays and take advantage of a few things and, on defense, any time you can pitch a shutout, that’s the best you can hope for.”
The Panthers actually got off to an encouraging start. Tyler Whitehead registered a tackle for loss against Boonsboro on the first play from scrimmage of the season, and three plays later North Carroll’s Dan Gebhart recovered a fumble. A subsequent 21-yard run by Gebhart had North Carroll down to Boonsboro’s 32. But that drive stalled and the rest of the first half was a disaster for the home team.
Boonsboro scored first on a 14-yard Ryan Ruiz pass to Justin Jardeleza on a fourth-and-2 play with 5:19 left in the first quarter. After a North Carroll three-and-out, Zach Poffenberger took an inside handoff and sprinted 56 yards untouched down the sideline and it was 14-0.
After another three-and-out, Jardeleza took a pitch, broke a tackle in the backfield, found the same sideline Poffenberger had zoomed down moments earlier, broke a last-ditch tackle at the 10 and scored on a 67-yard run to make it 21-0 with 35 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
“We started off very well, but we lost some momentum and they had some big plays,” Martello said.
Having been outgained 200-19 in the opening quarter, North Carroll then put together a nice drive. The Panthers ran 12 plays and secured three first downs, but wound up settling for a 39-yard field goal attempt that came up short.
Boonsboro kicker Calleb Yurish made a 23-yard field goal with 1:10 left in the first half. But the Panthers fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Tyler Hollis recovered and three plays later Gunnar Whipp scored from 3 yards out to give the Warriors a 31-0 halftime lead.
“I thought we were going into halftime at 21-0 and we weren’t, so that just kills you,” Martello said.
After stopping North Carroll for yet another three-and-out, the Warriors tacked on a final long touchdown as Ruiz hit Nick Seabright in stride for a 41-yard score that made it 37-0, triggering the running clock. The rest of the game went quickly and uneventfully.
“It was tough,” Gebhart said. “Brand-new offense and all, it’s going to take a while to get going. We have a lot of kinks to work out, but I think we got a lot of reps, especially tackling, and every week we’ll get better."