It was a night of firsts for North County, the new kid on the block in Anne Arundel County football. And they hardly could wait for seconds.
The Knights, born of the merger of Brooklyn Park and Andover high schools, were visiting Meade for their first-ever athletic contest.
"Starting any season with a victory is important," said North athletic director Mike Baker. "We wanted to set the tone for athletics at North County."
The Knights under coach Chuck Markiewicz set that tone loudly Friday night, earning a 6-3 victory over the Mustangs as Vernon Dawson scored the first touchdown in the school's history.
His heroics left Dawson nearly speechless and had Markiewicz, the former Meade coach, heaving a huge sigh of relief. Markiewicz had promoted his run-and-shoot offense in the preseason.
"All I could think about late in the game was that I had talked up run-and-shoot and here we were without a touchdown to show for it," said Markiewicz. "When Vernon scored, it let a great big ape off my back."
The keys to victory, which the Knights will carry into their first home opener Friday night against Northern of Calvert County, were the swarming defense and the well-rested Dawson.
The 5-foot-11, 170-pounder is a central cog in the defense and Markiewicz chose to wait until the second half to insert him on offense.
"I was stupid, thinking he might get too tired or injured," said Markiewicz. "Football is a tough sport and Vernon's a tough kid. He showed he can handle it and you can bet he'll be in there [on offense] a lot sooner next game."
Dawson and Markiewicz praised assistant coach Brad Wilson for masterminding the defensive game plan that limited Meade to minus-12 yards rushing and four first downs.
"We knew we could break the bone [Meade's wishbone offense] and force them to pass," said Wilson. Although Meade quarterback Drew Barrone had some success passing -- his passes set up a first-half field goal of 28 yards by Clarence Peacock -- North's defense managed four interceptions, three fumble recoveries and a blocked punt.
The Meade defense under new head coach Hayse Henderson was nearly equal in effectiveness, until Dawson punctuated chapter one in North County football history on a 1-yard plunge.
"Everything just went so smoothly all week," said Baker. "This was the perfect ending to a perfect first week at North County. The faculty was prepared, the students arrived, the parents were there handing out gifts and welcoming students. It was just perfect and now this."
Indeed, the North County fans were so supportive in the fourth quarter, they even cheered wildly when the referees marched off a 5-yard illegal motion penalty against their team.
Now that's another first for the book.