It really didn't matter that Kevin Loewe, after catching a sideline pass with nothing but daylight between him and a game-tying touchdown, just fell and dropped the ball for a Frederick defender to recover.
True, it was odd that a three-sport athlete whose skills depend so much on gifted hands should be betrayed by his legs. But he wasn't embarrassed.
"Those things happen in football," the Perry Hall senior said. Both calves had suddenly cramped up and he simply dropped the ball as he went down.
"I have no excuses," he said, "but in a game like this in your senior year, you've got to gut it out."
Loewe lost the ball on that play but not his perspective, and eventually his mental toughness would help the No. 6 Gators win the season opener in overtime, 22-20. He fought through the leg cramps all afternoon to catch a long-gainer on the tying touchdown drive, scored the winning touchdown on a 10-yard pass from Donnie Burks in overtime, then made the first hit on a game-saving tackle as Frederick attempted to tie.
That Loewe -- one of the Gators' tri-captains -- would do so surprised no one at Perry Hall.
In the bayou-like sultriness of the late summer afternoon, Joe Stoy must have been simmering at halftime. The Perry Hall coach had watched his young team play like their namesakes -- lying flat on the ground in the sunshine. The Frederick lines were grinding Gator tails into alligator sausage as the Cadets took a 14-0 lead. Perry Hall, held to only 4 yards of total offense, was being swamped.
At halftime, said offensive coordinator Al Miller, "Kevin was telling the younger kids, 'Look, don't quit because we came back last year all the time' . . . He's not a big kid [5 feet 10, 155 pounds], but he's big in heart and drive. Most of his leadership is by example."
Besides starting at wide receiver for the Gators, Loewe is their backup quarterback, starting safety (All-Metro honorable mention last year) and defensive signal-caller. "He's like another coach," Miller said.
Oh, about those gifted hands. They also control the basketball for the Gators from the point guard position during the winter. And the left one controls a baseball awfully well during the spring and summer. As a junior Loewe was second-team All-Metro as a lefthanded pitcher (10-0) for the Gators' undefeated 4A state champs.
Because of his size, Loewe believes his athletic future is in baseball. "I'd love to play Division I. I'd like to go somewhere out of state and probably south," where the strong college baseball programs dwell.
His 3.87 grade-point average should entice coaches as much as his pitching talents. It's especially impressive since he also works 20 hours a week. Said Dolly Carrigan, Kevin's mother, "He'll do it at the last minute, but he doesn't go to bed until his assignments are done."
Loewe is also in the Peer Counseling Program at Perry Hall. He was chosen by students and faculty to receive human relations and communications skills training and to provide support for students in need.
"He's a real outstanding kid," said Bruce Seward, who oversees the program. "He has a lot of depth and empathy; good outreach in a real humble way." Last year, when a Perry Hall coed Kevin was close to was killed in an auto accident, he gave support to other students who were hurting.
That's why it really doesn't matter when Kevin Loewe drops a football.