When Roy Brown took over the Annapolis football program two years ago, he knew his job wasn't going to be easy. But Brown wasn't ready to take any short cuts.
Saturday afternoon's 14-6 loss to Baltimore County powerhouse Randallstown, coupled with a loss a week ago to Friendly of Prince George's County, marked the second straight year that the defending Region IV Class 4A Panthers had to open their schedule with an 0-2 record.
Still, Brown has no remorse.
"We don't back off from anybody," Brown declared while making his way across the gridiron at Catonsville Community College where the Rams play their home games. "I thought we played both our games tough we just didn't win them.
"If we would have won our first two games, I doubt if people would have showed up to play us in the county. It wasn't like we were playing in Mr. Rogers' League."
The Panthers may not have been playing in "Mr. Rogers' League" but they were playing in Larry Washington's neighborhood. Washington, the Rams' star running back, who carried the ball 12 times for 236 yards and two touchdowns a week ago against Lackey, bulldozed his way to 89 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in the first half alone against Annapolis.
Randallstown took advantage of excellent field position to start the game after the Panthers came up short on a fourth-and-inches play at midfield. Rams' coach John Buchheister called on Washington on his team's first four plays from scrimmage and the 5-foot-10, 214 pounder answered by hammering his way 23 yards to the Panthers' 25-yard line.
Seven plays later, Washington plunged into the end zone to put the hosts out front, 6-0.
"Larry (Washington) is the guy who has to carry us," said Buchheister. "We saw them (Annapolis) play and we knew we could run to the right on them. Our guys were tired but they really sucked it up."
Brown was impressed with Washington's ability to pick up the needed yardage, but said he was more impressed with the fact that Randallstown refused to commit a turnover.
"Larry's a tough runner, no doubt," he conceded. "The thing about it is, we didn't give up the long touchdown runs, but Randallstown didn't turn the ball over either. They moved the ball well and ate up the clock."
The Panthers managed to move the ball to Randallstown's 23-yard line midway through the second quarter but lost possession when they came up short for the second time on a fourth-and-one situation.
Randallstown threatened to go up by two touchdowns at the half but Annapolis' defense prevailed and the Panthers only trailed by six at the intermission.
Annapolis held the Rams on their first possession of the second half and once again were awarded good field position but couldn't produce any points.
Randallstown's offense then went to work on the Panther's tiring defense and manufactured a 63-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 9-yard run by Washington. The Rams took a 14-0 lead on the next play when quarterback Shaun Poulton found Jerome Murray alone in the right corner of the end zone for the two-point conversion.
Annapolis took to the air on its next possession and 11 plays and four completions later, found themselves in striking range trailing, 14-6. On the touchdown -- which was Annapolis' first of the season -- Darryl Foote connected with Roy Henson down the right sideline for a 19-yard strike.
The Panthers got one final chance to tie things up when they took over at their own 38 with a little under four minutes remaining, but their drive was stalled at the Rams' 24-yard line.