FORT WASHINGTON -- C. Milton Wright football fans had many positive factors to ponder following their team's loss in the state Class 3A football championship.
The Mustangs (12-1) were humbled, 33-20, by McDonough of Charles County before nearly 3,000 Friday night at Friendly High School in Prince George's County.
"We were ready for McDonough's inside trapping, but we just didn't get the job done," said coach Steve Harward. "Our off-side linebacker just couldn't get there to stop him."
Harward was referring to McDonough speedster Sherron Gudger, who rushed for 265 yards and four touchdowns.
Harward was disappointed, but hardly distraught. The Mustangs' roster lists nine seniors and only five of those were starters in this glorious season, the best in the 11-year history of the Mustangs.
"Three of those seniors are going to be very hard to replace," said Harward. "Kenny Batten, Israel Sostrin and Daryl Smith are among the best we've ever had."
Against McDonough, they were the Mustangs' heart and soul. Batten rushed for 89 yards, caught seven passes and scored on a 65-yard fumble recovery.
Sostrin scored on a 3-yard run, set up by his own 11-yard run for a first-and-goal situation, and Smith led his teammates in the trenches, offensively and defensively.
Still, there was a wait-till-next-year look in the eyes of the younger Mustangs.
There were low moments -- junior Mike Whitehead suffered a concussion, and while he was on his way to the hospital, junior lineman Ron Paden sat, head bowed. He had a huge ice pack wrapped around his swollen ankle.
But there were highlights as well. Split end/kicker Mike Weichert had first-half field goals of 34 and 35 yards that helped keep the score respectable, and his leaping reception helped set up Sostrin's touchdown.
Junior quarterback Jeff Hawk ran the shotgun offense well as the Mustangs struggled to rally. Sophomore running back Chris Gill, who had scored a key touchdown in the semifinals, was another bright spot.
McDonough, meanwhile, added another state title to the ones it captured with unbeaten teams in 1983 and 1985 under coach Larry Johnson. "This wasn't my best team, but it has been my most satisfying," said Johnson.
Harward could say much the same.