Put Meade High School and Coach Hayse Henderson at the head of the class for pulling off the biggest win of the season-opening weekend inhigh school football.
What happens the first week often previews what's in store for a team the rest of the way. For Meade, that's exciting, but for Annapolis, it's scary. Yes, first impressions can be lasting.
And, as you will see below, you can forget that old adage about "home, sweet home" as we round up the weekend action in pigskins.
Meade stunned the perennial State 4A champion Blue Devils, 20-14, Saturday, and they did it at Springbrook, where our county teams of the past have usually gone to get hammered.
With the Mustangs posting the biggest upset of the weekend on the prep scene, the victory has set up quite a contrast in emotions forthis week's game. Emotionally speaking, you can't get much higher than the 'Stangs, and you probably can't get much lower than their opponent for Friday.
Meade visits Annapolis (7:30 p.m. Friday) for a big Class 4A Region IV contest with the host Panthers coming off the other extreme in emotions.
Outplaying last year's State 4A champion Randallstown, now a 3A school, most of the game, Annapolis suffered an 18-17 defeat in the final fiveseconds.
What it all means is that Henderson will have no problems convincing his 'Stangs they can win at Annapolis, while Panther coach Roy Brown will have to pick up the pieces all week and get his team in the right frame of mind. Brown has to be concerned about his guys playing scared.
After a dismal rookie season of 1-9, the worst in Meade history, Henderson has bolted out of the gate in his wishboneoffense and has his critics scrambling.
All last season, Henderson took the heat from the media, parents, fans, and even his staff andsome of the players. But he persevered.
Henderson stuck to his guns and kept plugging away with his "bone," even facing similar situations such as visiting the likes of a Springbrook. He took his Mustangs on a long haul to Fort Hill in Cumberland in the fourth game of theseason.
Meade was coming off its first win, by 7-6 over Broadneck, but was traveling to football country, where the likes of Fort Hilllicked its chops in anticipation of wiping out all visitors in frontof about 8,000 fans. It happened again that fall night, as Meade wasembarrassed, 52-zip.
To his credit, Henderson rallied his troops and got them together to play a pretty good game the following week before bowing to eventual county 4A champion Severna Park, 29-13. After that game, Falcons' coach Andy Borland warned, "Meade is going to be a team to watch out for next year. They've got some really good athletes over there, and if Hayse can bring them together, look out."
The big guy was dead serious, and could see Meade coming on.
Whatfollowed the Severna Park loss were five more losses for Henderson, but those games actually could have gone either way. Meade lost to Glen Burnie (16-0), Region IV champion Old Mill (20-14), Chesapeake in overtime (19-18), Annapolis (14-10) and arch-rival Arundel (19-6).
Each week it got a little tougher, because Henderson was not only frustrated by the losses on the field, but probably more so by the criticism up in the stands, where the parents sit.
I heard from quite a few Meade parents calling to crack on Hayse, and a few who claimed his own coaching staff didn't support him. The back-stabbing was peaking.
Henderson showed he could be as thick-skinned as anyone and just kept going out there and preaching the ways of the wishbone.
At season's end, the Meade coach cleaned house and kept only Elliott Harvey and Scott Harmon from last year's staff and added Tom Harmon and Bob Powell. Obviously the move has paid off.
If we are to judge by the Mustangs' opener -- and I say we can because Meade was not supposed to win at Springbrook, where six state championship banners hang (most by any school) -- Henderson has everyone on the same page now.
Senior running back Kenny Walker showed how the "bone" can fly Saturday down in Montgomery county by rambling for three touchdowns and 165 yards on just 13 carries. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound speedster scored on scampers of 25, 1 and 62 yards, the game-winner coming in thethird period.
Meanwhile, the Meade defense, buoyed by senior cornerbacks Kevin Powell and Jay Twardowski and nose tackle Andy Dorsey, allowed only second- and fourth-period touchdowns to the Blue Devils and held off the home team's final thrust.
Springbrook blocked a Meade punt with 3 minutes, 5 seconds to go, but the Mustangs wouldn't break down.
It was the kind of win that can make a season for a team. But their opponent Friday night, Annapolis, is on the other side of the fence. The Panthers had a big win of their own in the bag and were running out the clock before a late fumble resulted in a Randallstown six-pointer on fourth and goal at the 1.