Dominating the line of scrimmage from the start, the St. Mary's football squad did the expected Saturday night, dismantling winless Archbishop Spalding, 35-14, at Anne Arundel Community College.
As has been the norm all season, the 4-1 Saints (2-0 in Maryland Scholastic Association C Conference) used hard-running Joe Conte and big-play quarterback Adam Hrebiniak to stake themselves to a 28-0 halftime lead. Conte, a 5-foot-7 senior, slashed his way through the Cavalier defense for 193 yards -- 182 in the first half -- and two touchdowns on 16 carries. He also caught an 8-yard touchdown toss.
"That kid Conte is just a super runner," said Spalding coach GregFuhrman. "It's a good thing he's as small as he is, or else he wouldbe unstoppable."
This season, Conte has rushed for 495 yards, averaging over 7 yards per carry.
"Joe only weighs around 136 pounds,but he squats over 300. He's just a real strong kid for his size," said St. Mary's coach Brad Best.
Conte's 58-yard bolt into the end zone three minutes into the contest began the Saints' scoring onslaught. His other scoring run, with less than a minute left in the first half, covered 4 yards.
Hrebiniak (2-for-4, 78 yards, two touchdowns), hooked up with split end Keith Kretkowski on a 70-yard bomb in the first quarter. That brought his season totals to 21 completions on 39 attempts for 356 yards and six touchdowns with only two interceptions.
"The offensive line was just incredible today," said Hrebiniak, a 5-8, 170-pounder who saw limited action behind three-year starter Charlie Griffith during his junior season.
Wingback Steve Krupinsky (four carries, 27 yards) ended the scoring for St. Mary's with a 2-yard burst at 7:57 of the third quarter.
"I've been waiting all year for the offensive line to really come off of the ball," said Best. "Last game, against St. Paul's (a 19-14 win), about midway throughthe second quarter they started firing off of the ball like they didall of last year, and it just carried through to this game."
"I haven't seen many high school teams come off the ball like they do. They really controlled the line of scrimmage, and we were just outmanned again," said Fuhrman, whose team dropped to 0-4 overall and 0-2 in the conference, extending its winless streak to 26 games.
The defending C Conference tri-champions' lone defeat this season came against South River, 6-0, on Sept. 13 -- a far cry from last year's 40-7 shellacking that began their two-game losing streak after winning theirfirst eight.
"Every time we had a good drive going, we'd get a real stupid penalty," said senior offensive tackle Norm Tucker, who along with fellow two-way linemen Shawn Harper, Todd Harrison, Greg Carobrese, Dwen Lim and Rory Kiernan cleared the way for the offense to roll up more than 300 yards of total offense in the first half. Harper, a 6-6, 270-pound tackle, is being scouted by both West Point and the Naval Academy, but is considered by Best as a Division I-AA prospect. Kiernan, a 6-3, 225-pound center, is being looked at by I-AA schools such as William and Mary (Va.) and Lafayette (Pa.).
"I'll probably go to prep school next year at Lawrenceville (N.J.). I'd like to stay there a year and get a little bigger, and then play somewhere after that," said Kiernan, a B student.
The Saints defensive unit, sparked by end Ward Eichelberger, held Spalding to just 55 yards of total offense during the first half. Best made wholesale substitutions early in the second half.
Dan Wolf's 1-yard plunge and Jeff Paxson's (two catches, 42 yards) 27-yard touchdown catch from Brian Edwardsin the fourth period accounted for the Spalding points.
"Other coaches would have gone for the jugular, but Brad has never been that way," said Fuhrman. "They're just super. I think they're the best in the conference."