Don't tell Archbishop Spalding's second-year head coach Greg Fuhrmanthat the number 13 is unlucky. The way things have gone for his football program, it only figures that it took a "lucky 13" for the Cavaliers to shake a hex.
That was the number of points it took to end a 13-game losing streak for the second time in two years.
Yes, strange as it sounds and sounds, the Cavaliers finally won agame Saturday edging Southwestern of Baltimore (3-3), 13-12, at Bronco Field in Brooklyn Park. It was the first time in 28 games that theCavaliers had emerged victorious.
"It feels great because it had gotten pretty frustrating," said junior pass receiver-cornerback JeffPaxson, who caught the game-winning touchdown. "We always think we can win despite the record, but it was pretty frustrating."
Since a38-0 romp over Friends School of Baltimore on Oct. 15, 1988, the Cavaliers had gone 27 straight games without a win.
Spalding was to go 2-8 in 1988, its only other win was an 18-14 victory over Brooklyn Park in the second game of the season. It's not known if Spalding hasanything to do with it, but Friends doesn't field a football team anymore and Brooklyn Park High has been merged with Andover to form North County High.
Spalding was 0-8-1 in Fuhrman's rookie season of 1990, tying Douglass of Baltimore 0-0 in the second game of the season.
That Maryland Scholastic Association (MSA) C Conference game actually went into overtime, with Spalding losing, 6-0, but after it wasdiscovered that the MSA doesn't use OT, the result was overturned and ruled a tie.
Thus, the Cavs' losing streak was over at 13 games,but their winless streak continued and another losing streak startedthe following week with a 48-12 humiliation at the hands of Maret School.
That second losing streak stood at 13 until Saturday as the Cavs had dropped its first six games this season and the last seven in 1990, following the tie with Douglass.
It was an extra sweet victory in that the Cavs posted it over a Sabres' team that humbled them, 59-2, the year before.
"We thought about revenge, but we were ready for this game with a new defense to stop their run-and-shoot, andit worked," said Paxson of Fuhrman's successful scheme.
After Southwestern struck for two touchdowns in the first two periods, the Cavs got on the board on the final play of the half. Senior quarterback Brian Edwards connected with junior Pat Kiley for a 9-yard touchdown pass, and after the Cavs missed the two-point conversion, the two teams went to intermission with the Sabres up by 12-6.
Fuhrman did his best Knute Rockne impression at halftime, and the Cavs came out with fire in their eyes. On their first possession of the second half, the Cavs scored on a 7-yard TD pass from Edwards to Paxson, capping aneight-play, 70-yard drive to tie game at 12.
Junior Tim Alber then booted the decisive extra point and the Cavs held on. They took theair out of the Sabres' normally potent attack using three down linemen, two tackles and a nose guard, two inside linebackers, plus two more linebackers on the outside slot-men. In the secondary, the Cavs set up with two corners and two safeties to thwart the Sabres' air attack.
With just 12 seconds to go, the Sabres were driving when linebacker Scott Mattison picked off an errant pass inside the Spalding 15to preserve the victory and Fuhrman's sanity, as well.
The guy has gone through the wringer the last couple seasons after coming from winning programs at Calvert High in Calvert County and Annapolis. Fuhrman was an assistant at Annapolis after a five-year stint as head coach at Calvert (1984-88).
Annapolis coach Roy Brown highly recommended the 30-year-old Fuhrman as a head coach and predicted his formerJV and defensive line coach would build a winning program at Spalding.
Over the last year, opposing coaches have often praised Fuhrman's determination and coaching ability, saying, "The guy is doing an excellent job. His kids aren't giving up. Give them credit for trying so hard. He's got them doing the right things, it's just a matter of time."
Fuhrman's time came Saturday and there are a lot of coachesand friends of his who feel real good about his first win.
Looking ahead, the Cavs could win their next three games. Spalding plays host to Douglass (1-5) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Bronco Field and visits Archbishop Curley (0-7) on Nov. 2, before returning home to face Sidwell Friends (1-5) on Friday night, Nov. 8.
Spalding's final game (Nov. 16) is on the road at Bishop Ireton
(2-4) in the Washington area. Ireton just dealt previously unbeaten Pope Paul VI (6-1) a 12-6 defeat this past weekend in the D.C. Metro League and will be a tough game for the Cavs, but they certainly have a chance to close with a win.
After the way things have gone the last couple years for the Cavaliers, it would be great to go 4-7 and even greater to finish at 5-6. It's within reason that the Cavs could do just that and anything beats 0-9.