When the Broadneck football team lost its first two games by a totalof seven points, Coach Jeff Herrick didn't see the entire season caving in.
"But I was thinking about the luck factor," he said.
That's bad luck -- the same kind that has hounded the Bruins since Herrick's arrival three years ago.
He thought back to last season, when four losses by a combined nine points contributed to a disappointing 3-7 record. And he wondered how his players would endure another year of mounting frustration.
He may never know because the Bruins' luck apparently has changed.
They split their next two games-- defeating Arundel, 14-7, and losing to Annapolis, 12-0 -- before reeling off three straight victories. Included in the streak is a 6-3upset of previously undefeated Old Mill at Broadneck's homecoming Oct. 12: "The biggest win I've had since I've been here," Herrick said.
"Needless to say, the kids were elated," he said. "People were asking, 'What in the world are you playing them for on homecoming?' butwe're not afraid to play anybody. We believe we can beat anybody, sowe don't really care who we play."
That includes tomorrow's opponent, Severna Park, a team that never has lost to Broadneck.
Both squads are 4-3, with the Falcons coming off a 28-20 loss to North County that all but ended their hopes of returning to the state playoffs.
Severna Park took a beating last Friday, with running backs John Jennings, Aaron Cree and Gerald Cager leaving in the first half with injuries. All three are expected to play tomorrow, but Coach Andy Borland said some other players are questionable.
"When you don't have the depth that we've had in the past, when you get hurt, you have aproblem," Borland said.
But Herrick disputes the notion that he'scatching the Falcons, who had a three-game winning streak snapped byNorth County, at a vulnerable time.
"These kids all know each other real well. They basically come from the same neighborhood," he said. "It doesn't matter what the records are or who's in first place. The kids just want to play each other. It's a real big rivalry."
Having seen the Bruins three times this season, Borland said he is mostimpressed with their defense, which has allowed only 18 points in the past three games. "That always concerns me," he said.
Herrick spent the early part of the season worrying about his sputtering offense, which only managed an overtime field goal in a season-opening 6-3 loss to South River, another team Broadneck never has defeated.
A change at quarterback three weeks ago, with senior Mike Strohman replacing junior Brian Tate, and some reshuffling in the backfield has made a noticeable difference. The Bruins registered their two highest point totals in the last three games, a 19-7 win over Queen Anne's anda 33-8 rout of Chesapeake.
Strohman, in his first year in the Broadneck football program, is 14-of-34 for 141 yards and one touchdown.He also leads the Bruins with two interceptions from his safety position.
"Ever since (Strohman) has started, the offense has picked up a little," said Herrick, who inserted David McCauley (201 yards rushing and one touchdown) at full back and divided the halfback chores between Chuck Eaton (team-high 253 yards rushing) and Larry Krzyzaniak.
"We started the year throwing a little bit, but that kind of curtailed until Mike started getting used to things. He can throw; it'sjust a matter of what the situation is."
But the defense, where linemen Jamal Muse, Steve Bruso and Brandon Lawrence will test the Falcons' suspect offensive line, and the special teams still play a major role in the scoring.
The only points against Old Mill came on a blocked punt by Mike Gruentzel in the fourth quarter that Bruso recovered in the end zone. Bruso also had a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown against Queen Anne's, and the Bruins recorded a safety,five fumble recoveries and three interceptions against Chesapeake.
"Sometimes, we feel like we better gear down and play some offense," senior tackle Alex Waddell said. "We've had some bad breaks offensively, but the defense has been there to back us up."
Herrick says the personnel changes "moved things up a notch, but we're still not apower-oriented offense."
"We're still relying on our defense," hesaid, "but with Strohman and the backs coming around, it should be interesting the past three games."