When seven of your 10 games go down to the final two or three minutes and you lose four of those games, the following season can be a joy or a disaster.
Young teams usually go one way or the other with no in-between.
Annapolis coach Roy Brown hopes his Panthers take the joyous route.
Brown's junior-sophomore-dominated Panthers (29 of 45 were underclassmen) went 6-4 overall and 6-3 in the county 4A league in 1991, but it very easily could have been a 10-0 season.
"We lost some pretty tough games last year and I hope the experience profits us this year," said Brown, whose Panthers spent much of their season in heartbreak hotel.
The 1991 season started and ended the same way -- losses at home on the final play. Randallstown of Baltimore County took the season-opener for both in the Cap City by 18-17 on the game's final play from the one-yard line.
Archrival Severna Park (7-3) took a 16-14 thriller on a six-yard touchdown pass from Tim Bowerman to John Milisitz with time expired on Riva Road.
The victory gave Severna Park a share of the county 4A league title with North County and Old Mill (7-2 each in league action).
"That was the third straight year we had a chance in the final game with Severna Park to tie for the county title," said Brown.
Sandwiched in between the opening and ending heart breaks for the Panthers were final-minute losses to Arundel by 15-13 and to Old Mill by 22-14 in OT.
What was encouraging to Brown and his staff was the team's youth, and the coaches hope the 1991 season pays off in 1992.
Brown intends to spread out more on offense this fall to take full advantage of his team's speed and quickness.
The Panthers plan to run more wing and slot formations and expect big things from the quarterback position where juniors Juan Johnson and Chris Johnson (no relation) are vying for the starting position.
"Both are excellent quarterbacks," said Brown, who hinted at a QB shuttle. "Juan started most of the season for us last year and right now has the edge, but Chris is very capable. We may use both of them in games."
Juan completed 37-of-72 passes (.513 percent) for 616 yards and 10 TD passes and was intercepted 10 times.
Brown also has four running backs with promise in senior Shawn Taylor, juniors Kevin Belt and Kenny Boyd and sophomore Orlando Downs.
Belt saw varsity action last year while Boyd and Downs are JV grads and Taylor played two years ago on the varsity.
Taylor transferred back to Annapolis after spending a year at Old Mill without playing football.
"Defensively we should be fine, too, but my biggest worry is lack of depth," said Brown, who has pared down his squad from 60 to 40 players.
"The way our season went last year was evident of how balanced our league is, and it shouldn't be any different this year from what I've been hearing. Maybe things will go our way more often this year."