On offense, Edmondson is all nerves. In the end, Jones decided to give quarterback Carroll Washington the start, but he's not getting rid of the ball fast enough and takes two ugly sacks. Quarterback James "Buddy" Thorne, who is rotating series with Carroll, looks no better. He keeps throwing off his back foot, missing wide receivers. Worst of all, on the rare occasions when Tariq breaks free, he is tentative, missing the few opportunities City does provide.
"If you kept running, we had them there," Walker growls at him after Edmondson fails to pick up a first down on third-and-five late in the first quarter. "C'mon, you better than that!"
FOR THE RECORD - An article on Page 1A Thursday about the Edmondson-Westside High School football team should have referred to the state championship game against McDonough High School from Southern Maryland, not the McDonogh School.
The Sun regrets the errors.
Jones and his staff sense that they are falling into the game plan of City's cunning coach, George Petrides, a master of winning games with defense while patiently playing for superior field position. Jones knows Petrides is just waiting for Edmondson to make a big mistake.
So far, Edmondson's defense has been as ferocious as City's. Twice in the first quarter, an Edmondson defensive player hits a City ball carrier so hard that the City player's helmet comes flying off. Edmondson's fans scream in appreciation.
But with less than a minute left in the first quarter, Edmondson's defense cracks. On third-and-14, City's sophomore quarterback, Ellis Foster, lofts a pass down the sidelines to a wide receiver. Neither of the Red Storm defenders sees the ball thrown, and the receiver out-jumps them both, hauling it in at the 18-yard line.
Jones again yanks his hat off, and his ropelike dreadlocks whip across his face as he turns to find Walker. "We've got to find the ball in the air! That's a play we got to have!"
Two plays later, Foster finds another receiver, Nathan Ayers, at the 5-yard line. He slips a tackle and stretches for the end zone.
Sterling and Kyle stand at the goal line -- hands on their hips -- in disbelief while City players and their fans celebrate. City adds a two-point conversion on an easy run by Foster.
City College 8, Edmondson 0.
"There is no reason they should have been down there in the first place," snarls Walker. "You gonna have to show me your hearts now.
`Snap out of it'
But the second quarter goes no better. Edmondson's defense plays doggedly, but the offense sputters, as if it is moving through ankle-deep mud. City's defensive line, anchored by a 6-foot-7, 330-pound junior named James Carmon, shoves Edmondson's offensive line backward as though the Red Storm players are on roller skates.
Six minutes before halftime, Edmondson falters again. A fumbled pitch gives the Knights the ball on the Red Storm 10-yard line. City's fans, sensing the possibility of burying Edmondson early, erupt.
Four plays later, they are rewarded. On fourth down, Edmondson's defense can do nothing to stop the 230-pound Roseborough as he bulls his way across the goal line.
Sterling hears Carmon mocking him. "Yeah, shorty," City's gigantic lineman bellows. "Yeah, shorty. We coming! We coming!"
The two-point conversion is almost a foregone conclusion.
City 16, Edmondson 0.
Dionta never would have believed that Edmondson could look helpless, not like this. "Why are we in this daze, yo?" he screams as the teams head to the locker rooms for halftime. "Snap out of it. This game ain't over yet. They think it's over, but it's not. They think we done, but we ain't! We ain't!"
Edmondson's band, looking nervous, shuffles onto the field for its halftime performance.
Inside the Edmondson locker room, Jones is stern with his team but not angry. Hasn't he always told them that football was just like life? You get knocked on the seat of your pants, you stand up. You fail a class, you study harder and take it again.
"I don't know what you worried about," he says. "We gonna win this game. I know it. We're good right now. I don't know why you keep missing so many tackles, but we good. ... It's real simple, though. You want to go out and fight? Or you want to sit here and make excuses?
"This is the reason you did all that work in the offseason, right here. This is it right here. I know ya'll got it in you. I seen ya'll do it against Linganore the first game of the year."
The problem, everyone knows, is that it's not Linganore out there.
A crucial mistake
Edmondson's first drive of the third quarter goes nowhere. Tariq gets bottled up at the line and can't break free. Another punt.
This time, however City makes a crucial mistake. The returner fumbles the punt deep in his territory. Edmondson, stymied until now, still has a chance to climb back into the game.
Buddy -- who spent the first half running for cover -- shows swagger for the first time all night. At the 45-yard line, he drops back, plants his back foot and completes a pass to Kareem Damon at the 20.
Edmondson puts the ball into Tariq's hands, and he pounds it forward. On his third straight run, he takes one quick jab step, makes a tackler miss and spurts into the end zone. Touchdown.
The band bursts into song. Here come the Red Storm!