With three juniors, a sophomore and a freshman up front, the offensive line was a concern for St. Mark’s during the preseason.
But when the lights went on Friday night, Foster Holland, Ryan Ermak, Kenan Megahed, Keith Medley, John Dougherty and tight end Mike Adams flexed plenty of muscle in the Spartans’ 28-0, season-opening home victory over William Penn.
“Our young offensive line did a good job up front, getting a nice surge and pushing the pile,” St. Mark’s coach John Wilson said. “I knew [William Penn] would try to load the box in the red zone, and I thought our young line handled it well.”
They certainly did, paving the way for 122 yards and two touchdowns from T.J. Brown and 69 yards and another score from Markquise Normand. Almost all of the Spartans’ 260 total rushing yards came between the tackles.
“The line was really opening up the holes and making it easy for me,” Brown said.
The game was closer than the score indicated, as William Penn (0-1) moved the ball well and had three drives stopped on downs at the St. Mark’s 20-, 22- and 8-yard lines.
“We made sophomore mistakes,” said Marvin Dooley, the new coach of the Colonials. “You drive the ball, then make a mistake and get a 5- or 10-yard penalty and it throws you out of rhythm.”
The Spartans (1-0) found their rhythm on their second drive, rolling 46 yards in six plays after St. Mark’s linebacker Brendan Fogarty recovered a fumble. Brown carried five times on the drive, including a 7-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead.
St. Mark’s churned out 78 yards in 11 plays late in the first half, with Brown ripping off a 23-yard gain, breaking five tackles on another 18-yard burst and scoring from the 2 to make it 14-0 with 1:22 left in the half.
The Spartans seized the momentum immediately in the second half, as Normand sprinted through the right side for a 45-yard run. Two plays later, Zach Whitehead threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Rhett Schweizer for a 21-0 lead with 10:41 remaining in the third quarter.
“I just saw a hole,” Normand said of his big run. “We’ve been working on that play, striving for a couple of weeks now. I just took it and made a play.”
Normand finished the scoring with a 5-yard run with 3:58 left in the third quarter.
The Colonials managed 162 yards on the ground, with Reggie Carroll gaining 122 on 19 carries. But William Penn went 0 for 8 passing.
“I told my guys this is a marathon run,” Dooley said. “This is the first mile of a marathon, and you’ve got to build from it. We’ve got Sallies next week, so there’s no time to pout about it.”