Arundel High football coach Jack Walsh has a message for his team when they lose. It’s run through the Wildcat program since Chuck Markiewicz was at the helm.
“We lost. We’re not losers,” he said.
That’s why when Arundel sat in the press room at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium Friday evening, the players and Walsh sat with their heads held high.
The Wildcats may have lost in the Class 4A/3A State final to North Point, 31-14, but they knew almost every other high school in the state of Maryland would trade places with them.
“Life goes on tomorrow,” Walsh said. “Tomorrow I have to do the dishes. Tomorrow I have to take the trash out, win or lose. It’d be nice to do it with a ring on my finger, but life goes on.”
For Arundel to make it to nearby Navy Stadium to play in the state final was almost a small miracle in itself.
It hadn’t played in a state final since 2007. Starting quarterback Gavin Kamachi was lost for the season with a broken collarbone in the state quarterfinal win over Seneca Valley. Backup quarterback Andre Dobson was hobbled with a sprained ankle.
The Wildcats (10-3 overall) relied on senior back Ahmad Taylor as their signal-caller in the state semifinal game, a 6-0 win against Dundalk. It wasn’t clear coming into the game if Taylor was still going to be leading the offense, or if Dobson could return.
On the first drive, Dobson took the first snap. He fired a two yard pass to Chris Downs on first down, but Arundel punted it away three plays later.
North Point (11-3), playing with a backup quarterback of its own, found quicker success. Kaleb Hart found Xavier Herbert 42 yards down the field for a touchdown on the Eagles first play.
Peter Beil kicked a 34-yard field goal, followed by Tyrone Hudson scoring from four yards out. Arundel was quickly down 17-0.
The two teams traded punts throughout the second quarter. Arundel was down three scores at halftime, but Walsh knew if the Wildcats went out and had fun, something could happen.
And it did.
The Wildcats forced a North Point punt to start the second half. Dobson found DeJuan Bowdry for a 21-yard touchdown.
On the ensuing kickoff, Arundel recovered a fumble. Two plays later, Dotson hit a streaking Chris Downs for a 42-yard touchdown.
“I trusted him (Dobson),” Downs said. “Before we even walked on this field, I trusted him. I knew he had the ability to make that type of pass. I’d seen it in practice all week.”
In a blink, Arundel was within a score. All the momentum was with the Wildcats.
North Point seized it back, however. After the two teams traded punts, Hart found Trevon Alderson 43 yards downfield in the end zone to make it a two-score game again.
Hart added a 27-yard rushing touchdown to seal the win for the Eagles, who allowed their first touchdown in nearly five games.
“We can’t lose our minds just because we got scored upon,” North Point coach Chris Condo said. “It kinda settled us down, we were able to work through that and put up another score on the board.”
North Point brings home its first ever state title back to Charles County. Arundel will bring its memories of making it to the last game of the season.
Because as Markiewicz taught Walsh, and what Walsh teaches his team, life will go on.
“I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life,” Downs said. “When I’m 40, no matter where I’m at, behind a desk or on a yacht, I’m gonna remember playing in a Arundel state football championship.”
CLASS 4A/3A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
NORTH POINT 31, NO. 10 ARUNDEL 14
North Point 17 0 7 7 — 31
Arundel 0 0 14 0 — 14
North Point - Xavier Herbert 42 pass from Kaleb Hart (Peter Beil kick)
North Point - Beil 34 field goal
North Point - Tyrone Hudson 4 run (Beil kick)
Arundel - DeJuan Bowdry 21 pass from Andre Dobson (Camden Neiswender kick)
Arundel - Chris Downs 42 pass from Dobson (Neiswender kick)
North Point - Trevon Alderson 43 pass from Hart (Beil kick)
North Point - Hart 27 run (Beil kick)