But North Point didn’t need another zero from their defense at Friday night’s Maryland 4A/3A Championship at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. It just needed it to do the things a good defense does: start the game strong, hold up a rally, and make a few crucial stops. The group obligated and helped the Eagles to a 31-14 win over Arundel and the first state title in program history.
“In practice, the defensive coaches train us to be young men in this field,” said junior linebacker Kamari Loving. “And I think that’s what sets us apart from most of these high schools. … This team really only lives from the defense.”
Friday’s celebratory scene in Annapolis was a joyous conclusion to what began as a precarious campaign. After an offseason that saw coach Tom Petre step down in July and be replaced on an interim basis by Billy Condo, North Point has taken some time to adjust to this fall. They started the year 2-0, a narrow loss to powerhouse Wise, followed by a surprise loss to Great Mills. Condo preached patience, telling his team that the only thing that mattered was how they ended the year.
“One of our coaches likes to start every year with, ‘This is the year they’re going to make a movie about us,’ and we laugh and joke about the casting,” Condo said. “Certainly this film had a lot of plot twists. At 0:2 it didn’t look so great. But those kids just kept working and we knew we were going to be a good football team. It was only a matter of time.”
On Friday night, the Eagles (11-3) ended the year with a full effort from the opening kickoff. After forcing a three-and-out from Arundel to start the game, North Point used their first offensive play to make a statement. Quarterback Kaleb Hart faked a handoff to Tyrone Hudson, who had returned as a bell cow, and dropped back to pass and hit Xavier Herbert at a deep post for a 42-yard touchdown. The Eagles, who made it here largely for their defense and running game, said they can do just about anything. At the end of the first quarter, they led 17-0.
Arundel, who lost two quarterbacks to injuries, failed to execute his usual high-flying spread offense and looked a step behind North Point early on. The Wildcats (10-3), a robust contender from Anne Arundel County, showed some of that struggle in the third quarter when they scored two long touchdowns in a stunning 50-second span to get back into the game. Defense and Hart’s arm combined to end that hype when North Point produced a stop and junior quarterback Trevon Alderson hit with a 43-yard touchdown just before the end of the third quarter to restore a two-point lead. In the fourth, Hart made a score to end things for good.