For the North Harford Hawks, the 2009 football season was not the best when it came to facing the Hereford Bulls. Not once, but twice did the Hawks face-off against their foes, and twice did they end up on the losing end.
But 2010 is a new year, and with it comes a new result for the two–team showdown; North Harford one-upping Hereford, 31-21.
“This was an easy game to get up for having played them twice last year,” said Hawks’ head coach Ken Brinkman. “The win means a lot to us. It was a tough week with school starting and the heat getting to us a little during the week, but the boys prepared well, came out and played hard for 48 minutes which we knew we’d have to do.”
It didn’t take long for the feelings to show from the Hawks’ side of the ball. If the hype and energy wasn’t getting the point across, the 69-yard flea-flicker from senior running back Brandon Bayer to fellow senior Jeremy Skrzypiec down the right sideline for a 6-0 North Harford lead sure did.
“We were brainstorming all week and wanted to come out and surprise them because we were a little conservative last year,” Bayer explained, “and wanted to go get them on the first play. It happened to work. They weren’t ready.”
Two drives later, with a set up from a crunching forced fumble by senior Ben Kenley, the Hawks took to the air again to reach the endzone, this time with a seven-yard slant connection from senior quarterback Cody Turner to junior receiver Brady Maguire. A Bayer conversion would make it a 14-0 game.
“It was an automatic call,” Turner said. “We had that slant and just went for it.”
Reading the defense and calling a slant pattern is one thing, but Turner showed a great deal of his athleticism as well, making what his teammates referred to as a “possible play of the year” for a fourth quarter score.
Scoring the final points of a four-touchdown quarter, Turner composed himself after watching the snap go over his head, scrambled towards the left sideline and avoided the pressure to hit senior Phil Hemling down the sideline for a 63-yard touchdown miracle.
“Well, I decided what I was going to do once I looked back, but there was no one there, so I picked [the ball] up, came around the outside and was going to run out of bounds,” Turner said, explaining the play. “But I saw Phil waving his hands, so I chucked it down field and he was wide open.”
Turner completed 50 percent of passes on the night, going four-for-eight and throwing for nearly 100 yards and two touchdowns.
Other highlighted scores in the quarter included a 45-yard dive play from Kenley, rushing up the middle and into the endzone untouched, and two strikes from the Bulls; a five yard run from senior Vince DePaola, and a quick hitting pop pass from senior Greg Fultz to senior Tim Bristol for a 38-yard connection.
DePaola’s run capped off a 19-play drive, extending from the third quarter, where he totaled 13 carries.
Totaling more than 20 touches, DePaola earned every yard of his 131-yard night, busting up the middle and taking on the Hawks’ linebacking core.
With the quick hit scores, the Hawks didn’t have time to establish lengthy drives, and, in fact, recorded their longest drive of the night at eight plays before the 6-foot-3 senior kicking Tyler Lenane split the uprights to tack on the 17th North Harford point before the half.
But the Bulls are also a playoff returning team, and, despite losing a large portion of their starting players to graduation, strung together an 11-play drive to cover more than 60 yards and followed junior Will Bittner into the endzone for a 17-7 halftime score.
Top rushing numbers from the Hawks were posted by the touchdown throwing Bayer, starting his season off with an 84-yard night, and sharing the spotlight with Kenley, who racked up 54 yards with his touchdown performance.
“We have a lot more speed this year, and the option is working nice,” Bayer said. “The line was spreading them out, the holes were open for the fullback, and I got a few outside runs.”
With the big win under the Hawks’ wings, the birds will take to Rising Sun next Friday, while the Bulls will focus their efforts on taking on Eastern Tech at CCBC-Essex.
“It is a huge victory, but it’s a long way to go before the end of the season,” Brinkman explained. “Nine more games, and we know with this victory, everybody is going to be gunning for us to make their season.”
NH 14 3 0 14 31
HER 0 7 0 14 21