Dominant in every facet, Brunswick rolls over Rock Ridge
BRUNSWICK — After fielding the opening kickoff, Brunswick junior Tony Rakowski darted toward the left sideline, where Railroaders like senior defensive lineman Agya Baffoe were standing.
“I honestly thought he was going to get tackled,” Baffoe said. “But he broke away. Just a great opening to the game, just took the life out of them, and then we just ran it up from there.”
Rakowski was in the process of breaking a 78-yard touchdown return, delivering the first of many blows on a night when the Railroaders dominated every facet of the game against a Rock Ridge (Virginia) team that appeared to be overmatched.
By the end of the first quarter, Brunswick already enjoyed a 35-point lead and was well on its way to a 52-8 win over the Phoenix.
It was the third straight win for the Railroaders (3-1), who were coming off a huge road victory against one of their rivals, Boonsboro, and carried momentum from that triumph into all-important practices this week.
“We worked harder because we came off an emotional win. We want to stay focused, we want to stay locked in,” Rakowski said. “We came out here and we performed.”
Brunswick’s offense was unstoppable in the first quarter. Ethan Houck tossed a long spiral to a wide-open Isaac Herbert for a 26-yard touchdown, versatile senior Michael Souders scored on wildcat runs of 3 and 24 yards and Devin Philips sped around the left corner for a 51-yard touchdown dash.
Meanwhile, defenders like Baffoe, Scott Haste and Brice Bell held the Phoenix to 14 yards in the first quarter, setting the tone for a unit that never gave up any points — Rock Ridge’s touchdown came on Akshat Thakur’s pick six in the third quarter.
And Rakowski’s kickoff return TD foreshadowed a dominant night for Brunswick’s special teams, which got highlight-reel tackles by players like Ty Lawson and a 32-yard field goal from Samuel Verosto.
“What we’re seeing is the result of good practices, and day in and day out, we’re getting better at practicing,” Brunswick coach Jerry Smith said. “It’s been a little bit of an adjustment because we’ve got a lot of young guys.”
Such players need to learn how to be mentally tuned in and secure with their assignments. Smith has seen steady improvement with such things, allowing Brunswick to perform tasks that help them in games like last week’s 20-13 win over Boonsboro.
The Railroaders weren’t flawless against Rock Ridge. A dropped pass prevented Houck, a freshman who completed 3 of 4 passes for 48 yards and no interceptions, from getting another TDP.
But practice paid off in numerous instances, including Rakowski’s game-opening return.
“Nothing really to it, it’s just what we practice. We put in work, and we take full opportunity of what we get,” said Rakowski, who spotted running room on the left sideline. “I saw, outside, a lot of open space, so that’s where I took it, and I had my guy Michael Souders [blocking].”
Ben Wells led Brunswick’s ground game, rushing for 89 yards on nine carries. JT Harich scored on a 9-yard run, and backup quarterback Jacob Genos — a freshman — scored on a 5-yard keeper.
Meanwhile, Brunswick’s defense consistently thwarted a Rock Ridge offense that attempted just one pass and coughed up three fumbles.
“On defense, if we are able to push it backward, it causes them to scramble,” Baffoe said. “And then our people behind us, our skill players, our fancy boys, can make the plays.”