When it comes to being a consistent winner, River Hill is almost always in the discussion when it comes to Maryland high school football.
The Howard County power has won four state titles in the past seven seasons and is hoping to add to that collection in 2014. The Hawks, who had won state titles in 2011 and 2012, are coming off a 10-3 season, which ended with a Class 3A semifinal loss to Frederick County’s Linganore.
"Around here the expectations are so high and some of that is coming from within,” said River Hill head football coach Brian Van Deusen. "We had 119 wins over the last 10 years. Year in and year out the expectation is ‘hey, we're in the playoffs, and we're moving on and we're trying to compete for that state championship.’"
But, River Hill knows there will be several challenges along the way. This could include defending Howard County champion Glenelg, along with Hammond and Howard, the latter two defeated the Hawks 47-38 and 21-3, respectively last season.
Adding to that, Hammond’s win over River Hill last season snapped the Hawks’ 30-game winning streak.
"Our expectations of the year are to get better each week,” Van Deusen said. “That's kind of our focus. We don't want to look too far ahead. Just keeping it one week at a time. If we continue to improve each week we think we'll be competing for that state championship like we have for the last seven, eight years."
Van Deusen said he considers the offensive line is among the strengths of his team. This includes 6-foot-4, 295-pound senior Tyler Smith, who has offers to play at Bryant and Rhode Island. Also returning on the offensive line are 6-foot-3, 255-pound Robert Haid, and 6-foot-1, 245-poind Michael Olujobi, both of whom are seniors.
"Our team strengths are definitely our linemen up front,” Van Deusen said. “We're really proud of our offseason weight training. The kids had a good off-season. They dedicated themselves in the weight room and we got bigger, faster and stronger.
“And it shows up front. Up front, I think up front we're average about 250 pounds across the line. We've got three returning starters on the O-line. And that's where it starts. We got to dominate the line of scrimmage."
On the flip side, Van Deusen said his team may be hampered by inexperience at several key positions, including at running back, where the Hawks lost their top three players at the position. However, the Hawks do have senior running back Jon Kanda back, who has an offer to Bucknell, with other schools interested.
"We have a talented group,” Van Deusen said. “We're excited about what we have coming, just right now we're a little inexperienced there. Keeping that focus on getting better each week, getting the plays down, getting our assignments down and just working on running the ball hard. I think that'll get better each week."
- Sept. 5 vs. Glenelg, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 12 at Marriotts Ridge, 7 p.m
- Sept. 19 vs. Atholton, 7 p.m
- Sept. 26 at Centennial, 7 p.m
- Oct. 2 vs. Mount Hebron, 6 p.m.
- Oct. 10 vs. Wilde Lake, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 18 at Hammond, 12 p.m.
- Oct. 24 at Oakland Mills, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 31 at Howard, 7 p.m.
- Nov. 7 vs Reservoir, 7 p.m.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
- Tyler Smith (OL, 6-4, 295, Sr.)
- Robert Haid (OL, 6-3, 255, Sr.)
- Chuck McLaughlin (WR, 6-0, 175, Sr.)
- Jon Kanda (RB, 6-4, 215, Sr.)
- Michael Olujobi (OL, 6-1, 245, Sr.)
- Silas Rozario (RB, 5-6, 165, Sr.)
- Brian Kirby (LB, 6-1, 220, Sr.)
- Jacob Howland (LB, 6-1, 210, Jr.)
- Patrick Gover (LB, 6-1, 175, Jr.)
- Kyle McGil (DB, 6-1, 175, DB)
- Sean Guthier (LB, 5-10, 170, Jr.)