Old Mill – 4A State Champion – 36 to 35 OT win over Quince Orchard
I am the only photographer to have seen both Old Mill’s and Quince Orchard’s Homecoming events in action in 2011 and thus understood what was ahead for both groups of fans. I can honestly say I saw this Friday night state title fight coming in October.
I was covering yearbook photography for LifeTouch for Old Mill’s Homecoming in Millersville, MD on October 15th. I shot their early Saturday morning parade, walked the neighborhoods, photo’d the marching band, the students, the fans, and yes eventually the afternoon game against a congenial 3A opponent, Annapolis High. Rob Chesson, star halfback, had a full day running up and down the field for 6 TD’s. Meanwhile, no Annapolis or Baltimore paper-photog covered their sideline. It was considered a cakewalk for OM.
Before each game begins Old Mill players align on the backline of the end zone in dramatic fashion all standing erect – with helmets at their feet. It was at their homecoming that I started up a conversation with a dozen OM players. Basically, I told them I had covered QO and that if all went well they and QO would meet at states.
So, Friday at states OM aligned in the same pre-game fashion – I went up to photograph them and reminded those within earshot of their homecoming game.
Yes, a few recalled the conversation. Just then they had to move out of their alignment to make room for the QO Band, the Cheerleaders – the paper banner, and the home field football team. They had to wait until QO completed their home crowd-pleasing entry . The match was set. No longer were they the best – for the moment and up through 47 minutes and 44 seconds of the game – they were second best.
Cue for OM, this is how it is done even after an undefeated season of running over opponents. QO fans are the “Gold” standard.
QO student behavior and fans are the exchange rate by which opposing teams can measure themselves. I have shot all over the Washington Metro area – done title games – other sporting events – only the students and fans of Stone Bridge in Ashburn VA match QO’s level.
Give the OM students kudos. If they see something good – they will match it. On OM’s sideline at states hung a banner titled “The White Army.” Was it a bow to QO’s RED Army? Who know’s? I can attest this much that OM’s banner was nowhere to be found in Millersville on October 15th. Note, I hope that the OM Administration will have the forethought to take some future steps to retitle that banner to a more – shall we say – appealing rally statement. My suggestion, “the Red/White & BLUE” Army works for the patriot in me.
Well, as for the game. It had a perfect ending. Some one won it – no one lost it
High school students make mistakes – especially when the clock is running at game’s end. No missed extra point kick from 28 yards out, after a taunting penalty in the end zone on the prior play. No run back of an interception, no 15-yard personal foul penalty for a late hit out of bounds. No single event or young adult football mistake had the consequence of losing this game. QO (and OM) fans never let up – never lost it – from the playing field it sounded as a frenzied rabid cacophony of support.
After time expired it became a game of man-on-man from 10 yards out – both teams at their best. QO walked this OT road before – OM was never challenged in this manner all year. Both teams scored touchdowns from 10 yards out, this could have gone on all night.
It ended, as it should – on a great call. OM Coach Chad McCormick played the numbers game with his team trailing 34 to 35 and with the extra point conversion attempt in the balance. Choosing not to face the QO defense once again he called upon Chesson for what would be his last senior play.
Chesson stats at this point were 25 carries for 152 yards – well below his average – and on this Friday evening netting out his first quarter 76-yard carry – QO’s stout defense had held Chesson to 3.1 yards/carry and 0 points. McCormick had a no-brainer. Call on #1 for the conversion attempt. Chesson responded by leaping and carrying from my viewpoint – linebackers Newby, Lang and St. Regis into the end zone with him. Man on man. Chesson won it.
If today you asked Rob Chesson which slice of life moment(s) would he trade for that two yard run – would he trade any or all of his 49 state record TD runs for this OT moment? My bet is he’d give it all up in a heartbeat for that two-point conversion run. Fortunately, for him he has all 49 TD’s and that two-point run for a state championship to remember.
Years from now a present day RED Army QO student will marry a present day White (BLUE) OM student, or meet in college, or work with one, or sit at a bar together and they will recall the events of Friday night December 2, 2011. It will be like the Springsteen song – Glory Days.
May the future begin.
Left-Hanging Retrospective: If there could be just one thing that could have been done differently it would be my wish to have had the QO team flood their sideline stands prior to the award ceremony to high-five their GOLD STANDARD of this state’s best High School fandom. They, fans and team alike, all deserved that closing slice of life moment.