20 in a row! Fort Hill rolls in 49-7 victory over Walter Johnson


CUMBERLAND — Walter Johnson High School was named after a man called the Big Train, but on Saturday afternoon at Greenway Avenue Stadium it was Ty Johnson who scored four touchdowns and led the Big Red Locomotive to its 20th consecutive win, 49-7, over the Wildcats.

Johnson ran for 169 yards and three touchdowns — all in the first half — and caught a 28-yard touchdown in the second half to help the Sentinels match a mark set by the 1972-74 teams that also won 20 straight over the course of three seasons. Johnson, the area’s third- leading rusher entering the weekend with 134.8 yards a game, gained at least 10 yards on every carry but his last, and the only thing preventing him from gaining more than three yards on that run was the end zone. Alex Barnes ran for 73 yards on five carries and added an 18-yard touchdown as Fort Hill averaged more than 10 yards a carry by gaining 325 yards on 31 tries.

Everything moved quickly for Fort Hill in the first half, especially its possessions. The five-play march for the opening touchdown was the Sentinels’ longest scoring drive, though they had two drives that lasted longer but resulted in no points. Raen Smith ran in a four-yard touchdown with 10:18 left in the opening quarter for the first points, but it would be the final carry for Smith, who left after getting banged up.

After forcing a three-and-out for the Wildcats, the Sentinels fed Johnson for an 18-yard run and then again on the next play for a run of 29 yards that made it 15-0 after Lennon Squires, subbing for Rashaan Shives, who was injured Thursday, threw to Quade Raley for the two-point conversion.

The Sentinels third possession also lasted only two plays with Barnes running for seven yards on first down and Fort Hill calling on Johnson again for a 79-yard touchdown. Running away from the school, Johnson took the ball on a sweep to the left, but instead of outrunning his blockers, showed excellent patience, got the blocks he needed and then burnt the safety to make it 22-0 with 1:46 left in the first. It is the third straight week that Fort Hill was able to move at will in the first two quarters and get extra work for the second- and third- string players. Fort Hill coach Todd Appel sees that scenario as a mixed bag, carrying both positives and negatives.

“They are prepared to play a whole, entire game. Now that doesn’t happen all the time and I guess the last time they played a whole game was against Silver Oak. But they are mentally prepared to do this and I foresee them having to do it next week. Kent Island is a great football team — a (Maryland Class) 2A team — and were semifinalists last year. So we haven’t had to do it for a while, but I know the kids are ready.

“The one thing we’ve been able to get out of it is finding other kids to play. It’s really helped us for depth purposes. We’ve had some injuries and have been banged up, and it’s truly been a ‘next man in’ type of attitude with the kids. The next guy comes in and whoever it has been has done a great job for us.”

Barnes scored his 18-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, breaking a half dozen tackles along the way to make it 29-0, and Johnson scored on his three-yard run to make it 36-0 at halftime. Lennon Squires tossed his 28-yard touchdown to Johnson during the third quarter and Xavier Trimble scored from two yards out late in the fourth quarter with the 35-point rule running out the clock. Trenton Moore had an 11-yard touchdown for the Wildcats in the fourth quarter and led Walter Johnson with 54 yards on 13 attempts. Kris Jackson had an interception and a fumble recovery for Fort Hill. He returned the interception for a touchdown, but a penalty negated the score.

The Sentinels can set a school record on Friday with their 21st consecutive win if they beat Kent Island, but the streak is the furthest thing from the Sentinels’ minds. “We just try to work hard and have the kids work hard,” Appel said. “If its something that people want to talk about, that’s cool. For us, though, we’ve won six games and are getting ready for the seventh. I don’t really even know much about the 20 wins. I just try to do my best to get the kids to do their best to win every game. We want to make good football players and good people out of those players, and win football games.”

The Sentinels will host the 6-0 Buccaneers, who beat Colonel Richardson 44-0 on Friday, at 7 o’clock.