Other than the obvious clash of uniforms and the elimination of special teams play, everything else that began at noon March 27 at the Potomac School in McLean in an impromptu replacement game was like an authentic varsity high-school football contest.
What originally was supposed to happen at the time and place was a showdown between the rival Flint Hill Huskies and host Potomac School Panthers. That game was canceled when Flint Hill had COVID issues.
In its place, instead, Potomac School coaches and athletic administrators quickly decided to hold a 40-minute intersquad game. It featured the Potomac School White versus the Potomac School Blue, won by the home-side White, 26-0, with all the scoring in the second half.
The event was not a scrimmage, when coaches are traditionally on the field with the players. They were on the sidelines, switching sides during breaks in the action.
The clash of Panthers had the ingredients of a real lively hard-tackling genuine contest, with a working scoreboard and paid whistle-blowing officials. Those officials threw penalty flags, there was a halftime, more joking than usual by all, not as much typical trash talking heard, and the Potomac School training staff was on hand, and not very busy.
“We were disappointed we couldn’t play Flint Hill, but we still wanted to have something and this is working out,” said new Potomac School athletic director Erica Woda, who worked the first-down chains for the entire game along with former AD Rob Lee.
Potomac School coach Blake Henry thought the event was beneficial, continuing the heavy instruction he and his staff have implemented since the delayed and shortened season was started just a few weeks ago.
Much teaching and instruction occurred during the intersquad, with specific detailed banter directed at players that is not often heard during real games.
There was no punting or place kicking. If a team wanted to punt, the ball was advanced 30 yards and turned over to the other team. Most of the time, each offense used all four downs.
The teams had the same color and style of helmets and logos, but there was a Blue squad and a White, and there were more water breaks than a normal game. Every healthy player saw action. At least four quarterbacks were used.
The only spectators allowed were the parents of the Potomac School seniors, who were honored before the contest.
As for the scoring, the White took a 6-0 lead when speedy Brandon Potts ran 46 yards after catching a flanker-screen pass from quarterback Chris Joe with 4:54 left in the third quarter.
The lead increased to 12-0 with 1:40 left in the third when Elie DeLaVille returned a fumble 20 yards to pay dirt following a big hit on a quarterback sack.
In the fourth, Marcus Burrell passed 12 yards to Anders Gyllenhoff for a touchdown, followed by Nicholas Webster’s two-point conversion run for a 20-0 lead.
The scoring ended on Webster’s 17-yard TD with 36 seconds to play. The score was set up by Burrell’s 30-yard run.
Atiba de Souza was the starting quarterback for the Blue team with David Hyde and Jeremy DelaVille the leading rusher and Devin Dunn a top receiver for that side.
For the Blue on defense, Luke O’Reilly broke up a potential touchdown pass late in the third quarter.