Maverick Varsity Football is 4-1 (1-1). Teams from ’04, ’05, ’06, ’07, ’09, ’10, also started the season at 4-1. The best start in recent history was 2012 when they were 5-1. In order for this year’s Mavericks to match that record, they will need to defeat cross-town rival Episcopal on October 20th. The last Maverick win over the Knights was a 35-18 victory on Skip Lee Field in 2011, one year after blanking them 28-0 at EHS. A common denominator in those wins over EHS was #10 Chris Gow ’12, starting at safety and quarterback, respectively.
Another dramatic win in the series also involved a Gow: in 2007 the Mavericks upset the Knights 35-28 at Episcopal. In that contest, the Mavericks went up 28-21 late in the fourth quarter, but Episcopal tied it with 3:11 remaining. Facing 4th down and 3 at the Knights 45 yard-line with 31 seconds to go, QB #10 Lawson Gow’s ’08 pass found the hands of TE John McCarthy ’08 for the game-winner. The four-game losing skid to EHS stopped, and SJS-EHS rivalry turned up a notch.
The current Mavs are coming off a bye week on the schedule and have used the extra preparation to have a chance to topple EHS (3-0), something they have not done in the last five meetings. With sky-high stats, #10 Wesley Gow ’19 on their side, and total team chemistry, the Mavericks might have enough substance to make it work.
By the numbers, the latest 4-1 Mavericks have racked up 187 points, made 109 first downs, and compiled over 2000 yards of offense. The defense has recorded 179.5 tackles (25 for a loss of 150 yards), 4 interceptions, and 14 sacks. The latest #10 Gow starting at QB has passed for over 1000 yards and added more than 300 on the ground. He is complemented by leading rusher Malcolm Sturgis ’19 (455 yds), and receivers Charles Sampson ’18 (531 yds) and Gensen Hooper-Price ’19 (395 yds). More than names or numbers, however, it’s the team chemistry that’s proving to be the invisible force, bonding all the players into a powerful team.
“The one thing that stands out is that everyone is excited about football—seniors, juniors, and sophomores,” said Head Coach Steve Gleaves. “Our eight Seniors have set the tone for all the players to be a part of the process. They are not the rah-rah type of leaders, and they trust their teammates. The Juniors are the more vocal part of the team. We also tried something new by adding a pre-practice routine with a metal chain.”
At the beginning of the season, the team implemented a new tradition of carrying a linked chain from the locker room to practice with all players holding the chain, which weighs over 60 lbs. Players slowly march in line holding the chain from the SSAC to Field 2 or through the middle school walk-way to the turf field across Buffalo Speedway.
“This year has a different feeling,” said junior tackle Harrison Fernelius. “We are more excited, and we are picking each other up, regardless of grade level. The chain is really good because it helps us to have something tangible to think about everyone is a link in the chain. No matter what your role, if you are starting or not, you are helping someone get better and therefore, helping the team get better.”
“Our summer workouts and morning workouts with Coach Campbell and all that togetherness have created the bond we have now,” said Peter Chen ’17. “We are still holding the chain.”
“I think Coach Gleaves’ idea to promote team chemistry with the chain has played a big part,” said sophomore Cameron Howley. “The first day everyone was complaining about it, but now we acknowledge this is part of who we are.”
“Since two-a-days and summer workouts we have gotten to be close,” said Gow. “It shows that when we have chemistry we perform. I like the chain. When everyone on the team is holding it, it feels light, but if you were to carry it yourself it would be very heavy.”
As the season moves forward, the bonds between teammates become stronger, and excitement outweighs the work. And once again, 10 might be the number that tips SJS + EHS equation back in St. John’s favor.
Postgame: St. John's had the lead 21-14 late in the second quarter, but the Knights ran away from the Mavs winning 49-28. St. John's is 1-2 in the SPC.
Sam Chambers – Athletic News