When Jay Molnar took the final snap against Winters Mill on Aug. 31, he executed what the vast majority of teams and fans consider the most insignificant and boring plays in all of sports: the quarterback kneel.
To Oakdale High School, that 2-yard loss was the most brilliant play in its two-year varsity history.
“It’s always the play everyone wants to run,” said senior fullback Mike McGraw.
A kneel-down typically signals the end of the game, and a lot of fans don’t see it because they’re headed for the exits. But on that Friday, Bears fans swallowed up the field well after time expired in Oakdale’s 28-6 victory — the first varsity football win in the school’s history.
“All the kids rushed the field, the student section was huge. We had a great crowd,” said coach Kurt Stein. “After 20 minutes we were finally able to work through the crowd and talk to them. I just told them I was proud of them and I loved them and that we’re just getting started.”
The following week was “like a Super Bowl hangover,” Molnar said. “The whole school was uplifted. We felt great.”
McGraw said that between every class the hallways were populated by an elated student body eager to dole out congratulations, high fives and pats on the back.
The win, he said, “was without a doubt one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had in my entire life, just knowing what it meant to the school.”
But the self-diagnosed hangover carried over to last Friday’s game against Century, as Oakdale felt a sensation it had never experienced before.
“We almost had a complacency,” Molnar said of the Bears’ 34-21 loss.
With the thirst for the program’s first win fully quenched, the Bears didn’t have the edge they did against Winters Mill, and it showed. Knights’ running back Tyrice Rock gashed Oakdale for 268 yards on the ground and scored four touchdowns.
“We definitely went in with a bit of an ego,” Molnar said. “And that got shut off real quick. Now it’s time to buckle up.”
Oakdale has one more out-of-county game remaining, at home on Friday against North Hagerstown (1-1), which scored 66 points in its season opener. Then it’s the challenging Frederick portion of the schedule. If it’s buckling up that the Bears need to do, they’ll need a good seat belt.
Next week they face Linganore, then a Sept. 28 date against defending Maryland 2A champion Middletown. Then it’s Frederick — which beat Century by two points — at Urbana, home against a Walkersville team that has gobbled up yards at will this season, home against Thomas Johnson, and at Tuscarora.
“We just gotta take it one week at a time,” Stein said. “Every team we play is good, and that’s the truth. We play seven of the toughest weeks of football you can play.”
If the Bears front four struggles like it did against Century, Middletown’s Zach Welch and Thomas Johnson’s Richy Anderson, a Maryland recruit, could produce impressive performances.
With the proverbial monkey off their back and the post-win high long gone, McGraw said the Bears are ready to work like they did in the week leading up to the Winters Mill game.
“We know it’s a very tough schedule and we know Frederick County is by far one of the toughest in the state,” he said. “After the Century game we all got in the locker room and said, ‘We all gotta buckle down and take things more seriously and if we do, we’re gonna be all right.’ We’re proud to be on the team we’re on and we’re gonna fight every week.”