It was an innocent enough looking screen pass, only it ended up in the hands of Stefon Diggs, the most dynamic player on the field who can score at a side-step’s notice. And that’s exactly what he would do. The rising sophomore wide receiver for the University of Maryland, College Park hauled in a pass in the flat — the most used and easily the most potent option of Friday’s Red-White spring football game— cut back towards the middle of the field and outran the host of red-clad players the remaining 51 yards for the touchdown.
The star was back at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium.
Diggs, a graduate from Our Lady of Good Counsel High School who finished with more than 900 return yards and two touchdowns in his inaugural season as a Terrapin last fall, concluded the night with a game-high eight receptions and 158 receiving yards. He amassed more yards through the air Friday — though most of his yards came on catch and runs — himself than the entire Red team combined.
“I had an OK game,” Diggs, a member of the White team, said afterwards. “Ricardo [Young] played big, [offensive] line blocked well and we just played as a collective unit on both sides of the ball.”
Diggs’ score late in the third quarter was a rare crowd-pleaser in an otherwise possession-minded game that included eight punts and six turnovers (three interceptions, three on downs) and finished in a 13-13 tie.
“I thought it was really good tonight,” coach Randy Edsall said. “I was very impressed with the effort and intensity and the hitting that took place. The kids really came out and got after it. ... I couldn’t be more pleased with what has taken place in the last 15 days we had during the spring. It culminated tonight with a good effort from everyone out here.”
Diggs’ former teammate at Good Counsel, Zach Dancel, playing for the Red team, put together a solid, all-around day at defensive back during an evening which Edsall said he told his defense to take it easy. Dancel, one of five former Good Counsel players on the active roster, picked off a pass late in the fourth quarter and returned it 21 yards to set up Brad Craddock for the game-tying field goal and added five tackles throughout.
“There were some guys who made individual plays,” Edsall said. “[Jeremiah Johnson] made the pick; Zach Dancel made the pick. Some guys had sacks.”
Northwest grad and rising senior Marcus Whitfield closed the day leading the team in sacks with three, as many as the entire White squad together. Those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, however, as the quarterbacks operated under a two-hand touch rule, save for the instances in which Diggs threw a pass on a trick play or Eleanor Roosevelt alumnus Shawn Petty stepped back in under center.
“That’s not going to be something that’s going to be in our arsenal for the season,” Edsall said of Petty playing quarterback.
And, slotted back into his comfortable position at linebacker, Petty appears not to have missed a step in his transition from emergency quarterback to defensive anchor. His 13 tackles more than doubled that of any on the opposing Red team.
“We’re definitely getting depth,” junior linebacker Cole Farrand said. “Everyone that’s on the field wants to play and the second team wants to play. Everyone is fighting for position out here. The intensity was great out here, and it was just a good game.”
Cornerback A.J. Hendy is one of the several that Farrand spoke of in fighting for starting spots. The former Bowie High cornerback is currently in the midst of a struggle for the starting safety position opposite Anthony Nixon with Sean Davis. Davis got the start over Hendy on Saturday for the Red team. Hendy finished with four tackles to Davis’ three, while Davis had one pass breakup to Hendy’s zero.
Former Linganore standout, Joe Riddle, who had a big day at last weekend’s scrimmage hosted by Middletown, saw limited action on Saturday, carrying the ball just three times for 13 yards despite Wes Brown — also a Good Counsel grad — sitting out to rehabilitate ankle and labrum injuries. Riddle’s first carry went for six yards; his final two combined for seven.
“Overall, I am pleased with what we did and got accomplished,” Edsall said. “We have some big things ahead of us for this summer.”