Archbishop Spalding’s football team went undefeated during their grueling 10-game schedule. They were on a streak of beating ranked opponents by 30 points in some games and they were ranked the third best team in the state. They were rewarded by hosting a first-round playoff game against a team they had already beaten.
Sounds like a recipe for advancing in the playoffs, right?
Wrong! The Cavaliers met their match with a tough and talent-laden McDonogh Eagles team that shut out Spalding 7-0 and crushed the Cavaliers’ hopes of taking the postseason championship.
“They’re a really good team with three Division I defensive linemen,” said head coach Kyle Schmitt. “They matched up with us better than any other team this year and I lost a lot of sleep that week worrying about our offensive line against their defensive line.”
McDonogh’s game plan was to stop Spalding’s elusive quarterback, Nick Gutierrez, who ran for almost 900 yards and threw for over 1,000 yards during the season.
“McDonogh’s strategy was to contain our running game and pack the box so we didn’t have running lanes throughout the game,” said Gutierrez, who has committed to play lacrosse at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).
“After the game, I was upset, and for our seniors, it was not how we thought we would end our season,” said Gutierrez.
But for those 19 seniors, the positive memories of their senior year were how the Cavaliers went 10-0 against the best competition in the mid-Atlantic region and outscored their opponents 365-76 in those games.
“I think the highlights of the season were beating St. Augustine of New Jersey the first week of the season, 34-13, and winning a hard-fought game versus Broadneck at their field, 44-13, and winning a thrilling overtime battle with Gonzaga 20-13,” Schmitt recounted.
St. Augustine finished as the No. 2 team in New Jersey, and Spalding also beat Malvern Prep out of Pennsylvania.
This year’s Cavaliers team used their size and speed as a winning combination and had eight players make the first-team MIAA all-conference team.
Schmitt will always remember this team for their unity and work ethic, which they displayed every practice and game.
“After the McDonogh game, I thanked my seniors and many of them were four-year starters for us,” said Schmitt. “I also told them to hug their teammates and their parents for making this year so memorable.”
Ironically, the bonding of this team really fortified itself during last year’s pandemic. Schmitt had to be creative in keeping the team motivated and used Zoom meetings to keep the team together, and they discovered new facets of their teammates.
“We talked about numerous events during the pandemic but also made time for some fun and laughter,” Schmitt said. “It really helped the players to get to know each other on other levels besides football.”
Gutierrez echoed Schmitt’s assessment by stating, “The Zoom meetings really made us think of team goals, and everyone was on the same page going into the season. Many teams have the offensive players and defensive players bond with their side of the ball, but we had a family feeling and everyone genuinely cared for each other.”
The other part of Spalding’s success was its year-long conditioning program, and Schmitt mentioned that he conducts a tough camp. His teams have always won their season’s first game, and he is confident his team is in better condition than its opponents.
The conditioning, team chemistry, and having the size and speed were the foundation of their success this season and had numerous college scouts coming to the Severn School campus.
“We’ll have between 12 to 15 players continue their playing careers next fall,” Schmitt said. “We have two players, Kellan Wyatt and Lavain Scruggs, who have accepted scholarships from Maryland.”
Next year, Spalding will be younger but still highlight talented players as one of the Cavaliers freshmen defensive backs has received a scholarship offer from Boston College already.
“Our JV went 8-3 and our freshmen team went 6-3, so we have players coming up and we’ll develop them over the coming months,” Schmitt said.
In the next few weeks, Schmitt will start preparing for next season with “shadow days” for incoming players who are in eighth grade now as well as host numerous college coaches who want to speak to his current players.
In addition to thanking his seniors for their dedication and work habits, Schmitt said that the school’s administration deserves credit for their support. He named president Cathy Mahar; principal Brian Kohler; current athletic director Jon Mellinger; and past athletic director and current vice president Jeff Parsons as the program’s unsung heroes.
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