By Chris Teale (Photo/Chris Teale)
It took just six plays for the Episcopal football team’s fast-paced offense to have an impact last Friday night.
Away against Paul VI in the Maroon’s season opener, the visitors quickly moved up field through three passing plays and two rushes after starting on their own 20. Then, quarterback Seth Agwunobi took the snap and rushed into the end zone from 4 yards out, putting his side up 7-0 less than two minutes after the opening whistle.
Episcopal would ride the momentum from that opening drive to a comfortable 45-0 win over the Panthers and move to 1-0 on the young season.
“That’s something that we’ve been doing for the last five years,” said Maroon head coach Panos Voulgaris. “We like to play fast and try to get out from the line of scrimmage and be up-tempo.”
Episcopal scored the majority of its points in the first half, sucking the energy out of a vociferous home crowd. Later in the first quarter, Agwunobi ran in an 11-yard touchdown, followed by a 22-yard scoring run. With 52 seconds left before the end of the first quarter, Agwunobi’s third score extended the Maroon’s lead to 21-0 and put the team in complete control.
Agwunobi rushed for 69 yards in the game on four carries, and went 8-9 for 143 yards through the air. In the second quarter, he also threw a 24-yard touchdown pass that put the Maroon ahead 28-0.
“It was really a slow progression,” Agwunobi said. “Tonight I was looking for passes first — they broke down and I was able to scramble. Then there were people blocking downfield, so I was wide open.”
Running back Perris Jones, who celebrated his first varsity game for Episcopal after transferring from Bishop Ireton, ran 23 yards for a touchdown with 46 seconds left before halftime. Jones finished with 79 rushing yards on eight carries. In the second half, sophomore Jaden Bailey rushed into the end zone from 19 yards out, and Duncan Trau completed the scoring with a field goal.
“It feels amazing, but it’s all the offensive line,” Agwunobi said. “I’ve got to thank them. They make my job a hell of a lot easier. They were blocking downfield and blocking the whole time. They don’t stop.”
Defensively, the Maroon kept continual pressure on Paul VI quarterback Jimmy Cheek, who was repeatedly forced to scramble out of the pocket from blitzing defenders. Cheek was sacked five times, which the Episcopal players said was a key part of the game plan.
“Our scouting report going into the game was to get to the quarterback, because that quarterback has a rally quick release and he can pinpoint the ball anywhere on the field,” said Maroon defensive end Colin Dixon. “We knew if we were going to stop this team, it starts with getting pressure on the quarterback.”
Despite the victory, Voulgaris said there are plenty of areas for his team to improve, especially in keeping their discipline. On multiple occasions, Episcopal was flagged for infractions including delays of game and false starts, and the team’s head coach said more time on the practice field will be key to minimize such mistakes.
“Paying attention to detail has to be our mantra moving forward,” he said. “We were not as disciplined as I’d hope
we can be tonight.”
Episcopal returns to action Friday at home against local rival Bishop Ireton, and while there is plenty of room for improvement, the Maroon players are encouraged by what they have done so far.
“It is the first game, so I do feel like we have a ways to go before we’re where we want to be,” said Dixon. “But if we keep going at this pace and we keep working hard in practice, I think that goal is very achievable.”