FREDERICK — A cloud of frustration and dejection hung in the hallway outside the Frederick Warriors’ locker room Friday.
Players filed out slowly and silently. Some lingered in doorways to lament or around corners to offer teammates words of apology.
Although the Warriors showed flashes of effectiveness against the Windsor Wizards, turnovers overwhelmed their efforts and paved the way to a 28-7 loss.
For the second time in two weeks, the Warriors had trouble keeping the ball. For the second time in two weeks, it sunk them.
“That’s why we lost, because of the turnovers,” said junior tailback Dennis Hanes, who ran for 87 yards on 18 carries. “The little
things are killing us right now.”
Those little things were three fumbles — one of them lost
— and a whopping five interceptions. Although it appeared to have the bigger and more powerful Windsor on its toes early, Frederick couldn’t sustain enough drives to make it count.
“We’re our own worst enemy right now,” Frederick coach Thad Lear said.
The Wizards began Friday’s game well, jumping out to a 7-0 lead on Hanes’ 15-yard run with 1 minute, 13 seconds left in the first quarter. But it was the last time Frederick would sniff the end zone.
The reason, other than the turnovers, was Windsor’s punishing rushing attack, which found its wheels after the first quarter and built momentum as the game progressed.
Senior fullback Michael Thompson was the primary assailant, barreling for 123 yards at more than 6 yards per attempt, even though it took him a quarter to get going.
The Windsor coaches noticed a pattern in the way Frederick was positioning its linemen, and took advantage of it with quick-hitting gives to Thompson right to the heart of the Warriors’ defense.
“I had nothing but daylight for the first three or four yards almost every time,” Thompson said. “I’m not that fast guy who is going to juke somebody, but once I’m hit, the good Lord willing, I can usually get a couple more yards.”
Once Windsor established Thompson, the paths opened up for speedy senior Justin Miller, who finished with 58 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
“They’re a big, physical team, and they just kept coming,” Lear said. “Their kids run hard.”
Still, Frederick was in it until the fourth quarter, when Windsor senior Pete Hicks returned an interception 20 yards to give the Wizards a 21-7 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Windsor fell on the ball deep in Frederick territory as the Warriors waited for it to roll out of bounds.
The Wizards scored three plays later to break the game open.
It won’t get any easier for the Warriors, who host the undefeated Valley Vikings next weekend, although the Warriors are doing their best to stay positive despite their early stumbles.
“I think everyone here still thinks we can get to the playoffs,” Hanes said. “We just need to keep our heads up and find some confidence.”
But if the mood in Frederick’s locker room is to get any better, the Warriors will have to find a way to keep the ball.