Taejon Anderson was running toward the sideline and looked to have a pretty clear path forward until he was wrapped in a giant bear hug.
On one of the few occasions he had been stopped all night, his coach, Kevin Pirri, offered words of praise and encouragement after Anderson etched his name in the Frederick High School football record book and helped deliver one of the Cadets’ biggest victories in well over a decade.
Anderson was still in diapers the last time Frederick beat Walkersville on a football field in 2007. On Friday night, he was gouging the Lions’ defense for 207 yards and five touchdowns in a 49-28 victory for the Cadets that raised their record to 5-1, sent their confidence soaring and generated some belief that anything was possible the rest of the season.
“Running this part of the schedule, it’s the most confident I have ever been,” said Pirri, who is enjoying just about every minute of coaching this team, easily his best in his seven years on the job.
Anderson is a sophomore and started the season as the second-string running back behind Chris Metevia, who rushed for 221 yards and two touchdowns in Frederick’s season-opening win over Aberdeen.
But the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Metevia, who did not play during the spring season for personal reasons, is attracting Division I college attention as a safety in the Cadets’ defensive backfield.
So, ever since the second week of the season, Anderson has been elevated as the team’s primary running back. For one, it saves some wear and tear on Metevia, who gives Frederick two top-notch defensive backs, alongside teammate Travon Neal. And Anderson has proven he is more than capable of being the team’s featured back.
As a freshman in the spring, he rushed for more than 100 yards against county heavyweight Linganore. His five rushing touchdowns Friday earned him a share of the single-game school record held by Richard Snowden (1990) and Bruce Dorsey, who accomplished the feat twice in 2004.
“I feel great,” Anderson said after his exploits Friday. “I want to give big props to my whole offensive line. They opened everything up. Everything was wide open the whole game. I want to give big props to them.”
Walkersville dropped to 4-2 with the loss. Lions coach Joe Polce said the Cadets “beat us up” along the offensive and defensive lines.
“That was the difference in the game,” he said.
The Lions were able to hang around for most of the game behind a terrific performance by senior running back JaeSean Fulton, who rushed for 133 yards and three touchdowns.
But Walkersville just did not have the answers when it came to stopping Frederick’s high-powered offense, which has now surpassed 40 points in four of the five games it has played on the field.
That the Cadets were able to do it without Metevia carrying the ball once and a receiving a minimal offensive contribution, by his lofty standards, from Neal (five catches for 40 yards) was a loud statement in itself.
“Yeah, we are for real. We have been for real,” Anderson said. “You know, we just had to put together the pieces. Now we have put together the pieces, nobody can stop us.”
The pivotal sequence in the game occurred in the final minute of the first half.
Walkersville blocked a punt and then scored on a 1-yard run by Fulton to pull even at 14 and seize the momentum as halftime neared.
But Frederick seized it right back on the ensuing kickoff when junior Nahshon McKinney-Spear returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown, putting the Cadets ahead for good at 28-14.
“That put the wind back in our sails,” Pirri said.
Next week, the Cadets face another big test when they travel to face unbeaten Linganore.
“The humility these kids have is amazing,” Pirri said. “They’ll come in tomorrow morning, ready to ask questions and ready to work to get better and continue to grow.”