Commentary

Finding the positives in lopsided defeats

Updated: September 18, 2009, 2:15 PM ET
By Sheldon Shealer | ESPNRISE.com

A 39-point first quarter left no doubt about the outcome.

Andre Christian
Mike LovedayAndre Christian scored Southside's only touchdown of the season.
For the second straight week, the Southside Academy (Baltimore, Md.) football team was simply outmanned, this time down 70 points to Calvert Hall (Towson, Md.) and facing the running clock late in the fourth quarter.

Then, senior Andre Christian broke through the Calvert Hall defense on his way to a 22-yard rushing touchdown that prompted a celebration on the Southside bench and brought a smile to coach Adrian Mobley's face.

At Southside, success is not measured on the scoreboard, at least, not yet.

Southside Academy, a Baltimore City public school that dressed 23 players last week  11 of them freshmen  and does not have a junior varsity program, opened the season against a pair of established Baltimore County private schools: state-ranked Loyola in the opener and Calvert Hall last Saturday.

Loyola jumped on Southside for 36 first-quarter points before cruising to a 55-0 victory. Calvert Hall was up 39-0 in the first quarter and settled on a 70-6 win.

For Southside, that's two games, 125 points allowed. Yet, Mobley focuses on the six points scored.

"It was like a 65-yard drive, mostly running plays," Mobley said. "The guys were fired up in the huddle like they really wanted to accomplish something."

Mobley views that lone score as the stepping stone for something greater  maybe not this week or this season, but eventually for this program that has seven wins over the past three seasons.

"Later on, down the line, somewhere down the road, this will be a learning experience for them," Mobley added. "Even as demoralizing as the scores where, somewhere down the line we might be able to pull something positive out of this."

Southside, which went 2-8 last season, scheduled Loyola in the opener. The Dons entered the 2009 season with a 14-game win streak and finished the 2008 season as the No. 2 team in Maryland. Scheduling tough openers is nothing new for Mobley, who, in his fifth year as head coach, had previously opened seasons with perennial playoff contenders Fort Hill (Cumberland, Md.) and Forestville (Md.) and twice against deaf school national power Maryland School for the Deaf (Frederick, Md.). In all four cases, Southside lost its opener.

The change this year was the demands of the Week 2 contest.

Calvert Hall ended up on Southside's schedule only after Mobley granted a favor to Edmondson (Baltimore, Md.) coach Dante Jones. Southside was supposed to play Edmondson, but when Edmondson got a chance to face Loyola in Week 2, he wanted to drop Southside. Mobley agreed, and with Jones' help, Southside landed Calvert Hall as the replacement contest.

"We always play in deep water in our first week," Mobley said. "Going two weeks in a row like that & this is a little deeper water than we're used to."

Mobley has visions of turning around the Southside program, and he has reason for optimism. Southside is only two seasons removed from a 7-4 showing and a playoff berth. Dwindling numbers brought the team down in 2008, and 2009 clearly has not started well.

"At Southside, we want to become an elite program," Mobley said. "We want to build toward that."

As part of that goal, Mobley schedules teams that are beyond Southside's ability to start the season.

"I want these guys to know what it's like playing the best and to see where they stand individually and as a team," he said.

Mobley said he hoped the team would compete better against Loyola and Calvert Hall.

"The guys knew what was going on going into these contests," he said. "I think they are more disappointed in their performance than they were of being scared or fearful of Loyola and Calvert Hall. We wanted to go out and do our best, and we didn't get that.

"To tell you the God's honest truth, both coaches could have turned the heat up even more and it could have been worse than what it was on some aspects," Mobley said. "But what I told my kids was the way we played, [league rival] Carver [Vo-Tech, which went 0-10 last year] could have beaten us by the same score."

Mobley was quick to scrap the game plan against Calvert Hall and focus on the future.

"Once we got down that big, we treated it like a practice," he said. "We got everybody in we could and we tried to look at what the young men could do and what kind of fight they would have and what type of attitudes would be developed out of this. We tried to make it as positive as we could."

At halftime against Calvert Hall, the coaching staff drew up a new running plan and put it in action late in the game, which led to the lone score.

"I told them at halftime the true measure of a team is how they react to adversity," he said. "We put together a little running game to see if they could execute it, and they executed it pretty well."

Christian, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound running back who is receiving college interest, took the leadership role and led the drive for the team's only score.

"I did learn this team doesn't quit," Mobley said of the late score in a lost cause. "They're tough minded and they want to get better, they definitely want to get better."