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It's rare that a 21-point loss serves as a beacon of hope for a team, but that's exactly what happened for the East Clarendon High School football team when it lost to Carvers Bay 28-7 last season.
Carvers Bay entered that contest undefeated, having outscored its five previous opponents by a combined score of 290-46. It hadn't scored less than 42 points in a single game.
Meanwhile, East Clarendon was 0-6 and had been outscored by a combined 170-95.
The Wolverines played the 2A powerhouse well, though. The confidence gained in that game propelled East Clarendon to back-to-back victories over Johnsonville and Andrews as it narrowly missed out on a trip to the playoffs in their first season at the 2A level.
"After Carvers Bay, we got beat, but we were like, 'Hey, we can play with these guys,'" East Clarendon starting quarterback Cub Cook said.
A series of personnel changes ahead of the Johnsonville game coupled with the newfound confidence turned out to be the winning formula. Quarterback Lane Robinson was moved to wide receiver with rising junior Cook inserted as the starting quarterback and fellow rising junior Marques Webb as the starting running back.
Webb was a revelation, rushing for 232 yards and two touchdowns in East Clarendon's 34-32 victory over Andrews to end the season. He looks even stronger for 2019.
"Marques had a great offseason," coach Cook said, the uncle of his starting quarterback. "He worked real hard and got a lot stronger. He's taken on a leadership role with the running backs. Marques is one of those running backs, he's got that 'it' factor. We're excited about his leadership."
Between Webb and a very experienced offensive line, Coach Cook likes his team's chances coming into 2019.
"We've got an offensive line coming back that across the board averages 25-30 starts for all four of them," Cook said. "They've been with us as freshmen. They took some beatings, they've been in the weight room, they've gotten stronger, and learned the system. They never quit. They kept fighting each day and hopefully this will be their year to shine."
Now that the team has experienced some success on the field at the 2A level, the focus is on getting it to believe it can take the next step to the playoffs.
"I just believe that me and my team can do what we put our mind to," Cub Cook said. "We've got faith in ourselves now, and we know we can win."
"It would mean a great deal to us to make the playoffs," coach Cook said. "If you believe you can do something, then you can do anything. Believing in yourself, believing in your teammates, believing in your school, believing in your program, is the majority of the fight."
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