Like previous seasons, I hope to make far more timely posts going forward. But, nonetheless, I wanted to weigh in with a few thoughts about Week 1 of the high school football season, as well as look ahead to Week 2, which arrives a day early due to Yom Kippur.
Oakdale and Catoctin may have played the Game of the Year in the county. It will certainly take a good candidate to beat it. There were big plays, turnovers, drama and missed opportunities, everything you would expect or hope for out of a first game of the season. When Catoctin scored, Oakdale answered. And after the Bears took their first lead of the game early in the fourth quarter, Catoctin responded with a stunning 11-play, 56-yard scoring drive, capped by the third scoring connection of the game between quarterback Peyton Laramore and receiver Corey Jochim, to pull even.
Despite all of the big plays, the game was decided, as much as anything, by kicking. Catoctin missed three extra points in the game. Oakdale missed two. Yet, with the game on the line, the Bears’ Nick Locicero drilled the game-winning 22-yard attempt to propel his team to a 36-33 victory and provide a moment he’ll never forget.
It was a huge win for Oakdale, which needed to prove it could win a close game. The Bears’ previous two wins came in blowouts. It was also a good game for the Cougars, who appear to be much improved from last season when they uncharacteristically went 3-7. It was definitely a game from which both teams can build. Since they both play in the same region (the Class 2A West), it could also go along way in determining a playoff spot.
Elsewhere, Tuscarora, on the strength of a 137-yard, three-touchdown performance by junior running back Micah Anderson, got its season off to a nice start with a 37-18 victory over Winters Mill. The Titans are also looking to put a difficult (1-9) season behind them. They, too, appear to be much improved. But the first test will arrive this week when they play at Catoctin.
The performance of the week was turned in by Urbana junior running back Raekwon Gray, who rushed for 261 yards on 35 carries and accounted for all three of the Hawks’ touchdowns in a 20-16 victory over Dover, Del. Gray already figured to be the leading rusher in Frederick County this season and his first effort certainly did nothing to hurt that campaign.
Another top player in the county, Linganore receiver Josh Gontarek, caught for passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns, as the Lancers’ avenged last year’s season-opening loss to South Carroll in a big way with a 49-24 home win.
Two-time defending state champion Middletown began its quest for a three-peat with a 19-14 road win against a formidable opponent, Westminster, and Thomas Johnson began Jerry Smith’s head-coaching tenure with a 34-7 home win over Catonsville, a playoff team from a season ago.
All of the Week 2 public school games are on Thursday due to the Jewish holiday. The best local matchup is Tuscarora at Catoctin. But other big games include Urbana at North Hagerstown in a game that will have early playoff implications in the 3A West, a vastly improved Linganore team at Westminster, another team that beat the Lancers last season, and TJ hosting a very talented South Hagerstown team.
Again, look for a much more timely update wrapping up Week 2 this weekend. Looking forward to seeing how another Frederick County football season unfolds.