Rivalry Week is upon us here in Frederick County.
Linganore faces Urbana, Walkersville squares off with Middletown, Thomas Johnson meets Frederick, Catoctin plays Brunswick and, in a game between teams without a true, natural rival, Oakdale matches up with Tuscarora. These games, at the very least, should add some intrigue to the final week of the regular season, especially since most of the local teams won’t be in the playoffs.
Walkersville (7-2), for example, needs to beat Middletown (4-5) to ensure its first playoff spot since 2012. It sounds simple enough. The Lions have clearly looked like the better team all season. Except the game is on the road, and the Lions have not beaten Middletown since 2004. Can they finally get over the mental hurdle?
Linganore (9-0), meanwhile, is bidding to be the top seed in the Class 3A West playoff chase. The Lancers must beat Urbana (5-4) in the annual I-70 game and hope for some help from Damascus, the defending regional champion that currently holds the top spot. Linganore will likely be without starting running back Dante Butler, who injured his shoulder last week in a 52-6 road win over Thomas Johnson.
Urbana, on the other hand, has turned its season around. The Hawks are coming off a 22-6 road win over Catoctin last week, which was their third straight win and fourth in the last five games. The defense has been a strong point all season, and the offense has improved considerably since the switch to the read-option with junior Elijah Atkins and sophomore Gage Dickens. Urbana is hoping to make this a winning season with a win over Linganore and avoid just the second .500 season in school history. The Hawks have never had a losing season. They will be heavy underdogs against the Lancers, but their improved play of late certainly makes this game more interesting.
Oakdale (8-1) has already wrapped up a playoff spot in the highly competitive 3A West. The question facing the Bears is where they will fall in the region, either third or fourth? They are currently fourth behind unbeaten Damascus and Linganore and once-beaten Seneca Valley. The Tuscarora game will pit the county’s best defense (Oakdale) against one of the best and most versatile offenses (Tuscarora). The Titans (5-3) were in the 3A West playoff mix until back-to-back losses to South Hagerstown and Urbana sank their chances in the middle of the season.
The rest of the teams, TJ (3-6), Frederick (1-8), Catoctin (4-5) and Brunswick (0-9), are all just looking to close out their seasons on positives notes. Brunswick is trying to avoid the first winless season in school history.
In private-school play, Maryland School for the Deaf (9-1) closes its 11-game season with a contest at Florida School for the Deaf. St. John’s Catholic Prep (8-0-1), meanwhile, closes its regular season with a home game against Friends School at McCurdy Field. The Vikings will then face Annapolis Christian on Nov. 14 at Archbishop Spalding in Baltimore for the MIAA C Conference championship.
Vikings senior quarterback Bryce Johnson, a four-year starter at the position, has been on an absolute tear, accounting for 11 touchdowns over the last two weeks. He scored six times in the Vikings’ 48-0 home win over Mount Carmel last week. Johnson is closing out his high school football career in style being going on to play lacrosse in the spring and then in college.