Week 2 HS Football Thoughts and Observations

by Greg Swatek. 0 Comments

Take a moment to rub your eyes if you must. But the crazy numbers really are true.

Linganore senior quarterback Clark Stieren threw for 428 yards and four touchdowns on just 10 completions in a road win over Westminster. Urbana junior running back Ray Gray ran for 306 yards on 35 carries in the Hawks’ victory at North Hagerstown. Thomas Johnson ran 97 offensive plays in a 48-14 rout of visiting South Hagerstown. Two-time defending state champion (2A) Middletown, meanwhile, scored 62 points and gave up zero in a road win at Winters Mill.

And here are a couple of numbers that are just as impressive as all of those: 7-1. The was the record for county teams against out-of-county opponents in Week 2. All but two of those seven wins were blowouts. It’s still very early, but all signs are pointing to another great year for Frederick County football.

How about the local 3A West scene? Linganore, Urbana, TJ and Tuscarora are all 2-0 in resounding fashion. The Lancers have now routed two teams (South Carroll and Westminster) that beat them last season when they were much more inexperienced. One of the more peculiar stats to come out of their 41-20 victory over Westminster was the Linganore defense knocking the Owls backward to the tune of -1oo rushing yards (quarterback sacks count against the rushing yards in high school). The Lancers have become the big-play team. They had four scoring plays that covered 50 yards or more in the victory over South Carroll. Then, Stieren tossed touchdown passes of 81, 70 and 60 yards to top receiver Josh Gontarek and another 77-yard scoring pass to Adam Beisser in the Westminster game. Can they keep hitting home runs against some of the better defenses they will see later in the season?

Urbana’s Gray, on the other hand, has also proven to be a yardage machine when he’s on the field. He ran for nearly 500 last year despite only playing half the season. Already this season, he has rushed for 261 yards in the season-opening win over Dover (Del.) last week and then 306 in the win over North Hagerstown. He is taking a lot of pressure off junior quarterback Donovan Pannell, who has been excellent in his own right, throwing for two touchdowns and running for another two in the 40-23 victory over the Hubs. Like Urbana, North Hagerstown was a playoff team in the 3A West last season. So, this win was big for the Hawks because it gives them the edge in a potential tiebreaker.

The big takeaway from TJ’s rout of South Hagerstown wasn’t so much the staggering number offensive plays run by the Patriots. There are a lot of talented players on the team. There always are. But, under new coach Jerry Smith, the Patriots aren’t shooting themselves in the foot like previous years. In two games against respectable, playoff-caliber opponents (Catonsville and South Hagerstown), the Patriots have three combined turnovers. In the first half against the Rebels, they committed only one penalty. These were the types of things that cost TJ dearly in the past. If the team can keep the self-inflicted wounds like penalties and turnovers under control, it could be as formidable as any team in 3A.

Tuscarora won the only matchup of county teams with a 27-12 victory at Catoctin. In a tough place for visiting teams to win, the Titans scored the final 27 points of the game, overcoming a five-point halftime deficit along the way. Junior running backs Micah Anderson (127 yards, two touchdowns on 17 carries) and Shane Markwood (117 yards, one touchdown on 21 carries) provided a nice one-two punch on the ground and the Titans’ defense answered the bell after spotting Catoctin (0-2) an early lead. The seniors on this Tuscarora team know how to win. Two years ago, the led the junior varsity squad to an undefeated record. The coaches and players keep clamoring for respect. As the wins keep piling up, the respect will follow.

The 3A West race should be fascinating to watch for the rest of the season. All of these teams look to be legitimate playoff contenders. Can’t discount Frederick at 1-1 either. And the beauty is they are all going to be playing each other over the next several weeks. Should be fun.

Let’s not forget about the big dog on the block, however. Middletown has won 24 straight games. Through two games so far, the Knights have done nothing to dissuade people from thinking they will make a serious push for a third consecutive state title. They should be well-prepared for such a run because they, too, have to run the gauntlet of 3A West team in Frederick County. Middletown plays its first home game of the season on Friday against Boonsboro, a playoff team in Class 1A from a season ago.

Good bounce back wins for Walkersville, Brunswick and Frederick. All those teams are 1-1. The Lions rolled to a 55-7 home win over Liberty. The Railroaders, on the strength of their running game, pulled out a 13-7 victory over visiting Clear Spring and the Cadets turned back Century, 16-13, on the road.

Oakdale (1-1) could not build off the momentum of their last-second home win over Catoctin in the season opener. The Bears fell to South Carroll, 28-14, on the road.



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