Not a bad start to the Frederick County football season. County teams went 8-4 in the opening week, and there was one matchup (Oakdale-Catoctin) that was going to guarantee a winner and a loser.
The biggest surprise was not so much who won but who lost. Three-time defending Class 2A state champion Middletown fell at home to Westminster and supposed 3A contender Urbana made the 125-mile trip to Dover, Delaware and came out on the wrong side of the score.
The Knights 21-19 loss to Westminster, a game they led 13-0 midway through the third quarter, ended their remarkable 36-game winning streak and ended any chance they had of matching Urbana’s state-record run of 50 straight wins from 1998-2001. Middletown lost 25 seniors to graduation, including the state’s Defensive Player of the Year (Ricky Leonard), from last year’s team. Then, it lost its starting quarterback, Will Davis, after one play due to a hamstring injury. It’s way too early to proclaim the Knights’ reign is over. The schedule lightens up over the next few weeks (Winters Mill at home and then at 0-1 Boonsboro), which should allow the players to gain some experience and find a groove.
They certainly need to become more efficient offensively. On too many occasions, the play clock was running down to just a few seconds remaining, forcing the Knights to call a timeout or accept a delay-of-game penalty. They also need to shore up their defensive secondary, a problem area in recent seasons. Westminster won the game with two big pass plays that went for touchdowns. But running back Nick Welch had a big game (129 yards, two touchdowns on 14 carries), and there is plenty of evidence to suggest Middletown will be a formidable team before too long.
Urbana, meanwhile, couldn’t slow Dover in a 35-28 road loss. It marked just the second loss in a season opener for the Hawks since their magical 50-game run ended in 2002. They also lost the 2011 opener to Westlake following their unbeaten state-title season in 2010. It also got new coach Dave Mencarini’s tenure off to an 0-1 start. Urbana will host North Hagerstown on Friday.
Perhaps the biggest statement of the week was made by Oakdale, which went to Thurmont on Saturday afternoon and crushed Catoctin, 54-2. The Bears scored touchdowns on their first seven possessions. They are big, deep, talented and very much look like a playoff contender in Middletown’s region (the 2A West). Catoctin, meanwhile, will hope for better this week at Tuscarora.
The Titans rolled past Winters Mill on the road, 49-24, to improve to 1-0 for the second straight year. Last year, they won their first four games. Senior quarterback Spencer Mott threw for three touchdowns and senior running back Simon Duvall ran for a pair of scores in the win over Winters Mill.
Perhaps Linganore, for the moment anyway, ascends to the top of the county team rankings. The Lancers were expected to be 3A state title contenders and certainly looked the part in a 35-6 win at South Carroll. New starting quarterback Nathaniel Musselman threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, and the defense looked as good as advertised.
Then, there was the group of teams that got off to a hopeful start. Brunswick, Frederick, Thomas Johnson and Walkersville all went through difficult, wish-it-were-better seasons last year. Now, they are all 1-0 to start this season. Brunswick rolled to a 28-14 home win over Francis Scott Key behind 172 rushing yards and two touchdowns from senior Seth Wagner. Frederick, shaking off the effects of a 1-9 season, rode a 103-yard, three-touchdown performance by Stalanic Anu to a 19-7 road win over Watkins Mill. TJ, with a revamped roster, beats Catonsville on the road, 25-18. Senior Tyler Magaha, making his first career start at quarterback, completed 22 of 40 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns. And, lastly, Walkersville sophomore Chad Gleason had a big game, rushing for 155 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Lions to a 24-7 home win over Boonsboro.
Meanwhile, the county’s private-school teams had a mixed night. St. John’s Catholic Prep fell once again to the only team that beat it last season, Riverdale Baptist. The score of this road loss was 35-0. Maryland School for the Deaf, on the other hand, rolled to a 48-6 home win over the Frederick Christian Eagles.
We’ll see how Week 2 continues to shape or reshape the narratives for all of these teams.