For a five minute stretch of the third quarter last Friday, the Linganore offense shifted into its top gear, scoring three touchdowns in that span on the way to a 29-7 victory at Middletown.
The Lancers were expected to play with that high-octane efficiency on offense all season. But, outside of that five minute stretch, they really haven’t played their best. Still, that five-minute spurt showed everyone what they are capable of, and, if they start playing that way more consistently, they will indeed be a factor once the Class 3A West playoffs begin.
Linganore (3-0) will need to play its best, or close to it, to beat South Hagerstown (2-1) on the road this week. The Rebels have followed a 12-10 season-opening loss to MerVo in Baltimore with a 37-7 home win over Urbana and a 21-20 road win over previously unbeaten South Carroll, the 2A West champion from last season. They have not fared well against Linganore recently, losing by blowout scores the last two seasons in the first-round of the 3A West playoffs. But both of those games were on the road. South is a much more formidable team on its home field. This will be the truest test of the season for both teams so far.
Oakdale (3-0), meanwhile, is in prime position to earn its first win over Urbana this Friday. The Bears made a 150-mile trip to Lewes, Delaware last week and came away with an impressive 48-12 victory over Cape Henlopen to improve to 3-0. Urbana, meanwhile, was stunned at home by 0-2 Westminster, 27-24. The Hawks coughed up a 17-0 lead in the second half, thanks in part to a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, a fumble returned for a touchdown and two Wesminster field goals in the final minute. The collapse follows a blowout loss at South Hagerstown a week earlier, and, suddenly, young and inexperienced Urbana (1-2) is reeling with a formidable schedule ahead.
Walkersville (3-0), on the other hand, continues to impress. The Lions routed Francis Scott Key, 56-12, on the road last week behind 182 rushing yards and three touchdowns from sophomore Jacob Wetzel. The Lions will be heavily favored to beat Blake at home this week before the schedule regains its teeth, starting with a road game at Linganore the following week.
There are some other interesting matchups in Week 3:
Thomas Johnson (2-1), riding back-to-back wins, travels to Tuscarora (2-1) in a battle of teams trying to become viable contenders in the 3A West playoff chase.
Middletown (1-2) travels to 3-0 Boonsboro, trying to snap a two-game losing streak. The Knights fell at Boonsboro last season, marking their first loss to the Warriors since 1994 and just the second overall.
Catoctin (2-1) vies for its third straight win at home against Smithsburg, a team they have dominated in recent seasons, winning six in a row.
And someone is guaranteed to pick up its first when of the season when 0-3 Brunswick travels to face 0-3 Frederick.
Hard to believe, but we’re already approaching the midpoint of the season. The playoff picture is sure to become clearer in the coming weeks.