The Westminster High football team had two goals in mind when it entered Ruby Field on Friday night: beat longtime rival South Carroll for the county title, and complete the first undefeated and untied regular season in school history.
With those accomplishments now in hand, the Owls can move on to their main goal of winning the school’s first state football championship.
Westminster effectively mixed its running and passing games and unleashed the county’s best defense in a 42-7 romp over the Cavaliers on Friday night at Ruby Field. Coach Brad Wilson’s team completed the first undefeated regular season in program history, while earning its second consecutive county championship.
The Owls (10-0, 5-0 county), who outgained South Carroll by a 389-145 margin, were never threatened as they built even greater momentum heading into the Class 4A North regional playoffs.
“I want the kids to enjoy this, because going undefeated is big,” said Wilson, now in his ninth year at Westminster. “But they’re not done, and they have had only one goal on their minds since January. They’re a mature group that works on getting better with each practice.
“We talked about three chapters in our book. The first chapter is done, the second starts next week, and hopefully we can keep playing the way we’ve been and get to that final chapter at the state championship.”
Westminster and South Carroll had already clinched playoff spots before the season finale.
But they will be joined in the postseason by Manchester Valley.
The Mavericks’ 26-7 win over North Carroll, combined with Northwestern-Baltimore’s loss to Reginald Lewis, clinched the first-ever playoff spot for the four-year old program. Coach Tony Shermeyer’s Mavericks will travel to either New Town in Owings Mills or Baltimore’s Reginald Lewis next Saturday for a Class 1A North regional semifinal.
On Friday night, Westminster will host a playoff game for the first time since 2005. The Owls will host Blake (6-4), from Silver Spring, in a Class 4A North regional semifinal.
After dropping its first two games, Blake won six of seven before losing to Albert Einstein, 28-20, on Friday in its final regular-season contest. The Blake-Westminster winner will face either second-seeded Sherwood or third seed Catonsville in the regional championship game on November 16.
“After the win over Martinsburg (in week four), we really took off and knew we could do anything,” said senior running back Dan Johnson, who gained a season-high 117 yards on seven carries and also caught a team-leading six passes for 67 yards. “Everyone is already focused on the next step, which is our first playoff game.”
The Owls relied on their prodigious passing game to produce another lopsided victory. Senior quarterback Deryk Kern continued to excel, completing 19 passes in 29 attempts for 259 yards and three touchdowns.
Kern already holds the county single-season passing touchdowns record with 52, and seems certain to break the state mark of 56 set by Arundel’s Billy Cosh in 2008. With 3,083 yards, he is also within reach of the county single-season mark of 3,335 passing yards set in 2005 by Westminster’s Kevin Clancy.
“I started off nervous tonight,” Kern said. “I’m usually calm, but after that first drive where I went 0-for-three, my teammates really picked me up.”
Westminster jumped on top for good when Kern found junior wideout Ryan Hursey for a three-yard touchdown at the 7:06 mark of the opening quarter.
Kern and Hursey connected again from four yards out in the first minute of the second quarter, and Johnson’s first touchdown run of the season at the 8:20 mark put Westminster up by three scores.
With just 1:17 remaining, Kern hit senior receiver Bradley Metcalf on a crossing pattern for a 13-yard score to give the Owls a 28-0 halftime lead.
On Westminster’s opening drive of the second half, Johnson produced an outstanding 45-yard broken-field run to the Cavalier five. One play later, Kern scrambled through the South Carroll defense for the Owls’ fifth touchdown.
Johnson’s six-yard burst up the middle with 7:43 remaining closed the Westminster scoring. The Cavaliers finally got on the board with less than a minute left on quarterback Ben Nardo’s six-yard keeper.
South Carroll, the first team in county history to reach the playoffs for four consecutive years, will move on to the Class 2A West regional semifinals.
The Cavaliers (6-4, 5-2 county) will have their hands full next Friday when they travel to undefeated Middletown for the second time this season. The defending Class 2A state champions defeated South Carroll, 37-14, on September 14.
While South Carroll will be a considerable underdog at Middletown, the Cavaliers are used to overcoming the odds. Coach Steve Luette’s team started 1-3 each of the last two years, then rallied to win five straight games before absorbing a loss to Westminster in the regular-season finale.
After suffering heavy graduation losses from the 2011 team, the Cavaliers were expected to struggle. A season-opening 35-34 win over traditional powerhouse Linganore was followed by consecutive losses to Patuxent, Middletown, and Winters Mill.
But South Carroll quickly righted the ship. Led by the running of senior Dylan McDermott and the emergence of Nardo at quarterback, South Carroll won five consecutive county games to wrap up another postseason berth.
McDermott, who was held to 38 yards on 12 carries by Westminster’s suffocating defense, concluded the regular season with 1,036 rushing yards.
He was one of a record five county players to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season. Century senior Tyrice Rock led all county rushers with over 1,600 yards. North Carroll’s Dan Gebhart and a pair of quarterbacks, Manchester Valley’s Dom Frank and Wes Cook of Winters Mill, joined Rock and McDermott in the 1,000-yard club.
Westminster 42, South Carroll 7
1 2 3 4 F
South Carroll 0 0 0 7 7
Westminster 7 21 7 7 42
Westminster – Ryan Hursey 3 pass from Deryk Kern (Justin Cohen kick)
Westminster – Ryan Hursey 4 pass from Deryk Kern (Justin Cohen kick)
Westminster – Dan Johnson 1 run (Justin Cohen kick)
Westminster – Bradley Metcalf 13 pass from Deryk Kern (Justin Cohen kick)
Westminster – Deryk Kern 5 run (Justin Cohen kick)
Westminster – Dan Johnson 6 run (Justin Cohen kick)
South Carroll – Ben Nardo 6 run (David Baca kick)
South Carroll – Ben Nardo 18-58, Dylan McDermott 12-38, Chad Slifer 3-19, Zach Wolfrey 5-18, Dan White 2-2, Andrew Louder 1-(-2)
Westminster - Dan Johnson 7-117, Deryk Kern 3-13
South Carroll – Ben Nardo 1-10-3, 12 yards
Westminster – Deryk Kern 19-29-0, 259 yards
South Carroll – Chad Slifer 1-12
Westminster – Dan Johnson 6-67, Bradley Metcalf 5-49, Darius Clifton 3-81, Ryan Hursey 3-21, Garrett Bean 2-41
Regional Playoff Schedule
Friday, November 9:
Class 4A North: Blake at Westminster (7 p.m.)
Class 2A West: South Carroll at Middletown (7 p.m.)
Saturday, November 10:
Class 1A North: Manchester Valley at New Town or Reginald Lewis (time TBA)