Andy Schneider spent most of his football career at Westminster playing on both sides of the ball. In addition to lining up at linebacker for the Owls, he was an offensive lineman his first two years before moving to tight end — mostly in a blocking capacity — as a junior.
But he wanted the ball. If he couldn’t get his number called on offense, then he was going to swarm to it on defense and get himself involved on as many plays as possible.
“I enjoyed running around and hitting people more than pass blocking and playing offense, because I wasn’t really getting the ball,” he said. “[On defense] you can just fly around, react to the ball and just do pretty much whatever you want, just go get the ball and I just love doing that.”
And he did — a lot. In his senior year, Schneider led Carroll County with 116 tackles while recording 28 tackles for loss and three sacks. For his performance, Schneider is the 2022 Carroll County Times football Defensive Player of the Year.
Westminster finished the season 10-2, earned a share of the Carroll County championship with Liberty and South Carroll and won a pair of playoff games before losing to Oakdale in the Class 3A state quarterfinals.
“It was definitely a fun year,” Schneider said. “Looking back, it was obviously upsetting that we lost the way we did to Oakdale, but after some time you can look back and appreciate all that we accomplished.”
Schneider and the Owls relished the chance to play a lot of exciting games against top competition. In addition to dramatic county games against Liberty and South Carroll, Westminster hosted eventual Class 4A state semifinalist Dundalk and won, 17-12, by stopping the Owls at the goal line on the final play of the game.
“That definitely gets my motor running,” Schneider said. “A lot of times, we’re playing against really good competition and whenever you play teams like that, you don’t want to play teams that are 1-6 every week, you want to play teams that are good and going to give you good competition. When we played teams like that, we had to step our own game up and almost every time this year we did, and it made for some really exciting games.”
In those games, Schneider’s defensive unit was tasked with stopping some premier talent, including AJ Rodrigues at South Carroll, Liberty quarterback Jack Pellicciotti and Dundalk’s powerful duo of quarterback Ja Bonner and running back Jordan Fiorenza.
“We watch a lot of film on those guys, they’re all great players,” Schneider said. “You know they’re going to get some; you’re not going to stop them every play. So we just try to limit that as much as possible. In those games, all those players made big plays, it’s just about us responding and stopping them as much as we can. Coaches are putting together a really good game plan, every game plan we had this year was on point. Coaches are putting in so much preparation, it’s insane how they know what they’re running, it’s just up to us to go and stop it.”
Despite his big numbers, Schneider knows he can’t do it himself. He’s the beneficiary of his coaches putting him in the right position and his teammates doing their jobs so Schneider can do his.
“I think our scheme puts me in position to make a lot of tackles at times,” he said. “I give a lot of credit to our defensive line for holding down our blocks. Guys that have to set the edge, it looks good for me because I get a lot of tackles, but it is a lot to do with our scheme and how we set things up for the defense. It really takes an entire team effort. We have a lot of studs on our team.”
Schneider says he’s been playing football since he was 4 years old and “loved every minute of it,” though he doesn’t know if college football is in his future. Regardless of what comes next, he hopes he and the rest of this year’s Westminster seniors have left a path for the next group to follow.
“I feel like we’ve given them a pretty good example of what needs to be done to win,” he said. “It starts at practice, I think we were up and down a little bit but overall we’ve shown them what they need to do in practice and the intensity they need to bring at practice. They got a lot of good players still and with the coaches we have, I think they’ll do very well still.”
All-County first team
Markel Brown, Manchester Valley, senior, defensive line
Brown was a disruptive force as a defensive end with 61 tackles and 10 sacks on the season.
Luke Collins, Liberty, senior, defensive line
Collins was dominant up front as a tackle, finishing the season with 58 tackles and six sacks.
Nick Koumentis, Westminster, senior, defensive line
Koumentis finished with 52 tackles as a defensive end, including 14 for loss. He tied a team-high with eight sacks.
Collin Murphy, Liberty, senior, defensive line
Murphy played defensive end for the Lions and finished with a team-high 10 sacks. He also totaled 46 tackles.
Matiyos Thielman, Westminster, senior, defensive line
Thielman’s 58 tackles were third-most on the Owls. Thirteen of his tackles were for loss and he also recorded eight sacks.
Mason Ambrose, Liberty, junior, linebacker
Ambrose finished the season with 55 tackles, including 40 solo. He also had a sack and a forced fumble.
Caleb Blum, South Carroll, senior, linebacker
Blum led the Cavaliers with 100 tackles, second-most in the county, including 21 for loss. He also had five sacks.
Nate Boore, South Carroll, senior, linebacker
Boore recorded 91 tackles, including nine for loss. He had five sacks, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Andy Grandinetti, Westminster, senior linebacker
Grandinetti finished with 45 tackles, seven of which were for loss. He also had three sacks and one forced fumble.
Nico Marsicano, Liberty, junior, linebacker
Marsicano topped Liberty with 86 tackles on the season. He also had a sack, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
Colin Perrier, Century, senior, linebacker
Perrier had 10 or more tackles in three games, finishing with 78. He also recorded four sacks and blocked a punt.
Mike Pizzuto, South Carroll, senior, linebacker
Pizzuto was third on the Cavaliers with 78 tackles. He was also effective dropping into pass coverage and had three pass breakups.
Dawit Rutter, Francis Scott Key, senior, linebacker
Rutter led the Eagles through the regular season with 49 tackles. He also had one sack and recovered a fumble.
Jesse Tobias, Winters Mill, senior, linebacker
Tobias was strong against the run and the pass, finishing the season with 46 tackles and three interceptions.
Dean Beaumier, Liberty, senior, defensive back
The Lions’ safety intercepted three passes and made 57 tackles. His 44 solo tackles were second on the team.
Carter Dinicola, Century, senior, defensive back
Dinicola finished with a county-best five interceptions. He also was the Knights’ top receiver and a kick returner.
Clayton Dorsey, Westminster, junior, defensive back
Dorsey was second on Westminster with 80 tackles, including 13 for loss. He also intercepted one pass and forced two fumbles.
Carter Mazalewski, South Carroll, junior, defensive back
Mazalewski was a two-way star for the Cavaliers, also leading the team as quarterback. On defense, he intercepted two passes and had 38 tackles.
Blake Ray, Manchester Valley, senior, defensive back
Ray was third on the Mavericks with 47 tackles and took on the responsibility of covering the opposition’s top receiver.
Ben Stevens, Francis Scott Key, junior, defensive back
Stevens was a two-way starter for the Eagles, also playing quarterback. Defensively, he had 37 tackles and an interception.
All-County second team
Gary Bavetta Francis Scott Key, junior, defensive line
Tanner Eckardt, Manchester Valley, senior, defensive line
Nick Forstner, Liberty, junior, defensive line
James Graham, South Carroll, sophomore, defensive line
Paris Lee, Winters Mill, junior, defensive line
Janero Marchany, South Carroll, junior, defensive line
Derek Martin Manchester Valley, senior, defensive line
Hayden Askew, Manchester Valley, junior, linebacker
Daniel Defebo, Francis Scott Key, junior, linebacker
Cru Boog, Manchester Valley, sophomore, linebacker
Braedan Fourham, Manchester Valley, sophomore, linebacker
Noah Geiman, Francis Scott Key, senior, linebacker
Trey Helmick, Century, junior, linebacker
Carroll County Daily Headlines
Nick Kelly, Manchester Valley, senior, linebacker
Will Litz, Winters Mill, senior, linebacker
Brett Overmann, Liberty, senior, linebacker
Will Snyder, Winters Mill, junior, linebacker
Marquis Morris, Manchester Valley, senior, defensive back
John Manley, Westminster, junior, defensive back
Drake Hebron, South Carroll, senior, defensive back