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2019 Football Preview: South Carroll holding on to ‘faith and trust’ in one another this fall

South Carroll quarterback Dylan O'Neill throws a pass during a practice in Winfield Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019.
South Carroll quarterback Dylan O'Neill throws a pass during a practice in Winfield Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Be prepared for South Carroll to operate with more swagger in 2019.

The Cavaliers are a small Class 2A school made up of athletes who come together to work hard day in and day out to increase their chances of improvement, senior lineman Mike Crown said.

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Crown, the team’s lone returning athlete from last fall’s Times all-county first team, said to expect a lot of energy from Parker Field this fall.

“I feel like we didn’t have enough energy as a team last year so we’re really trying to emphasize that to make a difference this year,” added senior Dylan O’Neill. “We’re all really close to each other and we have everyone’s back so hopefully it’s a good season.”

Two-way standout Ryan Gallagher graduated after giving the Cavs support at both receiver and defensive back. Gallagher led the team with 38 receptions for 660 yards and seven TDs — he also led the Cavs with 63 tackles on defense. TJ Hogan, another first-teamer, also graduated and he helped man South Carroll’s defense.

Look for senior running back Sebastian Sanchez to make some noise for the Cavs this fall. Sanchez had 35 carries for 91 yards as the team’s third leading rusher last season. Sanchez also notched 25 tackles on defense. Opportunities for new leadership in the running game have certainly increased following the graduation of Hogan and Mason Gavin.

O’Neill is set to take over quarterback duties for Gavin, who graduated after leading the Cavs with 1,220 passing yards and 12 touchdowns. Gavin also ran for 715 yards, fourth most in Carroll last fall, and scored seven touchdowns.

The Cavs return Crown, an all-county defensive lineman, after he compiled 52 tackles as a junior in 2018 (third most on the team). South Carroll looks to operate out of a four-man front on defense this season.

Mike Kraus, the Cavs’ second-year head coach, said he named O’Neill the team’s starter early in the offseason to allow him to prepare himself mentally and physically for the quarterback role.

“He’s had a great camp and he’s got a good, strong arm with a great football IQ,” Kraus said. “I think our running game is going to make the quarterback position that much easier for him to go with it because I believe we’re going to be a very strong running football team.”

Kraus is in his second year as the team’s head coach and has been involved with the South Carroll program for 16 years overall. Kraus said this year’s Cavaliers will be an aggressive, attacking-style defensive team and will look to garner total control of the ball on offense in a spread formation.

SC posted a 5-5 record last fall and won Carroll County Athletic League games against Winters Mill, Francis Scott Key, and Manchester Valley. The Cavaliers missed the playoffs in 2018 and haven’t made a postseason trip since 2015, but this year’s squad anticipates a new journey when it travels to C. Milton Wright to get the season underway Friday.

South Carroll’s first county contest is Sept. 20 against rival Westminster at Parker Field.

“Since we’re mainly running the ball this year, I have a lot of faith and trust in my linemen to block and keep me protected,” Sanchez said. “They don’t get enough respect or acknowledgment and I wouldn’t be anything without them.”

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