Noah Boguski said building a football team is like putting a puzzle together.
It can take weeks to figure out which players fit in the right positions, he said, and the Owls used a 50-28 loss at Linganore in Week 3 to connect those pieces.
They haven’t lost since.
“You have to find what’s going to fit and that’s what we did here,” said Boguski, a senior lineman. “Our O-line is completely different compared to Week 3, we have a lot of new guys and the perfect thing is to just find the perfect setup for everything. We’ve done that now. We found where everyone fits into our puzzle and I think with that, no one can beat us.”
The Owls (10-1) and Lancers (9-2) meet Friday night in the Class 3A West Region final, a highly anticipated rematch between the two teams. The winner will advance to the 3A state semifinals next weekend for a chance to play in the state championship game, held at the Naval Academy’s Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
The teams will meet at Ruby Field this time, and senior Aaron Golberg said it means a lot.
“Coach [Matt] Study always says we’re preparing for Linganore and that’s truly what we’re doing,” Golberg said. “We finally have our chance at redemption and we’ve been working hard all week to make sure that this time, we come out on top. We know we can do that and we know what we’re capable of. We were still young and figuring ourselves out around Week 3 but now that we’re here in Week 12, we’ve got our identity and we’re ready to rock and roll.”
The Owls have defeated every opponent by a decisive amount since that Week 3 loss, scoring 43.8 points per game. They routed crosstown rival Winters Mill 51-7 on Oct. 20 to secure their first county title since 2013, their fourth in seven years.
Salesianum, a top-tier team out of Delaware, was next. Westminster built a 17-0 lead and came away with a 30-20 victory. The Owls closed out the regular season by defeating rival South Carroll 48-16 to cap an undefeated county record.
It’s safe to say the Owls have worked through the kinks they had in the early stages of the season, in all facets of the game.
“I think we’re in a good position and the things we’ve been progressing and fine-tuning here, Study said. “We’ve got our o-line set, our defense dialed in and our skill guys — their numbers speak for themselves.”
Senior receiver Zane Lewis leads the Owls with 33 receptions for 565 yards and five touchdowns and running backs Jaden Louis and Erick Stranko help pace the Owls on the ground. Louis, a junior, has compiled 644 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns while Stranko, a freshman promoted to varsity before the Manchester Valley game in Week 4, has made quite a statement as a rookie.
Boguski helps lead a powerful offensive line for a team that has outscored its opponents 435-166.
“I think we’ve really come together as a team,” Boguski said. “After Week 3, we knew Linganore wasn’t 22 points better than us. We really felt motivated after that and we needed to prove ourselves. Our mission from Day One is to win a state championship and we all really got together after that and said Linganore is who we need to beat. We’re going to keep working and keep grinding until we can get to that and I think we’re finally at that point.”
Linganore coach Rick Conner said the foundation of what the Lancers do is based strictly on hard work. The Lancers have five state championships and their most recent came in 2009. Last week, they beat Blake 27-12 in the regional semifinals.
“We’ve been playing well and have gotten a little better each week so it’s exciting,” Conner said. “We’ve had a good week of practice and we’ve got our hands full with Westminster, but hopefully we fulfill our end of the bargain and make it a good game.”