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Football: Westminster wants to keep its focus, play ‘in rhythm’

Westminster football head coach Chris Bassler walks the sidelines during a game against South River at Westminster High School on Friday, September 6.
Westminster football head coach Chris Bassler walks the sidelines during a game against South River at Westminster High School on Friday, September 6. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Westminster suffered two difficult losses to start the 2019 season, and first-year Owls coach Chris Bassler said much of the team’s discussion following those losses focused on getting the “train back on the track.”

Bassler said the focus now shifts to keeping the “train” on that track as the Owls enter Week 4 with a 31-13 victory against Carroll County Athletic League foe South Carroll behind them now.

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“It’s about keeping with our identity, and really it’s just about playing in rhythm,” Bassler said. “We were out of rhythm the first two weeks and last week we made a couple subtle changes to help us stay in rhythm and I think it really helped us.”

One of those changes came in the form of senior Ben Flowers. Flowers, who originally played at receiver for the Owls, was moved to running back against the Cavaliers in last week’s contest. He scored two first half touchdowns — a 53-yard reception from quarterback Jalen Bradford and later, a 35-yard rush up the middle that gave the Owls a 21-0 lead in the second quarter.

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Flowers used to play running back in middle school and dabbled in the position during his freshman year as well. He said he feels comfortable at either role, and likes them both the same.

“We have a lot of muscle up front,” Flowers said. “Having playmakers gives us a good combination for both offense and defense in getting the players the balls and making them do what they came here to do.”

Teammate Erick Stranko also scored twice in helping the Owls rout SC, and Flowers added that the Owls’ offense matched the defense in last week’s rout of SC as well.

“For us, it’s really about trying to put the right guys in the right situations at the right times,” Bassler said. “It’s one thing where you have guys like Ben, Erick, and Nate Mattingly — who missed last week, but is coming back this week — and obviously Jalen at quarterback and some of our receivers.

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“It makes us more difficult to defend because we’re not just doing one thing. We’re trying a couple different things and creating opportunities for our guys to make plays.”

The Owls take on Glenelg at Ruby Field on Friday with hopes to improve their record to 2-2. The Gladiators (2-1) dropped their season opener to Urbana in overtime, but won two straight to set up this week’s matchup.

“It’s another opportunity to prove ourselves against a good football team,” Bassler said. “We’re either going to take a big step forward tomorrow night in our hunt for the playoffs, or a big step back. I think those kinds of opportunities are exciting.”

Across the county in Week 4, Francis Scott Key hosts Liberty in its fourth straight home game this fall. The Eagles (1-2, 0-1) lost their Carroll County Athletic League opener last week to Winters Mill after quarterback Matheo Cuenca scored on a keeper with 30 seconds left to play to lift the Falcons to a 20-17 victory.

Winters Mill quarterback Matheo Cuenca runs in the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Falcons' game against FSK in Uniontown Friday, Sept. 20, 2019.
Winters Mill quarterback Matheo Cuenca runs in the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Falcons' game against FSK in Uniontown Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (Dylan Slagle/Carroll County TImes)

The Lions (1-2, 1-0) suffered losses to Linganore and Walkersville to start the season, but defeated crosstown rival Century in the annual Freedom Bell rivalry game for a fourth straight year to garner their first win of 2019.

Manchester Valley is 3-0 entering Friday’s home contest against South Carroll and looks to maintain its winning ways. The Cavaliers (0-3, 0-1) are in sight of their first win after falling to Westminster in last week’s county opener.

Winters Mill hosts Century, and the Falcons are on a two-game winning streak. Century (1-2, 0-1) defeated Poolesville in Week 2, and the Knights hope to maximize their potential against the Falcons.

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