Football: Westminster 'hungry' for second regional final rematch with Linganore

Westminster quarterback Christian Etchison rolls out to pass during the first half of the Owls' game against Century in Eldersburg Friday, Oct. 5, 2018.
Westminster quarterback Christian Etchison rolls out to pass during the first half of the Owls' game against Century in Eldersburg Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Westminster and Linganore are set to renew their playoff rivalry Friday night in the Class 3A West Region final, and the Owls want to end their losing skid to the Lancers.

The Owls came up short in three previous meetings with the Lancers — twice in the regular season and once in last year’s regional final at Westminster. They last faced one another on Sept. 14 at Linganore and the home team routed the Owls 45-7.


The Owls (8-3) came close to stopping the Lancers at Ruby Field in last year’s 3A West final, but the eventual state champions edged the Owls 16-14. They went on to win their sixth state championship and returned with plenty of their top threats this season.

“Their program is a well-oiled machine and Coach [Rick] Conner and the staff there is in tune to everything,” Owls coach Matt Study said. “The players are selfless and they execute so well, it’s so secure what they do and they do the things expertly well. They’re well-coached and we have athletes too, the guys are hungry.

“This is the fourth time in two years we’re playing these guys and the tables have always gone towards Linganore, so we’re hungry one time for us.”

Westminster has its weapons, and much of the team’s success can be attributed to a balanced offensive attack. Senior quarterback Christian Etchison missed two games because of a concussion, but has played well since his return in Week 10 against South Carroll.

Etchison leads the county with 1,586 passing yards and 16 touchdowns, but his talent carries weight on the ground as well. He is one of the team’s rushing leaders with 537 yards and seven touchdowns, while teammate Jaden Louis leads Westminster with 943 yards and three TDs.

Senior receiver Tavian Montgomery has 30 receptions for 432 yards and six touchdowns, all team highs. Study pointed to the Owls’ line of scrimmage as having another positive impact on the team’s success — on defense, senior Jake Busic leads this unit with 59 tackles.

“If we need the run game to take off, that’s what we rely on,” Study said. “Jaden & Co. have done a great job and Christian being a threat and able to run the football, he definitely carries a lot too. We have five or six receivers … that catch the ball and they do the little things. Across the line, we have four or five guys that Linganore cannot say they’re going to cover one guy, they’re going to have to cover everybody.”

Linganore (10-1) returns senior threats quarterback Ryan Leyh and receiver Joey Felton, as well as linebackers Jackson Ambush and Joey Bromley. The Lancers have not lost since Oct. 5, when Oakdale came to Linganore and routed the home team 56-7.

They defeated Blake 45-8 last week in the regional semifinals to earn a second consecutive spot in the region final.

Westminster is coming off a 24-21 victory over South Hagerstown, and it was the second time the Owls beat the Rebels this year. The Owls are 9-8 in their playoff history through 10 playoff appearances.

Study’s father Richard died Saturday, and he said the Owls have been very supportive through the week.

“They’ve been very focused this week and we haven’t gotten after them, they’ve gotten after it when we’ve needed them to,” Study said. “There haven’t been crazy long practices; they’ve been watching a lot of film. Throwing in the fact with my personal stuff with my father, the team has really rallied. My dad was a huge supporter and traveled all over the place with the boys all summer … they really got that under their wing.”