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Monday Morning Quarterback: South Carroll wants to be 'true' county champ

When South Carroll and Westminster square off Friday in Winfield, it won't count as a county game for the Cavaliers.

SC has already won the county championship, going 6-0 in the county portion of its schedule, capped off with a 42-7 win on the road against Century this past Friday night.

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The Owls (3-6) are independent from Carroll for the first time this season. They loaded their schedule with tough competition and in doing so, they will have their first losing season since 2007 this year. Westminster has lost back-to-back games, coming off losses at home to Linganore and Tuscarora.

Even though the Cavaliers (8-1, 6-0 county) are already county champs and have already clinched their spot in the Class 2A West playoffs, they certainly have their motivation to end the regular season with a win.

Not just to lock up the top seed in their region, but also to show they truly are the best team in the county.

"We've still got one more county game left in our minds," SC coach Steve Luette said. "For us to win the county, we feel we have to win [this] week, so that's the next goal — to be able to be the true county champions."

Bare essential for Man Valley

In recent years, high school teams have increasingly turned to the spread offense with quarterbacks receiving shotgun snaps and multiple receivers spreading throughout the formation.

Manchester Valley (6-3, 3-2) is known for this, too.

But with bruising running back Ethan Bare on the roster, sometimes it's just best to line up and run it.

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After struggling to get first downs in the first quarter of a 21-0 win over Winters Mill Friday night, the Manchester Valley coaching staff made a pivotal adjustment.

The Mavericks cut back on the number of shotgun snaps. Senior quarterback Jake Gerber lined up under center and senior fullback Trevor Fuller entered the game.

Manchester Valley went to old-school, smash-mouth football. And it worked.

Despite senior lineman Parker Reitz missing another game due to injury, the Mavericks rushed for 314 yards on 48 rushes, an average 6.4 yards per carry.

Bare had a career-high 214 yards. Even when he didn't get the carry, he made a difference.

After a 44-yard second quarter run by Bare, Manchester Valley coaches called for a run up the middle by Fuller. The Winters Mill defense, which was focused on stopping Bare, was caught off guard by the fullback dive play. Fuller rumbled 24 yards for a touchdown.

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Bare, a team captain, was clearly enthusiastic about his opportunity for so many rushes Friday night. But he understands the big picture.

"Whatever it takes," he said. "If we have to throw it, we can. If we have to run it like [Friday night], we can do that too."

Manchester Valley coach Tony Shermeyer expressed concern about relying on Bare too much. He also plays middle linebacker for the Manchester Valley defense. And in a perfect world, the Mavericks would prefer not to wear him down with 20-plus carries. He briefly left the game in the second half Friday night with what appeared to be a leg cramp.

But with a showdown at rival North Carroll (2-7, 1-4) this Friday and the playoffs looming, it might be time for more Bare. Manchester Valley is 6-3 and comfortably atop the Class 1A North region.

When Shermeyer talked about hopefully getting players back from injury, he said it was his hope the Mavericks would be playing their best football entering the playoffs. It remains to be seen if that means more passing, more runs or a combination of the two.

Century hurt by big plays

South Carroll opened Friday night's game against Century by junior Jamar Williams scoring on an 80-yard touchdown run.

But for the most part, the Knights did a decent job of limiting the Cavaliers' rushing attack.

Steven Baca, the county's leading rusher, had a 22-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, but that was his only run of longer than four yards against the Century defense. The Knights held Baca to 49 yards on 16 carries.

After Williams' long run on the first play, Century allowed just 97 yards on the ground.

"We just made a few mistakes here and there," Knights coach Jim Holzman said, "and when you do that against a good football team, they can take advantage of it."

Century (5-4, 3-2) will need to limit the big plays when it travels to Liberty (7-2, 5-1) this Friday.

Streaking

Francis Scott Key (1-7, 1-4) snapped its county-worst 17-game losing streak this past Friday with a 28-13 win over North Carroll.

Winters Mill (1-8, 0-5) now has the longest losing streak in the county at eight games. The Falcons last won in Week 1 against Patterson Mill.

On the other side, South Carroll has won six in a row and Liberty has won five in a row.

One more week

The playoffs begin on Nov. 13, and it looks more like Carroll will have just two teams in the postseason.

South Carroll and Manchester Valley will each be in the playoffs, and can earn the top seeds in their respective regions with wins in Week 10. The Cavaliers are first in 2A West, while the Mavericks are first in 1A North.

Liberty is fifth in 2A West, but sits behind Walkersville (7-2), which finishes its regular season at Middletown this week.

North Carroll slipped to sixth in 1A North and are behind Surrattsville and McDonough for a playoff berth.

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