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Rec Sports Spotlight: More local gridders enjoy Super Bowl wins

Rec Sports Spotlight: More local gridders enjoy Super Bowl wins
The Westminster Wildcats recently won a Carroll County Youth Football League Super Bowl title for the 7-8 age group. Front row, from let: Austin Bainbridge, Connor Moran, Ben Ruby, Cian McCauley, Luke Proffitt, Aiden Stair, Noah Renner, Will Tobias, Skylar Williams. Back row: Aiden Stino, Teddy Boothe, Thomas Andrews, Jeremy Smulian, Erick Stranko, Connor Levinson, Anthony Cegielski, Cam Vogel, Christian Heck.

North Carroll and Westminster teams capped off two different types of seasons in winning Carroll County Youth Football League Freedom Division championships two Saturdays ago.

The North Carroll Titans completed a perfect season by blanking Montgomery County 16-0 in the CCYFL's ages 7-9 Super Bowl. An underdog Westminster Wildcats squad finished an amazing one by thrashing Damascus 32-8 in their ages 11-13 Bowl game.

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Titans coach Tom Seiss felt confident going into the championship tiff even though his kids faced a rematch with Montgomery County, which gave them a lot of trouble in their earlier game. His team had held off the Gaithersburg-based Knights 18-15 in early October.

However, the coach says he didn't change much for his Bowl game. He said he developed a few new offensive plays but never used them.

The first half was scoreless with the Knights mounting the only serious threat. They completed a 30-yard pass but Titans safety A.J. Anderson got back to strip the ball from the receiver and recover the fumble.

Faced with a stubborn opponent that had stopped his team the first half, Seiss gave his kids an intermission reminder to spur them on.

"I told them at halftime to remember that feeling we had after last year's Super Bowl [ages 6-8] when we lost to Damascus. I reminded them we didn't want to have that feeling again," Seiss said.

North Carroll scored early in the third quarter when Derek Seiss ran 50 yards to pay dirt after the line opened a huge hole. Montgomery County, thoroughly stymied by the Titans' defense, gambled on a fourth-down play deep in its own territory with about five minutes remaining in the game. However, North Carroll stopped them and took over at its opponents' 27-yard line.

The locals ate up the clock and the yards with running plays until Anderson went over from about 3 yards out.

Cru Boog then booted his second two-point conversion for the final 16-0 score.

With the championship now in hand, the kids can sit back and relax until practice starts for next year's youth football season. But not Seiss.

"I can't wait," he said.

Wildcats coach Jason Bainbridge, on the other hand, won't be coaching these kids next year. Almost all of the players move on to Westminster or Winters Mill.

But they will likely never forget the unforgettable. They will always remember their final Wildcats season which saw them rise from so-so to so great in the course of a few weeks.

Bainbridge said that improved defense was the big key to the team's resurgence over the final half of the season. It allowed only 42 points in winning four of its final six games. Twenty-two of those came in a loss to Damascus.

That undefeated Montgomery County-based powerhouse would be the Wildcats' opponent in the Super Bowl. It had allowed only 38 points in nine regular season games and nobody had scored more than one touchdown in a game against its defense this season.

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Damascus handled Westminster 22-6 in their regular season meeting, so Bainbridge decided to make some changes.

"They moved the ball well on us, and we had trouble against their sweeps. So, we switched from a 5-3 to a 4-4 defense," the coach said.

He felt that having the extra defender behind the line would shut down any long gains from Damascus' outside running game.

He noted that his own team had moved the ball well in the earlier loss, but it also hurt itself badly with turnovers.

However it got off to a great start at Arbutus Middle School two Saturdays ago. Westminster took the opening kickoff 75 yards with a series of running plays. Will Tobias scored on a short run, Anthony Cegielski kicked his first of four two-point conversions, and Westminster led 8-0.

Quarterback Austin Bainbridge threw a 25-yard scoring pass to Eric Stranko in the second quarter, and Westminster led 16-0.

Westminster pulled an on-side kick on Damascus to open the second half. It recovered the ball at midfield.

The Wildcats then drove it downfield on running plays until Tobias scored his second touchdown on another short run. The kick upped the score to 24-0.

In the fourth quarter, Damascus changed offenses by putting a running back at quarterback. The move strengthened the ground game and Damascus took it down the field to score, cutting the Carroll kids' lead to 24-8.

Bainbridge responded by going back to a 5-3 defense, and that shut down Damascus' running attack.

Westminster then consumed most of the remaining clock with a 70-yard drive. Tobias scored his third touchdown of the day, and Cegielski booted his fourth two-point conversion to make the final score 32-8.

"The kids were really ecstatic. They went from never having won a playoff game to winning a Super Bowl over a team that everybody thought was invincible," Bainbridge said.

He says he will come back with a new Westminster team next season. Bainbridge will take the reins of the Wildcats' ages 10-12 squad, on which his son Collin plays.

He says he should have a pretty good team next year. But it will have to go quite a distance to match the excitement of this one.

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