The start to Joe Riddle's senior season couldn't have gotten off to a much better start.
"Our first game was against a very good South Carroll football team," said Linganore coach Rick Conner. "It was 6-0 and we decided, 'OK, let's give Joe some chances.' He took a jet sweep for about 75 yards and made it 7-6. On the first play of the second half, he took a power off-tackle, bounced it and he was gone, 65 yards. The game was over, really."
Final score: Lancers 28, Cavaliers 6. Riddle's stat line that night came out to 232 yards rushing on 25 carries. The next five and a half games were more of the same for Riddle, a Maryland-bound running back.
"It's funny because I'm coaching defense, meeting with the defensive guys," Conner said, "and all of sudden you hear a big roar from the crowd [and say], 'Well, Joe got loose.' It happens. He's a one-play touchdown guy.
But all that ended in Linganore's Week 7 game against Walkersville.
"It was the first play of the second half," Conner said. "[He] just ran an inside play, got twisted the wrong way and popped the outside bone in his lower leg. We thought it was a high-ankle sprain and he'd be out a while. A high-ankle sprain, Joe's a pretty tough kid who would probably still play. But the broken bone caused a great deal of pain. The thing blew up on him."
Just like that, Riddle's senior season was over. Linganore (7-4) fell to Walkersville and closed out the season with a 2-2 mark in its last four Riddle-less games. The future Terp, who finished his season with 917 yards and nine touchdowns on 111 carries, plus two catches for 46 yards and one score, was relegated to the sideline.
"He was great," Conner said. "He came to practice, was at all the games. And it hurt that he couldn't play when he put so much into it. Joe lives and breathes football. To have it taken away -- he's building up for senior year, and we had a pretty good team this year -- it was tough to take at times."
Conner said Riddle's rehab has gone very well, and the coach expects his star running back to participate in indoor track soon after Christmas. Riddle's focused now on getting ready for his future at Maryland. Conner said that despite the Terps' 2-10 season, Riddle never wavered on his commitment.
"Not at all," Conner said. "He loves going down there to visit and he just likes it. He can't wait to get to work. He can't wait."
Conner said the Maryland staff likes Riddle's speed and will start him out in the backfield. The Lancers coach is confident that the Terps will soon discover what he learned about his star player over the past few seasons.
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"What a great player he was and how he just showed up to play and you never had to do anything to get Joe going," Conner said. "He's self-motivated and brings an incredible talent level. He's one of the best we've ever had. The best football is ahead of him."