Linganore (2-0) vs. No. 9 Westminster (2-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Urbana High School (Ijamsville)
Coaches: Matt Study, Westminster; Rick Conner, Linganore
KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH
Westminster: DB Tavian Montgomery, Sr.; QB Christian Etchison, Sr., RB-LB Jaden Louis, Sr.; DL Jacob Busic, Sr.; WR Ryan Clatterbuck, Sr.
Linganore: QB Ryan Leyh, Sr.; WR-DB Joey Felton, Sr.; LB Jackson Ambush, Sr.; OL-DL Dustin Keith, Jr.; OL Matt Beekey, Sr.
KEYS TO VICTORY
Westminster lost just two games last season and both were to the Lancers, who went on to win the Class 3A state championship. The Owls got clobbered in the regular-season game, 50-28, but came much closer in the 3A West regional final, falling 16-14. Etchison suffered a knee injury late in the first half with the score already 16-14 and the Lancers held on.
The Owls haven’t beaten the Lancers since 2012, the last time they reached the state semifinals. Linganore has won six straight in the series, but Conner said he’s always prepared for a battle.
“Their kids play hard,” Conner said. “They’re really good at the skill positions and usually very large on the line of scrimmage. They’re well coached. They have good special teams. They really don’t have a weakness, so usually it’s a grind-out game.”
The defending Carroll County champion Owls opened their season with a rout of another Frederick County team, Urbana. Louis ran for 119 yards on 14 carries in the 43-7 win. Etchison threw three touchdown passes, two to Clatterbuck.
After two games, Louis ranks third in Carroll County in rushing yards with 198.
Last week, South Hagerstown gave the Owls a tougher challenge, but Westminster pulled out a 19-18 win. Etchison ran for two short touchdowns and Evan Warren kicked two field goals.
While the Owls have an experienced, versatile offense, so do the Lancers, who have won nine straight games.
Linganore opened its season with a 45-7 win over Archbishop Curley and defeated a speedy, athletic Edgewood team last week, 54-18. In the win over Edgewood, Felton had 161 receiving yards and a touchdown and also returned an interception for a touchdown. Leyh threw for 238 yards and three touchdowns.
Last year’s 16-14 playoff game has been, by far, the closest contest between the two since the Owls last victory in 2012. In between, the closest the Owls had come was within 19.
However, with a strong returning core, confidence gained from last season’s close call and lessons learned from last week’s games, the Owls could turn the series around.
“They’re running the ball a little bit more with a Wing T type of set, which is new,” Conner said. “They’re still a spread. They’ve got a great quarterback. They’ve got an outstanding running back and their wide receivers are all big-play guys, so they’re really good.”
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
» No. 13 Arundel at South River, Friday, 6:30 p.m.
» Bishop Moore (Fla.) at No. 2 Archbishop Spalding, Friday, 7 p.m.
» No. 3 Calvert Hall at Riverdale Baptist, Friday, 7 p.m.
» John Carroll at Bel Air, Friday, 7 p.m.