THURMONT — As expected, Doug Williams didn’t want to go anywhere near the question.
Williams, in his 29th season as the varsity football coach at Catoctin, tends to speak very cautiously about this team, especially at this early juncture of the season.
It’s still too early, he likes to remind. There is too much to prove over the balance of the season. Too many things, including those unforeseen, can happen.
So, when Williams was asked this week if this Catoctin offense has the chance to be the best in school history, there was no chance he was going to be prompted or prodded into providing a soundbite that he might eventually rue.
“We are two games in, man. How can you brag after two games?” Williams said.
Like it or not, though, the question figures to follow the Cougars (2-0) throughout the season and will likely be a hot topic of conversation after their games.
The team is bursting at the seams with talent. Receivers Travis Fields and Mason Clark combined to produce 1,445 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. Running backs Carson Sickeri and Jacob Baker jointly produced 1,352 yards and 29 touchdowns. The offensive line is back in its entirety.
Where does a defense turn? How can it all be stopped?
“It’s such a luxury to have all of these people to throw to and all of these weapons. It gives me a lot of choices,” said Ryan Orr, a junior and first-year varsity starter at quarterback who suddenly finds himself at the controls of a potential juggernaut.
Even Catoctin’s state championship team in 2009 was not blessed with this many options and this kind of quality depth at the skill positions. Blessed with tremendous speed that season, the Cougars ran their traditional Wing-T.
Their top two running backs, Austin Carter and Paul Barbour, combined for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns, and their outstanding senior quarterback, Dylan May, passed for 1,292 yards and 13 touchdowns, in addition to being a threat to run.
Gradually over the last five years, as the talent improved at receiver, Catoctin began to transition its offense into more of a spread formation. Now, it’s not uncommon for the Cougars to line up in four-receiver sets.
This makes senior receiver Eli Frei chuckle because he knows the school’s football past is rooted in the running game.
But last season, Christian Michael, a three-year starter at quarterback, led Fredrick County in passing yards (1,988). He completed more than 50 percent of his passes and threw for 19 touchdowns.
“Not only is [the offense] much more fun to play in, it makes the other team not know what to prepare for,” Frei said of the added passing dimension.
So far this season, Catoctin passed for more than 300 yards in a 43-36 season-opening road win over Class 1A West regional rival Boonsboro and then ran for 300-plus yards last week in a 43-0 victory in Frostburg over Mountain Ridge, a team it rarely plays and had never previously beaten.
“It’s interesting to be a part of [the offense],” said Baker, who ran for more than 100 yards in the victory over Boonsboro. “We can really decide what we want to do going into a game, no matter what the defense is going to be.”
Mason Clark, a four-year varsity player, hasn’t even stepped on the field yet as he continues to recover from ACL surgery last spring.
Clark, who caught 37 passes for 586 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns last season, is practicing with the team and could make his season debut in Friday’s home opener against Frederick.
So, back to the question. Is this the best offense in the history of Catoctin High School football?
“We haven’t peaked yet,” Baker said. “I’ll be excited to see when we actually do peak.”