ANNAPOLIS — For 13 weeks of this high school football season, the difference between Linganore and its opponents was physical dominance.
The Lancers were able to impose their will on virtually everyone they played with the blunt force of their straight-ahead running game and the iron will of its defense, which often bent but refused to break.
On Thursday night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, physical dominance was once again the difference in the Class 3A championship game. Only this time, it was Linganore that was trying to keep pace with its opponent.
Damascus whipped the Lancers physically from start to finish on its way to a 38-0 victory and an 11th state title, pulling the Swarmin’ Hornets (12-2) within one championship of Seneca Valley for the record in Maryland high school football.
For most of the game, it was a struggle for Linganore (12-2) to move the ball against Damascus’ formidable defensive front, which featured 6-foot-5, 290-pound senior Bryan Bresee, who played his freshman season at Urbana before transferring.
The Clemson-bound Bresee spent most of the night in the Lancers’ backfield, often greeting the quarterback or ball carrier before they were able to produce yardage. He also scored the game’s first touchdown on a Refrigerator Perry style run from the 2-yard line late in the first quarter.
Linganore finished with just 66 total yards — compared to 463 for Damascus — and didn’t pick up their second first down until the opening minute of the fourth quarter on a 13-yard run by junior receiver Johan Samayoa.
“It’s a shame. We didn’t play our best football game tonight. Damascus had a lot to do with that,” Lancers coach Rick Conner said.
When asked about the Swarmin’ Hornets physical dominance in relation to his own physically gifted team, Conner said, “They are as good as advertised. Yes, they are.”
For most of the season, teams have had two choices when facing Linganore. Either load up around the line of scrimmage to stop junior Xander McClure and the Lancers’ rushing attack or sit back and risk getting run over by it.
Over the last two weeks, both North Point and Mervo loaded up their defensive fronts to stop the run, and Linganore was able to capitalize with play-action passes and halfback passes over the top to earn wins in the state quarterfinals and semifinals.
But Damascus was big enough, strong enough and talented enough along the defensive front that it didn’t have to sell out to stop the run. The Swarmin’ Hornets were able to run their normal defense and still get the job done.
McClure, a 2,000-yard plus rusher for Linganore over the course of the season for Linganore, finished with 37 yards on 10 carries.
“I thought we were able to shut down their run, which we anticipated that’s what they wanted to do,” Damascus coach Eric Wallich said.
“We thought the counter to that would be some of the trick plays that they like to run, and I thought we prepared really well. And the guys did a really good job executing the game plan, and our defense has been lights out pretty much all year. Tonight was no exception.”
Conner declared afterward that Linganore’s season wasn’t going to be defined by one game.
The Lancers were once again the dominant team in Frederick County and finished 12-1 against in-state opponents this season.
The senior class developed a tight bond and played in more than 40 games during their time in the program.
“I love these guys,” Dustin Keith, one of the finest lineman to come through the Linganore program, said through tears after the game.
Despite losing 18 starters from last season to graduation, the Lancers were still able to reach the 3A championship game for the third consecutive season and 13th time overall.
For the second consecutive season, they fell one win short of extending their Frederick County record for football state championships to seven.
“It stings. It hurts,” Conner said after the loss. “But we are going to remember a lot of other things about this season that are special. ... This is a special group of kids. As a coach, I feel very lucky.”