Linganore’s football team had just broken its postgame huddle Friday in its home stadium, and Dustin Keith had a pressing need: his green winter jacket.
With his shoulder pads still on, the Lancers’ senior lineman couldn’t put on his coat the way one normally does. With the temperature hovering right around the freezing point, he opted for the next best thing, putting his left arm in the right sleeve of the coat and the right arm in the left sleeve.
Fittingly, as he talked about how Linganore’s defense had time and again managed to buckle down when Frederick was on the verge of getting into the end zone, he brought up a source of motivation.
“It was us wanting to run the clock, especially tonight with how cold it was,” Keith said after the Lancers beat the Cadets 49-14 in a Class 3A West first-round playoff game.
Despite another sterling performance from Linganore’s Xander McClure, who rushed for 281 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, it took a while for the Lancers to invoke the running clock. Behind quarterback Kisaye Barnes, who passed 195 yards and ran for 69, Frederick marched inside the Linganore 25-yard five times. Despite the lopsided result, it explains why Cadets coach Kevin Pirri said his team was “four or five plays away from changing every single game this season.”
In a position to make impactful plays on defense, Linganore (9-1) made them. On Frederick’s five long drives, the Cadets scored one touchdown — a 28-yard run by Barnes. The other four trips resulted in the Lancers forcing two turnovers on downs, Grayson Ruch blocking a field goal and Harry Heitzig picking off a Barnes pass.
“We bend but don’t break, and that’s what the coaches taught us, to never give up,” Keith said. “We showed that tonight.”
Brady Domroe and Will Coletti also had interceptions, and Frederick’s Travon Neal picked off a Timmy Conner pass and returned it 49 yards for a touchdown that tied the game at 14 with 3:32 left in the first quarter.
Linganore, which will host Rockville (8-2) in the second round next week, responded by scoring TDs on its next five drives, and the Lancers did not attempt a single pass in the process. Johan Samayoa ran for 70 yards, Domroe rushed for 62, and Joey Bruscia added 53.
McClure, meanwhile, recorded his fourth 200-yard rushing game of the season. It’s not necessarily a goal he has each game.
“I just do what [the coaches] tell me, run the plays they tell me and run behind my amazing line,” he said.
As for the Lancers’ bend-but-not-break defense, Conner said, “We have to work on that. We have to quit bending.”
“[Barnes] got loose early on, and that’s disappointing, but he’s a good player, so that’s going to happen,” Conner said. “Sometimes the toughest one to win is the first one.”
The Linganore coach was just as concerned about the penalties that piled up. In the first half alone, the Lancers had five penalties for 39 yards.
“We weren’t a well-coached team, and we’ll work on that this week,” Conner said.
Meanwhile, the Cadets (4-6) ended their season after breaking a seven-year playoff drought. Pirri summed up the postgame message to his team in two words: Thank you.
“It was a good year for us,” Pirri said. “They put us on the map, they helped us grow more than we could ever see.
“We’ve got a lot of things to fix as coaches, we got a lot of things to fix among the players, but those ... seniors that have been here for three years, they did this.”