What are the best high school teams in Frederick this fall?
Thanks to the coronavirus, we’ll likely have to wait until next spring to find out. The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association postponed fall and winter sports until after the first semester, which ends in January, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
So to help fill the void, The Frederick News-Post thought it would be fun to ask readers to pick the best Frederick County high school teams of all-time in each sport.
Each week, we’ll feature a sport and list contenders from years past in that sport. Readers can visit www.fredericknewspost.com to vote for the team they think is best. We’ll do this for all sports, fall, winter and spring.
Each Thursday, when we list candidates for another sport, we’ll reveal the team from the previous week’s sport that got the most votes.
This week’s sport: Football. May the best team win.
1968 Frederick Cadets
Don’t dismiss this team because it played in a bygone era — Frederick was loaded in 1968.
The Cadets possessed a ridiculous amount of athletic talent, enough to make one figure they could’ve easily contended for a state title if such a thing had existed in 1968 (the MPSSAA didn’t begin holding state championship games until 1974).
Two players from this team, Chuck Foreman and Bill Craven, reached the NFL. After playing for the University of Miami, Foreman starred as a running back for the Minnesota Vikings and finished his career with the New England Patriots. He played in three Super Bowls and made five Pro Bowls.
Craven, whose father Adam Craven was a Frederick coach, played 13 games as a defensive back for the Cleveland Browns in 1976 after playing two seasons with the Philadelphia Bell in the short-lived World Football League.
Two other 1968 Frederick football players became pro athletes in other sports. Before Petey Cooper threw pitches in the farm system of the Cincinnati Reds, who drafted him, he was a Cadets quarterback who tossed passes to Foreman in 1968. And a junior on this team, Kenny Boyd, played for the NBA’s New Orleans Jazz in 1974-75.
Several other Cadets played college football, including Frank Thomas (Howard), Ronnie Proctor (University of Maryland), Mike Garner (Frostburg State) and Daryl Hall (Boston University).
Frederick went 9-0 on the field, outscoring opponents 354-39 and posting five shutouts. The other opponent on their schedule, James Buchanan, forfeited.
1971 Thomas Johnson Patriots
Record: 10-0, Tri-State League champ, District I A-AA champ.
Dave Schrodel, in his first year at the helm of TJ’s program, was in the early stages of a legendary coaching career that would later see him guide Walkersville to a state crown.
The Patriots routinely won in dominating fashion, outscoring opponents 362-50. Their smallest margin of victory was 13 points against Westminster, and their defense posted five shutouts.
Just like the 1968 Frederick Cadets, this TJ team didn’t get a chance to contend for a state title because the MPSSAA offered no such opportunities.
But TJ’s supremacy didn’t go unnoticed in other parts of Maryland. The Baltimore Sun ranked TJ as the No. 1 team in the state, so this dominant team deserves consideration when picking Frederick County’s best.
TJ placed eight players in 11 different positions on the All Tri-State First Team. Brothers Ron Hall (offensive end-defensive back) and Tim Hall (running back-defensive end) and Charles Klein (offensive tackle-defensive interior lineman) earned honors on both offense and defense. All three first-team running backs were from TJ, Ernie Bowens (who shared quarterback duties with Ed Thompson), Tim Hall and Willie Gantt.
A contemporaneous column in The Frederick News-Post stated, “It was the type of season that athletes and fans will be talking about for years to come. In the future, they will fondly recall how they played for or watched the great Thomas Johnson team of 1971.”
1982 Thomas Johnson Patriots
Record: 12-0, Class A state champion
This was the first Frederick County football team to win an MPSSAA state title, and it did so in dominant fashion.
TJ outscored opponents 30.1 to 5.1. Its stingy defense posted six shutouts, with the final one coming in a 14-0 win over Northwood in the state final.
Coach Lynn Carr, who would later be Frederick County’s supervisor of athletics, guided a team loaded with talent. Three TJ players went on to start for Division I teams — Troy Wilson (Notre Dame), Paul Nelson (Virginia Tech) and Rob Klein (Maryland).
Wilson, as a defensive back, played with the Cleveland Browns in 1987, when the NFL used replacement players during a players strike, and in the Canadian Football League.
Other college-bound players were Doug Mattax (Duke), Eric Matzko (Delaware) and Chris Olson (Penn).
The offense featured a running game that gained over 3,500 yards, led by fullback Matzko (1,019 yards) and quarterback Wilson (994 yards on only 92 carries).
1992 Linganore Lancers
Record: 11-1, Class 3A state finalist
Yes, this team fell short of defending its state title, falling 14-0 in the championship game to Seneca Valley. But many feel this team was better than the 1991 team.
It’s no coincidence that both of those Linganore teams featured running back John Seymour. Piling up yards and touchdowns, Seymour — who signed with Delaware — was named Associated Press Maryland Player of the Year and Gatorade Player of the Year for Maryland in 1992.
This was the first Linganore team to go undefeated during the regular season. The first win was statement-worthy, a 41-7 thrashing against an Allegany team that handed the 1991 Lancers their only loss.
Linganore outscored opponents 365-99, a typically dominant performance during the era when Dave Carruthers, who later guided Urbana to four straight state titles, was at the helm.
2000 Urbana Hawks
Record: 13-0, Class 2A state champion
This was arguably the most dominant Urbana team during the program’s amazing 50-game winning streak, which lasted from 1998 to 2001 and included four straight state titles under Carruthers.
No, this team didn’t have Penn State-bound quarterback Zach Mills, who graduated after the 1999 season. But the Hawks were loaded with talent, including Division I-bound players such as quarterback-kicker Josh Brown (who went to South Carolina as a kicker), speedy receiver-kick returner Billy Gaines (Pittsburgh) and fullback-linebacker Brad Anderson (Vanderbilt).
Hawks defensive back Chris O’Connor was Frederick News-Post Defensive Player of the Year, while teammate Alex Herbert (a running back who starred at Shepherd) got Offensive Player of the Year honors.
Like so many other candidates in this best-of conversation, this team featured a stingy defense run by assistant Rick Conner, who would soon be contending for state titles after taking over Linganore’s program. The Hawks gave up just 40 points all season (3.7 a game), posting seven shutouts. The first-team defense didn’t give up a touchdown until the Class 2A state championship game, when the Hawks already held a 28-point lead en route to a a 49-8 win over Gwynn Park.
2003 Linganore Lancers
Record: 13-1, Class 3A state champion
Don’t hold that loss against Linganore — it came in Week 10 to playoff-bound Urbana, which was led by multi-faceted star Eric Lenz, and the Lancers avenged it by beating the Hawks in the regional championship game.
The Lancers were strong in every facet of the game under Conner, who still coaches the team. Their balanced offense could strike through the air with star quarterback Zach Hayes and Marshall-bound receiver Jon Moravec or gouge on the ground with running backs like Towson-bound Matt Castor. The Lancers averaged 37.6 points a game.
The defense was punishing, with players like Mike Lucian (Penn State) and Justin Grubby (Monmouth) piling up tackles and getting takeaways. The Lancers gave up 7.7 points a game and recorded shutouts in the state semifinals against Gwynn Park and the state championship game against Lackey.
2009 Linganore Lancers
Record: 14-0, Class 3A state champion
This was one of the most thoroughly dominant teams in Frederick County history, and its dominant rushing attack — just one of its many weapons — featured a pair of players destined to play big-time Division I football.
That would be offensive lineman Rob Havenstein, who went on to play at Wisconsin and is in his sixth season as right tackle for the Los Angeles Rams, and fullback Zach Zwinak, who enjoyed a productive career at Penn State.
Six players from this team received full rides in college, including Kyle Tucker (Monmouth), Anders Johnson (Bryant), Tyler Thompson (Monmouth) and Alex Eckard (Bucknell). Five others earned Division II scholarships.
Linganore’s defense wasn’t as stingy as others on this list, although it recorded two shutouts in the playoffs (including one against Damascus) and averaged a respectable 8.6 points against per game.
But all season long, Linganore was a scoring machine, averaging 40.9 points a game. Its rushing attack was monstrous, with Havenstein paving the way for backs like the powerful Zwinak and speedy Kevin Myers, who both ran for over 1,000 yards.
2011 Middletown Knights
Record: 13-1, Class 2A state champion
This was the first Middletown team to win a state title, kicking off a dynastic run that saw the Knights win three straight crowns and put together a 36-game win streak under coach Kevin Lynott.
While this team was the only one to lose a game during the program’s remarkable three-year run, a 28-6 defeat to Urbana, this might have been Middletown’s most well-rounded squad during that era.
The offense was capable of hurting opponents in the air or on the ground. The passing attack featured dual-threat quarterback Michael Pritts and Syracuse-bound receiver Ben Lewis. And the rushing attack revolved around junior running back Zach Welch (also a standout kicker), who was already piling up rushing yards and touchdown runs in a prolific career that would help him earn a scholarship to Monmouth.
Line play on both sides of the ball was impeccable, and the defensive line included a standout in sophomore Justin Falcinelli, who ended up earning All-ACC honors as a center for Clemson’s national championship team.
Outscoring opponents 539-153, the Knights were a force by the end of the season, beating Edmondson 48-8 in the 2A state semis and Frederick Douglass 43-6 in the final. Middletown’s most impressive wins might’ve been against intracounty rival Walkersville, which was arguably the second-best 2A team in Maryland that year. The Knights beat the Lions 32-25 in the regular season and 27-21 in the playoffs.
2018 Oakdale Bears
Record: 13-0, Class 2A state champion
Recency isn’t the reason this team is listed as a candidate. The Bears seemingly had no weakness, and if they did, no opponent — no matter how mighty — was able to exploit it in any sort of way.
During the regular season, the Bears rolled to a 56-7 win over a Linganore team that nearly won the Class 3A state crown, falling 17-14 to Franklin in the title game. In the playoffs, the Bears snapped juggernaut Damascus’ state-record 53-game winning streak with a 24-7 win before later thumping Glenelg 35-7 in the state final. They outscored opponents 548-95 (42.2-7.3 per game).
Oakdale was led by cannon-armed, Kent State-bound quarterback Collin Schlee, one of the finest passers produced by Frederick County. Other Division I players included linebacker Maurio Goings (Delaware State) and running back-returner Simeon Sabvute (Lehigh University).
Those names just scratch the surface of a team that possessed speedy, hassling defenders, tough linemen on both sides of the ball, a bevy of targets for Schlee passes and even an ace kicker in Justin Ritter.