Middletown Champs

Middletown’s Conner Meyer (8) and Reese Poffenbarger celebrate as the final seconds tick off the clock in their win over Potomac in the Class 2A state final Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. View and purchase sports photos at www.fnpinfocus.com.

ANNAPOLIS — Middletown sophomore Jalen Huskey envisioned the desired result three days earlier. His coach, Collin Delauter, will go back even further, saying he saw the makings of the special accomplishment way back in late September.

They cited some of the same quality traits: confidence, execution, togetherness.

So they strongly believed this Knights football team, albeit one that began the season 1-2 and entered Saturday’s Class 2A football state final against Potomac as a No. 6 seed, could accomplish what it did.

“I think it started on Wednesday,” Huskey said after the Knights defeated the Wolverines 34-15 to claim their first state title since 2013. “We had a really good practice, and we were all super confident going into the game.

“I think we had the game won before we even drove here.”

Middletown (12-2) played like a team with supreme confidence in the state title game, racing out to a 20-0 lead in the second quarter behind the right arm of quarterback Reese Poffenbarger, who excelled at buying time in the pocket and extending plays.

On the first of his three first-half touchdown passes, he scrambled to his right to avoid heavy pressure from Maurice Hicks before finding Huskey uncovered at the Potomac 15, resulting in a 65-yard touchdown pass. On his second, the Wolverines’ Anthony James hit him as he released the football, but the senior still lofted an accurate pass down the right sideline to Brian Walker for a 50-yard score.

Poffenbarger finished 19-of-26 for 318 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers, and Potomac (12-2) coach Ronnie Crump called him the best quarterback his team had faced all season.

“We weren’t accustomed to a team making plays like that,” Crump said, mostly referring to Poffenbarger, who has received offers from Virginia Military Institute and Frostburg State. “ [Poffenbarger], I give him a lot of credit.

“I don’t know who’s not recruiting him. They’re making a mistake.”

While the Knights may have built around the skills of Poffenbarger, Delauter didn’t have visions of winning a state title until Middletown beat Boonsboro 31-14 in Week 4. Back then, other components of the team improved in leaps and bounds.

A defense that experienced some struggles in the second and third week of the seasons against Urbana and Linganore started to turn stingy. That improvement showed against the Wolverines as Huskey and Cole Porter each picked off two passes from dynamic Potomac quarterback Dominique Anthony.

Lawson Halsey, Zach Brady and Martin became big factors on the defensive line, along with Colby Doreen, who shook off injury and returned midway through the season. In the linebacking corps, Conner Meyer and JD Nelson made significant plays in key moments.

Offensively, the Knights’ offensive line began to jell, giving junior running back Kadin Fisher a chance to be effective.

Fisher helped show just how far the Knights’ ground game had progressed in the second half of Saturday’s game, rushing for 92 of his 95 yards to help whittle down the clock.

“As soon as I got the ball, and I knew it was time to run the clock down, I just ran the rock and made sure I did my job and got it done,” Fisher said.

Delauter played for the Knights’ 2011 team, which started a string of three consecutive state titles. He saw some similarities between the 2011 team and this year’s squad, and they centered around strong team chemistry.

“Really, I’ve sensed that confidence with this team pretty much since Week 4,” Delauter said. “We started making some plays and playing Middletown football and playing really hard and playing together, and it’s just been a joy to be around.”

Now the Knights find themselves hoisting a championship plaque for the first time in six years, and they’ll likely never forget the feeling of winning a title.

Sporting a white cowboy hat, Poffenbarger said, “To be able to go out with a win like that for the rest of our lives, we’re going to remember it.”

Before he entered high school, Fisher was in the stands cheering for those Knight teams that went on state title runs. Experiencing a championship firsthand trumped watching those teams of the past from afar.

"When I finally got here, and I was able to go through the process, go through the tradition and just play football with my brothers, I was able to know the whole town had my back, my family had my back and the entire team had my back," Fisher said. "So winning states with them was the best feeling I felt."

(15) comments

DickD

Potomac's quarterback was highly rated. Still Middletown's defensive backs intercepted four, two by Huskey. Middletown has been better this year because of pass defense. Some of that credit goes to the line for pressuring the quarterback, the rest to some great defense backs. The interception Huskey made at the one yard line really killed them, .

mysameoldname

Middletown game was on channel 205 but TV listing showed movie Dusk to Dawn instead of High School Football. I was on phone with parents at half time and said to check channel 8, another fan said "No, 205" and they were able to catch the second half. It's a shame Middletown game got so messed up in the TV listings.

DickD

You could have watched it on NFHS Network.

DickD

Poffenberger was voted the most valuable player of the game. It truly was a great game for Middletown. The whole team was great. I will miss some of them next year, but that's life.

Potomac'so coach is right, some Division 1 colleges should be offering Reese a scholarship.

audreywells

Yup we have two others who play/played D1. Salisbury and starting Center Clemson.

DickD

And Florida State

DickD

I forgot about Ben Lewis at Syracuse.

gabrielshorn2013

Congratulations gentlemen!!! Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose!

DickD

Did you go? I watched on TV.

gabrielshorn2013

No, couldn't go. Saw Catoctin on Channel 8. Where was the Middletown game? We couldn't find it. We kept up with max prep

DickD

I watched the game on NFHS Network. You can watch any high school game in the country on it. Just go to NFHS Network and scroll down to MPSSAA for Maryland games, click on it and you can pull it up. It costs $10.59 a month for all the games you want to watch. I pulled it up on my computer and connected it to my TV with an HDMI cord. Very good clarity, no 30 degree weather, instant replays and it doesn't cost $10 to get in and $10 to park. One of the kids told me that they had streamed games on their smart phone. We went down to Carolina to see our daughter and drove back the Friday after Thanksgiving. The semifinal game was that night. I wasn't going to drive another 114 miles each way to watch the game. So, I looked on MaxPreps and saw the network, pulled it up and watch the Middletown - Elkton game on my laptop. You can also watch on a smart phone, but you better have unlimited usage or it will cost you and arm and a leg for the data usage. By the way, if you want cheap and good cell phone service and have Comcast as your internet provider you can get unlimited text and voice from them. Data service costs $12 a gigabyte up to 3 gambits and after that it is cheaper to use unlimited for $45 a month. They use Verizon for their cell phone service, best you can get.

If you had of let me know, you could have watched it here.

gabrielshorn2013

Thanks for the information Dick! Much appreciated! Next time I'll take you up on it. - Gabe

phydeaux994

Channel 8 cable TV had the Friday night game and the Catoctin game at 3:30 yesterday but not the Middletown game at 7:00. Bummer. The Catoctin game was fun to watch, especially since they were the underdogs. FC wins 2 of the 4 State Championships, not bad.

DickD

I don't see how they made Catoctin an underdog, they were very good. The Fort Hill blowout proved that.

The same for Middletown, they beat two undefeated teams and beat a team that beat the team, that beat the number one seed, undefeated Douglas.

Seedings are all based on number of games won and their class. .It never looks at strength of schedule.

neilyoungfan25

Middletown and Catoctin had very talented fabulous teams this year! A Huge Congrats to both. I watched Catoctin's game and it was truly amazing how right from the start, the Cougars played to win. Dunbar didn't score till about 2 minutes before halftime. By then, Catoctin already had 31 points on the board. Was a boring second half. Middletown played a great game too from what I read in the good ole FNP!

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