THURMONT — With the traditional postgame victory music — Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” — blaring over the stadium’s speakers, a plume of blue smoke trailed Carson Sickeri as he weaved his way through the screaming and cheering throng that spilled onto the field.

Sickeri, Catoctin High School’s sensational junior running back, grabbed a flag bearing the school’s color and logo following a 41-0 rout of perennial state power Fort Hill in Friday’s Class 1A state semifinal.

Then, with jubilant students and fans beginning to close in, he stopped and popped the top off of the flag stick, to ignite a smoke bomb.

Out came the blue smoke. Sickeri took off running, and a celebration not seen in these parts in about a decade was well underway.

“It’s insane. We have all dreamed of this since we were 8 years old, and it’s coming true,” said Sickeri, who dazzled once again to the tune of 235 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries, in addition to catching two swing passes and turning them into gains of 36 and 26 yards.

Last week, in a state quarterfinal against Fairmont Heights, he generated 281 yards and six touchdowns on the ground and now has well over 2,100 yards and 35 touchdowns for the season.

“He’s a freak of nature,” senior wide receiver Eli Frei said of Sickeri. “You think he is about to go down, and then I am like, ‘Oh crap. I better block again’ as he breaks back into the open.”

But this was a total team win that sent Catoctin (12-1) into its first state final since its championship season of 2009. The Cougars will face the winner of Saturday afternoon’s game between Dunbar (11-1) and Cambridge-South Dorchester at 3:30 p.m. next Saturday at Navy’s Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

The Cougars’ defense was once again outstanding, forcing five turnovers and even contributing to the scoring, as senior Jacob McIlvaine returned a fumble 28 yards for a touchdown early in the first quarter.

Fort Hill (11-2), the preeminent 1A program in the state over the last decade with five state titles, including last season’s, was shut out for the first time since the 2004 state semifinals, when it was a 2A school.

“I don’t think any team has watched more film on a team than our team this week,” Frei said. “We knew what they were doing. We were ready.”

Junior Bronson Snurr, who has become more of a playmaker for the Cougars as the season has progressed, found the end zone twice, first on a 1-yard run and then on a 21-yard pass from junior quarterback Ryan Orr.

Catoctin scored 14 points in the first quarter, 14 more in the second and nearly had the running clock activated less than three minutes into the first half, after Sickeri juked all the way across the field on a 64-yard touchdown run.

“This is the greatest feeling in the world. I have never been happier in my entire life,” Orr said after the game.

In January, the Cougars hung a big banner in their weight room bearing the score 55-6. It was a daily reminder of the beatdown they suffered at the hands of Fort Hill last November in the 1A West regional championship game.

But, then, as this season got underway, they took it down to keep the focus on the opponent they would face each week.

The banner was back up this week, though, as were other subtle reminders of the task at hand.

“The parallels between this team and our championship team in 2009 are eerily similar,” coach Doug Williams said. “In 2008, Dunbar thumped us in the state semifinals. Then, we beat Dunbar in the semifinals in 2009 on our way to the championship. Last year, Fort Hill thumped us. I mean, thumped us. And looked what happened tonight. We had some unfinished business to take care of.”

Catoctin surpassed the 40-point mark for the 12th time in 13 games. No team has held them under 31 all season.

“We came ready. We knew what we had to do and got it done,” said senior receiver Travis Fields, who set up the Cougars’ first touchdown with a 22-yard catch and also made a big hit on Fort Hill running back Colby Santmyire to close the first half and set the tone in the halftime locker room. “Greatest moment of our lives.”

Follow Greg Swatek on Twitter: @greg_swatek

(1) comment

DickD

Great win, congratulations.

What happened to the story on Linganore, they won 27 25.

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