THE TEAMS: No. 1 Linganore vs. No. 2 Huntingtown
GAME DETAILS: Saturday, December 5 at 7 p.m., M&T Bank Stadium
HOW THEY GOT HERE:
Linganore defeated Damascus 33-20 in the region semifinals; defeated
Quince Orchard 19-0 in the region final; defeated Hereford 41-9 in the
Huntingtown defeated Lackey 23-0 in the region semifinals; defeated
Westlake 46-0 in the region final; defeated River Hill 10-7 in the state
RECORD IN FINALS:
Huntingtown: First appearance
Passing Game Advantage: Linganore
Huntingtown has a 1,000-yard passer in Justin Bittner and Linganore has
two capable quarterbacks, including two-year starter Nick Marth. The
difference in the passing game comes at receiver. While each team has a
clear No. 1 receiver it is the Lancers who have the Division I receiver
that is a difference maker. Linganore's Ryan Dixon (33 catches, 816
yards, five touchdowns) is the first option for Marth and Ricky Conner and
for good reason. In the Quince Orchard game, the James Madison
commitment made two catches for 50 yards. He can make the tough catches.
Chaz Hall (19 catches, 364 yards, four touchdowns) is the No. 1 choice
for Huntingtown, but the Hurricanes will spread the ball around when they do
Running Game Advantage: Linganore
It is tough to call this in Linganore's corner with Greg Goodwin leading
the state in rushing and touchdowns for Huntingtown. The senior has
2,559 yards and 35 touchdowns this season and is the first, second and
probably third option for head coach Jerry Franks' offense. However,
Linganore has two 1,000-yard running backs, including Penn State
commitment Zach Zwinak (1,908 yards, 21 touchdowns). The senior is
considered the nation's best fullback prospect by some publications and
has rushed for 746 yards and seven touchdowns in the playoffs. Kevin
Myers has 1,434 yards and 21 touchdowns this season and actually has
more carries than Zwinak.
Defense Advantage: Huntingtown
The Hurricane's get the advantage here for a couple reasons. One, they have allowed only seven points in the playoffs. And two, they held River Hill's pair of 1,000-yard rushers to less than 100 yards combined in last week's state semifinals. Andrew Bose leads Huntingtown with 152 tackles, followed by Conor Stueckler (111 tackles) and DeShawn Torney (100 tackles). Chad Lupino leads the team with eight sacks while Andre Carter and Conor O'Brien have three interceptions this season.
Special Teams Advantage: Linganore
The return game for these teams appear equal. Both are capable and should put the offenses into good position, but do not appear to have a game-changer. The Lancers' advantage comes from the right leg of Alex Eckard. The senior holds the state record for career extra points and field goals. This season, Eckard has seven field goals with a long of 32 yards. Huntingtown's Mark Smith is coming off a game winning 35-yard field goal that defeated River Hill, but only has three field goals for the season. Smith does have a better percentage than Eckard, making three of his four attempts.
Coaching Advantage: Linganore
Linganore head coach Rick Conner is no stranger to state championship
games. Conner has one state title and has reached the championship game two previous times as Linganore's head coach. Before taking over the Lancers' program, he was the defensive coordinator for Urbana's run of four straight state titles. Huntingtown's Jerry Franks has one state title to his credit, but Conner's experience in state title games is hard to ignore. There is not much he has not seen.
Every coach we asked picks Linganore in this game so there is little reason for us to go against popular opinion. Before last week's game, Hereford head coach Steve Turnbaugh admitted this Linganore team is special, a statement reiterated by both River Hill and Huntingtown head coaches before their game last week. The Lancers have the core group of players that made it to the Class 4A state championship game last season back and Zwinak is focused on finishing what the team started last year. The Lancers have a big, strong offensive line and have defeated eight playoff teams this season.