Dan Mullen, shown in earlier action on Nov. 4 against Westminster,… (Photo by Patrick Smith for…)
WALKERSVILLE - The South Carroll football team has become a fixture in the Class 2A West Region football playoffs.
The Cavaliers reached the playoffs six times in the last nine years, and are the first Carroll County team to make three straight postseason appearances since Francis Scott Key in 2004-06.
But a talented Walkersville team showed South Carroll the exit door in Friday's regional semifinal, jumping to a 21-0 first-quarter lead on the way to a dominant 35-0 win over the Cavaliers.
Coach Steve Luette's team, which had reached the Class 2A West final each of the last two years, finished with a 6-5 mark, while the host Lions improved to 10-1 and moved on to a matchup with Frederick County rival Middletown for the regional championship.
Middletown, the two-time defending Class 2A West titlist, beat Williamsport, 42-7, in the other regional semifinal.
South Carroll hadn't been shut out in its last 66 games, dating back to a 12-0 loss at Westminster in the 2006 season opener.
But the Lions completely dominated South Carroll on both sides of the ball. A stout Walkersville defense held the Cavaliers to just six first downs and 66 total yards, while the Lion offense rolled up 406 yards.
On offense, Walkersville utilized an effective running game, led by Forrest Parker's 94 yards on 16 carries. The passing combination of quarterback Brady Policelli and wide receiver Jacob Miller was very effective, hooking up for three touchdowns in the rout. Miller finished with 122 yards on five receptions.
"They were just the better team," said senior running back Dan Mullen, the Cavaliers' leading rusher with 50 yards on 12 carries. "They were bigger and faster than us."
It took the Lions just two offensive plays to score the only points they needed. In the game's first minute, Policelli found a wide-open Miller at the Cavalier 30-yard line and the senior receiver outran two Cavalier defenders to complete a 64-yard touchdown.
The Lions increased their lead to 14-0 with just over three minutes remaining in the first quarter, when tailback Avery Ezell went through a huge hole for a four-yard touchdown.
Following South Carroll's third straight three-and-out possession, Policelli and Miller combined for another touchdown in the final minute of the opening quarter. Policelli lofted a perfect throw to Miller in the right corner of the end zone for the 28-yard score that boosted Walkersville's lead to 21-0.
After a scoreless second quarter, the Lions increased their lead on another Policelli-to-Miller connection from one yard out that gave Walkersville a 28-0 advantage in the final seconds of the third quarter.
Walkersville closed the scoring on Parker's two-yard run with 10:42 remaining in the game.
Despite the shutout loss, the Cavaliers' head coach was upbeat about the progress that his players made since the beginning of preseason practice in August.
"I told the kids that we came a long way," said Luette, who has guided the Cavaliers to playoff appearances in his first three seasons at the helm. "I made sure that the juniors and sophomores thanked the seniors, and hope they learned something from their leadership. They worked hard to get here, and reached the goal that we set to return to the playoffs."
The Cavaliers lost their first three games to Linganore, Patuxent, and Middletown, traditional state powers that also reached this year's playoffs.
But a battle-hardened South Carroll won its first six county games before losing to Westminster in the regular-season finale.
"You've got to play some good teams in order to be ready for the playoffs," Luette said. "We lost the first three, but that experience set us up for a good run in the county."
Walkersville 35, South Carroll 0
Walkersville 21077 35
Walkersville - Jacob Miller 64 pass from Brady Policelli (Brady Policelli kick)
Walkersville - Avery Ezell 4 run (Brady Policelli kick)
Walkersville - Jacob Miller 28 pass from Brady Policelli (Brady Policelli kick)
Walkersville - Jacob Miller 1 pass from Brady Policelli (Brady Policelli kick)
Walkersville - Forrest Parker 2 run (Brady Policelli kick)
South Carroll - Dan Mullen 12-50, Dylan McDermott 1-2, Ryan Patrick 2-(-1), Alex Breno 5-(-15), Kyle MacIvor (4-(-16)
Walkersville - Forrest Parker 16-94, Avery Ezell 12-52, Jacob Miller 1-38, Jay Dennis 1-5, C.J. Walker 1-3, Brady Policelli 6-(-5)
South Carroll - Alex Breno 7-14-0 32 yards; Dan Mullen 1-2-0 14 yards; Kyle MacIvor 0-2-0
Walkersville - Brady Policelli 11-21-0 219 yards
South Carroll - Dan Mullen 4-10, Ian Maynes 3-15, Dylan McDermott 2-21
Walkersville - Jacob Miller 5-122, T.J. Gamble 4-67, Avery Ezell 2-30