Sporting excellence adds up for two Owls eyeing future in engineering

  • Westminster High senior Dan Johnson, who also plays lacrosse in the spring, was the only member of the Owls' football team that played both offense and defense for the two-time county champs this fall.
Westminster High senior Dan Johnson, who also plays lacrosse… (Staff photo by Jen Rynda )
January 12, 2013|By Steve Jones

The Westminster High School football team put up some gaudy offensive numbers in 2012.

During a 12-1 season, the Owls won a second consecutive county championship, became the third Carroll County team in five years to record an undefeated regular season, then rolled past Montgomery County powers Blake and Sherwood to earn the Class 4A North Region title.

And two of the team's unsung heroes can definitely do the math. Drew Titus and Dan Johnson both plan to major in engineering.

With Titus taking care of his "blind side", senior quarterback Deryk Kern passed for a county-record 3,890 yards, set a state mark with 63 scoring passes and twice equaled the state single-game mark with seven passing touchdowns.

And while the Owls were putting up nearly 45 points per game, the defense allowed just 13.2 points an outing. Playing a hybrid safety-linebacker position, Johnson led the Owls with six sacks and also picked off three interceptions.

The duo did not grab the headlines in a storybook season that came within a missed field goal on the game's final play of a berth in the state championship game at M&T Bank Stadium.

But Westminster would not have made it to the state semifinals without them. Their school, and the city of Westminster, also benefited greatly from their academic and community-related contributions.

Their efforts made them the Carroll Eagle's Fall Sports Student-Athletes.

Protection and perseverance

Drew Titus never played a down of football before he entered Westminster High in the fall of 2009.

Three years later, he was a cornerstone of an offensive unit that set many school, county, and state passing and total offense records.

The 6-foot-1, 235-pound left tackle protected the state's most prolific quarterback as senior receiver Garrett Bean broke the county's single-season receiving yardage record with 1,055 yards while fellow receivers Darius Clifton and Bradley Metcalf became third and fourth all-time in that category.

In a season filled with memorable moments, Titus looks back on the significance of Westminster's thrilling 36-33 week four win over two-time defending West Virginia state champion Martinsburg.

"They were a team that hadn't lost for two years, and it was a true team win," Titus said. "We proved that we could play through adversity. We don't care what our opponent's record is, or what state they're from. That game proved to us that if you have the right attitude and practice hard all week, you will come out with a win. We'd always believed that we could have a good season, but there wasn't much concrete proof of it until we showed what we could do in that game."

The Owls received a lot of headlines, after early-season victories over Martinsburg and Class 3A state semifinalist Urbana. But as an offensive lineman, Titus isn't used to getting much attention.

However, he is quick to point out that the praise that he received from his teammates was very satisfying.

"The way that Deryk and the receivers treated the linemen was better than any other team out there," he said. "It takes a special person to play offensive line on a team that's doing well, because you have to be humble enough to not get offended when you open the newspaper every Saturday and there's a picture of someone else and your name is not mentioned. But you also have to be proud of the work, and recognize that if you mess up that will be when things go wrong and games are lost."

Brad Wilson, the Owls' ninth-year head coach who also coordinates the offensive unit, said Titus' keen football sense had a lot to do with the Owls' success.

"With Drew, it's like having another offensive coach on the field," Wilson said. "We throw the ball a lot, and he's got the most important job of all: protecting the quarterback's back."

While Kern and Bean took their place at the top of the record books, Titus ranks first in the senior class at Westminster with 4.0 unweighted and 4.49 weighted grade point averages.

He has remained a straight A student throughout high school while taking nine Advanced Placement and eight Honors courses.

"The biggest thing is time management," said the son of Richard and Marlene Titus. "When you have a rare day off, the temptation is to do something fun. You can't work 100 percent of the time, but it's all about priorities. School comes first, along with family and sports. Everything else comes after those three things."

Titus was recently accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is ranked sixth among the universities in America by U.S. News and World Report.

He plans to major in mechanical or electrical engineering and is also applying to Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, Carnegie Mellon, Virginia, Lehigh and the U.S. Naval Academy.

"If there is one word to describe Drew, it is driven," said Wilson. "What you see academically from him is what we saw on the field. His determination, commitment, self-motivation, and pride were always there.

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