McLean's offensive line proves crucial in 14-7 victory over South Lakes

By James Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 2, 2010; 12:57 AM

McLean quarterback Chase Mills has only one way to describe the strong and sizeable offensive lineman stacked in front of him on every play.

"I feel safe taking snaps behind these guys every down," Mills said.

That line helped Mills and running backs Jimmy Ludwick and Ryan McColgan turn in key performances to topple South Lakes, 14-7, Friday night in a battle of unbeaten teams in McLean.

The Highlanders knew they were bigger up front and challenged the Seahawks (4-1) to stop them.

Behind a line anchored by sophomore guard Burke Bartow (6-foot-3, 300 pounds) and junior tight end Scott Lafoon (6-foot-1, 220 pounds), McLean (5-0) got the push it needed to jump ahead and stay there.

To build a 14-0 first-half lead, McLean only needed drives of 30 and 42 yards to score after South Lakes couldn't move the ball on offense.

Ludwick, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound senior who entered Friday's game as the third-leading rusher in the AAA Northern Region, finished with 59 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. McColgan and Mills combined for 65 yards and provided the needed fresh legs to carry the ball behind their big line.

"They have the attitude of a lion up front," Mills said. "You know you're gonna get behind those guys and they're not going to stop until we get the first down."

An unexpected contender this season, McLean now sits in first place in the Liberty District.

"It's a great feeling," McLean Coach Jim Patrick said. "These guys were 0-10 two years ago. And we had a lot of sophomore starters on that team that are playing now, so you know, it means a lot."

McLean's last appearance in a Northern Region final came in 1996, when it lost to Madison in the Division 5 game. Since then, the Highlanders have been a shadow of those teams, compiling a 27-63 record since 2001.

But behind leaders like Mills, the team's fate has changed. Mills, who also plays cornerback, picked off South Lakes sophomore quarterback Rashaan Jones three times and helped get the ball back into his offense's hands.

The Seahawks came out charging in the third quarter, driving 44 yards down the field and seemingly about to score. But from the one-yard line, they couldn't punch the ball in against a stout McLean defense.

"If you're a high school team at the varsity level, and you get two chances to run it in from the one, you can't, you should lose," South Lakes Coach Andy Hill said. "That's a tough pill to swallow but that's the truth."

The Seahawks did score on the next drive on a 21-yard pass from Jones to speedy receiver Darius Smith.

But after another Jones's interception, the Highlanders did what they do best: run the ball and eat the clock. Running up the middle, they killed the final four minutes of the game to seal the win.

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