Conor Cassidy is used to the needling about his speed, or his lack of it. The jabs don't bother Cassidy, who just keeps running through, over and, yes, past defenders while leading the Bears toward another Interstate Athletic Conference title.
Cassidy rushed for 96 of his game-high 131 yards in the first half and scored on a four-yard touchdown run as Landon defeated visiting Bullis, 17-0, yesterday in Bethesda. With their fifth consecutive victory, the Bears (7-1, 3-0) clinched at least a share of the IAC title; they can win it outright for the second season in a row by beating St. Albans on Nov. 12.
"Our goal this season is to repeat the league title," Cassidy said. "We're on our way to doing it now."
Fueling the Bears' success has been Cassidy, who before this season was probably best known for his lacrosse skills -- a faceoff specialist who is moving to defense, he has accepted a scholarship offer to play that sport for Johns Hopkins. But Cassidy also is getting things done on the football field, scoring his 13th touchdown yesterday.
While Landon Coach Rob Bordley likes to joke about it, the veteran coach said Cassidy's speed is deceptive. And though the Bears' offense seemed to have little variety -- mostly running the ball up the middle with fullback Alex Bisnow or to the outside with Cassidy -- Landon was able to move the ball consistently.
After its first two drives sputtered in Bullis territory, Landon faced third and goal from the 18 late in the first half because of a holding penalty. Although it was a passing situation, Landon went to Cassidy, who rushed right for 14 yards and then scored on a four-yard run after getting the ball from running back Neal Brown on a double handoff, giving the Bears a 7-0 lead.
"I always tease him, but he's faster than he looks," Bordley said. "People don't catch him and he breaks tackles."
Said Cassidy: "He's just giving me a hard time. He loves to do that. He loves giving everyone a hard time."
With 16 carries by halftime, Cassidy rushed only five times in the second half before hyperextending his right elbow and going to the bench. But even without their standout, the Bears were able to chew up much of the clock. Except for a few long pass plays, Bullis (5-3, 1-2) was unable to do much offensively and lost its third consecutive game as Landon moved closer to another championship.
"It may not be the same as it was a year ago, without Georgetown Prep," Bordley said, referring to the Little Hoyas' run of four consecutive titles that ended last season, before they were kicked out of the IAC beginning this season. "But the league is balanced."