Damascus senior Caleb Baisden thinks of himself as a safety who can help out at running back. Though Coach Eric Wallich believes he could start in the backfield for almost any team in Montgomery County, Baisden said he’s happy to let fellow seniors Trevor Patton and John Hanley handle the bulk of the carries.
To close out Friday’s 23-20 win over Sherwood, the fifteenth-ranked Swarmin’ Hornets needed Baisden on both sides of the ball. Baisden had barely finished celebrating his late interception when Wallich directed him to the offensive huddle. Running out of the short-yardage formation the team calls “Animal,” the 6-foot-1, 185-pound bruiser carried the ball on seven of the final eight plays in the Montgomery nonleague victory in Sandy Spring.
“I trust him,” Wallich said. “He’s kinda been that workhorse around here. He’s done it for two years, and he did it on J.V. before that, so he’s earned it.”
Damascus (5-0) had barely played its starters in the fourth quarter of its first four wins of the season, winning by an average of more than 33 points per game. On Friday, the Hornets needed a pair of defensive stands down the stretch to make sure its second-quarter scoring barrage was enough to escape with a victory.
Sherwood (3-2) scored touchdowns on its first two second-half possessions to cut its deficit to a field goal. When Damascus — which led 23-6 at half — missed a field goal, the home team had a chance to take the lead with 7 minutes 37 seconds left.
The Warriors went three-and-out on that possession, and after another Damascus punt, Baisden stopped the ensuing drive on the first play, tumbling to the ground as he snared a tipped pass that proved to be Sherwood’s final offensive play.
“It was a tough spot,” said Baisden, who also recovered a first-half fumble. “You just feel all the momentum on the other side, and you know you have to do something to make a big play.”
Damascus scored all of its points in the second quarter, seizing control with three touchdowns in a 5:10 span late in the first half.
Senior Zach Bradshaw — a Virginia commit — set up two of the scores with big plays, first making a diving highlight-reel grab on a 44-yard pass and then returning a punt 73 yards. He had six catches for 78 yards.
Junior quarterback Chase Williams finished 17 of 25 for 182 yards with a touchdown and no turnovers. He added a one-yard rushing score on a quarterback sneak with 1:47 left in the first half that put his team up by 17 points.
“It’s definitely good because they got tested, but that’s a dangerous way to play,” Wallich said, “When you’re up like that at halftime, you’ve got to find a way not to let good teams come back.”
Afterward, Sherwood Coach Mike Bonavia lamented missed opportunities but said senior quarterback Jordan Larsen played “probably the best I’ve ever seen from him.” Larsen had 125 passing yards and scored on a 19-yard scramble late in the third quarter.
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