A 3-0 loss to Lackey on a rain-soaked home field is the only imperfection on reigning 2A state champion Patuxent’s resume this season, and the Panthers were determined to keep it that way when the Chargers returned to Lusby Friday for a Maryland 2A South region semifinal game.
“I didn’t have to remind them,” Patuxent Coach Steve Crounse said.
“They were motivated mainly because of the playoff game, but of course the underlying thing was retribution for the one blemish on your record, and they stepped up big.”
Crounse and the Patuxent coaching staff “challenged the offensive line to be more physical,” and they were pleased with the result — a 28-14 victory that propelled the Panthers back to the region title game.
The big men up front enabled the Panthers (10-1) to control the tempo of the game as quarterback Reese Crounse (20 carries, 118 yards, two touchdowns) and running backs Tazman Davis (15 carries, 82 yards, one touchdown) and Reyquon Holland (5 carries, 44 yards, one touchdown) ate up yardage on the ground.
Perhaps no offensive line has been more consistently physical in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference than Lackey’s gargantuan group, which graduates only tackle James Tunstall this spring. Friday was no different.
Lackey’s Malik Burns capped his record-breaking season by rushing behind it for 195 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, and after switching positions to fill the team’s needs numerous times during his three years on varsity, it was only fitting that he finished his high school career from a new vantage point: directly behind center.
“We were too one dimensional. We put him at quarterback Friday night and he rushes for 200 and throws for 75,” Chargers Coach John Lush said. “He’s just a kid that’s so coachable. He’ll do anything you ask him to do.”
It isn’t just the coaches at Lackey (8-3) that have come to realize what a rare combination of size and speed the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Burns, who finished the season with the second-most rushing yards (2,290) in school history, possesses.
“We may not see another kid like that for five years, 10 years,” Crounse said.
Patuxent will host crosstown rival and SMAC Chesapeake division foe Calvert (10-1) Friday in the 2A South region final. While the winner will claim ultimate bragging rights, the region already has something to be proud of.
“It’s a testament to our kids down here in the Southern end of Calvert County,” Crounse said. “I think it’s really the first time in the history of the county that we’ve had two teams face off in a regional championship game.”
LB/RB Levi Brickner, Sr., Calvert
In addition to playing on almost every unit for the Cavaliers, Brickner rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries while throwing for a 46-yard touchdown on a halfback pass to lead Calvert past Gwynn Park, 42-28.
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