St. Mary's Ryken football wins third straight WCAC title
By TED BLACK
At halftime of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Metro Division Championship game at the Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex between St. Mary's Ryken High School and Archbishop Carroll High, the public address announcer acknowledged that the Lions had garnered three postseason awards.
Carroll (11-1), which enjoyed a perfect run through the WCAC regular season slate, had swept the offensive player of the year, defensive player of the year and coach of the year, and the Lions had defeated St. Mary's Ryken 33-26 in a previous meeting. But on the afternoon of Sunday, Nov. 21, it was the Knights who departed with the most important piece of hardware for a third straight season.
St. Mary's Ryken (6-6) jumped to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter then padded its advantage in the pivotal third quarter en route to a 24-12 victory. The Knights benefited from a pair of turnovers and turned both into touchdowns and senior Andy Burke made his presence known with his punting and place kicking skills, accounting for the Knights' final three points.
"Before the game we talked about limiting our mistakes and being able to take advantage of whatever opportunities we were presented," said St. Mary's Ryken coach Aaron Brady, whose team won the WCAC Metro titles in 2018 and 2019, but there was no postseason following last spring's abbreviated season. "Carroll is a big, physical team and they love to run the football. Once we got ahead, we were able to make them a little more one-dimensional."
St. Mary's Ryken scored a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter, the second on a screen pass from quarterback Brenton Toles to wide receiver Jordan Scarbrough, but the Lions trimmed the Knights' lead to 14-6 before the intermission. Ryken had the chance to add to its advantage before the break, but Burke pushed a 38-yard field goal attempt wide left.
But Burke atoned for that missed field goal in the pivotal third quarter. After the Lions fumbled the second half kickoff, the Knights needed only six plays to go 45 yards, although most of it came when Toles connected with Scarbrough on a 25-yard touchdown strike that extended the Knights' lead to 21-6 with 9:23 left in the third quarter.
Carroll marched into St. Mary's Ryken territory on its subsequent possession, but the Lions turned the ball over on downs. The Knights recorded one first down on the next drive and crossed midfield before failing to convert, then Burke pinned Carroll deep with a punt that went out of bounds at the Lions' two-yard line.
Carroll failed to gain and a single yard and a pair of penalties actually pinned them inside the one. Following a short punt, St. Mary's Ryken collected three first downs then Burke nailed a 29-yard field goal with 13 seconds left in the third that gave the Knights a 24-6 lead heading into the final frame.
"That third quarter was huge for us," Brady said. "We capitalized on the turnover on the kickoff then later Andy did a great job pinning them deep and that really helped us set up that field goal. We felt pretty good going into the fourth quarter. I thought the guys were focused the whole game."
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