St. Mary’s Ryken wins WCAC Metro Division Football Championship

 

Published on November 20, 2023 by the Washington Post

In the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Metro Division championship game, the offensive line of victorious St. Mary’s Ryken included two freshmen — Brennan Springer and Arnell Wooten Jr. (“Big Woo” to teammates) — and a starting left tackle, senior Matthew Morris, who had never played football before this year.

And Friday night, in a 28-14 win over Archbishop Carroll, they were representative of the Knights’ resilient rise back to the top after a blip in the semifinals last year.

“Going into this game, we knew it would be up to us, the big boys, to move the ball effectively,” senior offensive lineman Christian Levy said. “We don’t do all the rah-rah. It’s strictly business up front. … I’m really proud of those three guys. They played lights out.”

WCAC Football Championship 2023 Group

All season, SMR's offensive line set itself to a standard, hoping the rest of the roster would follow suit. The offensive line coach preached that “O-line sets the pace” and “ethical violence wins games.” Head coach Gary Wynn admitted he was hard on the line at the beginning of the year, especially during the five-game losing streak that started the season, but the players responded better than even he asked for. Seven consecutive wins followed the early-season slump.

“I’m just so proud of them. The expectation level was so high, and for so many of them, their experience didn’t match what the expectation was. They [still] came through for us,” Wynn said. “They are kind of like the embodiment of the program. They get that they are the foundation.”

That young core lifted running back Kadan Smith throughout the season, helping the senior win the division’s Offensive Player of the Year award.

“This won’t be the last time you see us in the championship,” Smith said. “I’m sure next year we’ll probably win it, too.”

— Spencer Nusbaum

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