WESTMINSTER — Junior quarterback Christian Etchison stepped on to his home turf Friday night knowing his team needed to get off to a quick start. Coming off a tough 52-28 loss to ranked Linganore a week earlier, there was no time to sulk about last week’s result. Westminster opened up county play against Manchester Valley on Friday night, an opponent they hadn’t seen since 2014.
No familiarity, no problem. Etchison took complete command of the game, totaling four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) in the first half of Friday night’s game to lead the Owls (3-1, 1-0 county) to a 50-7 rout over Manchester Valley (2-2, 0-1).
“We came out quick from the gate.” Etchison said. “All the guys were focused and all their minds were right and it just came out clicking and that’s all we can ask for.”
Quick out the gate they were. Just three plays into Manchester Valleys’ opening drive, Owls senior linebacker Max Sommerville scooped and scored a 18-yard touchdown to give Westminster the early 7-0 lead. The touchdown set tone early as Etchison and the Owls offense went to work.
Etchison threw three touchdowns on three consecutive drives in the first half to build the lead up to 29-0. Two of those touchdowns came to senior wide receiver Zane Lewis, who like the rest of the Owls receivers, is gaining more chemistry each week with their new quarterback. Etchison was a transfer from McDonough High School this year, but looks right at home in Carroll County.
“As soon as [Etchison] transferred I decided to get with him and just get our timing down and all the receivers do that” Lewis said. “Especially when a quarterback transfers you want to get timing down because that’s the only way we become successful.”
The connection between Etchison and his receivers was something even Owls head coach Matt Study took notice to saying, “We’ve been waiting for things to get clicking for a little and they were all able to get on pace.”
For Manchester Valley, things were never in reach. Junior quarterback Dallas Engel came in at the beginning of the second quarter to replace starter Cooper Hastings, but the Mavericks offense could not suffice for many points. The only scoring came off a six-yard touchdown pass by Hastings set up by an interception. The Mavericks could not respond to Westminster’s constant offensive attack and faced a running clock down 43-7 at halftime. By then, the backups were in and the game was all about over.
With the win, the Owls improve to 3-1 and 1-0 in county play. They face Century next week, who are coming off a down-to-the-wire 35-34 win over Francis Scott Key. And while getting to the playoffs and winning a state title is always the big picture for any team, Study knows you can only get there winning your week-to-week battles.
“We are going to take things week by week and make sure we face that faceless opponent and take care of what we need to take care of”