Middletown High School football coach Kevin Lynott nearly always focuses on the present, so after his team won the 2A state championship Saturday, he tried to deflect a question about the high number of players who could return next season.
“You work so hard to get to this point, it’s hard to talk about next year,” Lynott said. “So, I don’t really want to talk too much about next year.”
But as Lynott continued, his response took — for him — a strange turn.
“We’ll start working on that probably on the way home on the bus, talking about some things,” Lynott said.
Lynott was joking — though only partially. As much as he focuses on the present, he’s also a supreme competitor and he’s competing in one of the state’s toughest football regions.
“I know Frederick County has been working since November,” Lynott said. “We’ve been playing football and that’s a benefit. So, we’ve got to start working in the next week or so, we have to catch up to that 2013 guys. I know Walkersville, Linganore and all those — they’re lifting right now.”
In some ways, that makes Lynott’s job simpler. He doesn’t spend much time talking to his team, which has won back-to-back state championships and reached three straight state finals, about playing so deep into the playoffs.”
“Our main goal on the season is to be the best in Frederick County,” Lynott said. “Because we feel, if we can be the best in Frederick County, we have a shot at being the best in the state, because we believe Frederick County is one of the best brands of football in the whole entire state.”
The numbers back him up.
Frederick County has won five state titles in the past four years, and perhaps just as impressively, four separate Frederick County teams have won them — Middletown (2A in 2012 and 2011), Urbana (4A in 2010), Linganore (3A in 2009) and Catoctin (1A in 2009). To find the other most recent county (Prince George’s) that can match having four different teams win state titles, you have to go back twice as many years.
Even beyond Middletown’s state championships, two other Frederick County teams turned heads this season. Urbana and Brunswick, both No. 4 seeds, won their regions. Urbana defeated Damascus and Seneca Valley to reach the 3A state semifinal round and Brunswick beat Boonsboro and Fort Hill to reach the 1A state semifinal.
“It’s not a surprise when they pull upsets like that,” Lynott said.
That’s because the Frederick County coaches trust in each other. Every spring they work together at a camp organized by Frederick High coach Vince Ahearn. Each coach teaches a position, so he works with players across many teams. Then, in the fall, the players take those lessons and try to use them to beat their former mentors.
There certainly is potential for Frederick County’s teams to leave each other exhausted by the time playoffs come, but Urbana coach Ryan Hines doesn’t believe that happens.
“The kids in Frederick County are tough kids,” Hines said. “It’s a blue-collar county compared to, I think, some of the others. Beating up on each other makes us tougher, not wearing them down.”
But Frederick County’s rivalries unavoidably do limit the teams involved.
Take Walkersville. Hines said he “had no doubt” Middletown would win a state title once it reached the state semifinals. But to get there, Middletown has beaten Walkersville each of the past two years. Walkersville is 0-4 against Middletown in that span and 20-0 against everyone else.
“If Walkersville didn’t have to play Middletown, they might have been on that stage,” Hines said.
That is why coaches such as Lynott think local before they talk about state titles.
“The thing is getting out Frederick County,” Lynott said. “That’s the tough part.”