McLean football loses 43-6 to Langley in rivalry matchup

Tensions run high as Langley’s offense overpowers McLean

While all McLean football games under the Friday night lights carry a certain tension and excitement to them, nothing stacks up to the matchup with the crosstown Langley Saxons. It’s hard to quantify the relationship between the two rivals—one can look at the obscenities spray-painted on McLean’s campus before the 2021 contest, or the infamous brawl which took place at McDonalds following a basketball game between the two schools. Simply put, the game just means more.

“A win against Langley [makes it] a winning season no matter [our] record,” senior captain Charlie Samburg said.

Samburg was among the 24 seniors honored during Senior Night, where each player was thanked for their contributions to the program over their career.

“It’s a little bit sad because it’s the first huge Senior Night of the season,” senior Kristin Sargent said. “There’s so many [people] graduating and it’s bittersweet because they have worked so hard this year and it’s time to recognize them.”

As the festivities for Senior Night wrapped up, the overcrowded student section reared its head to cheer on their team. As with every other aspect of the rivalry game, the crowd was on another level, screaming their heads off as the Highlanders entered the field. Despite McLean administration’s wishes, the students lit up for a raucous rendition of the national anthem, overtaking the last verse to let the Saxons know that they were in the “home of the Highlanders.”

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The Highlanders came out with a bang, shocking Langley with an onside kick which senior Max Geduldig was able to fall on top of, putting McLean on offense to start the game. With quarterback Ethan Ball out due to injury, the signal calling responsibilities once again fell to Samburg. The Highlanders kept it on the ground early, but to no avail, and a third-down sack forced McLean to punt.

Langley was coming off of a 3-game win streak amidst their 6-3 season, a vast improvement from their poor campaign in the prior season. The Saxons demonstrated their prowess early, with senior quarterback Brendan Mansinne connecting on several short passes en route to a touchdown pass, which they followed up with a 2-point conversion to make the score 8-0.

McLean couldn’t find any traction on their second drive, and senior Jack Needham’s punt pinned the Saxons within their own territory. Langley’s second drive was reminiscent of their first, as they used the passing game to gain yardage in small increments, scoring to make it 16-0 early in the second quarter.

After another unsuccessful drive from the McLean offense, the Saxons took over and quickly made it past midfield with the help of a roughing the passer penalty against McLean. After the play, Mansinne came up looking hobbled, grabbing his side in discomfort. After a personal foul moved the Saxons back into their own territory, Langley was forced to punt.

McLean’s next drive featured multiple big plays, as senior lineman Andrew Mock took a trick play into Saxon territory amidst roars of approval from the sideline. On the next play, Samburg put his shoulder down to run over a Langley defender, moving the chains for a first down. The excitement was short-lived, as Samburg’s next pass was intercepted near the endzone.

They definitely put their heart out on that field and did the best they could.”

— John Drury, junior lineman

A late hit on Mansinne early in the drive left the quarterback writhing in pain, resulting in flags on the field and explicit words being shared between the two sides. A debacle ensued, as the referees deliberated over what penalties should be called and where the ball should be spotted. When the game finally resumed, the Saxons were forced into a punting situation. They attempted a fake punt, but senior Quinn Sullivan was there to shut it down and force a turnover.

McLean came out with a renewed vigor after the turnover. Junior Vaughn McCullough pulled in an unbelievable one-handed catch that wasn’t even intended for him to bring the ball near the goal line. McLean was operating on a tight time limit with no timeouts to spare and halftime rapidly approaching, but the Highlanders punched it in with a touchdown pass from Samburg to Sullivan to make the score 16-6, where it would stay as the game went into halftime.

McLean quickly found themselves inside Langley’s 40-yard line after some strong runs by junior Jahi Jemison, but Samburg was marked just short of a first down on a fourth down conversion attempt, giving the ball to Langley. Although Mansinne quickly threw a pass which was intercepted by senior Mateo Short, the Saxons wound up with the ball inside McLean territory after a tipped pass from Samburg was also intercepted.

More unsportsmanlike conduct ensued when Langley retook possession, as a tackle which resulted in a head injury on the running back was deemed excessive by the referees. The running back who was hit had been part of a play action play—therefore, he could legally be hit by McLean’s defenders. The penalty was given because the officials believed it was excessive and unsportsmanlike conduct, resulting in a disqualification. Mansinne scored on the following play, making the score 23-6, but the game had transcended simply being a football game—the hatred between the two sides was manifesting in consistent scuffles and late hits, and penalty flags for personal fouls flew at a disordinate rate.

Another tipped pass from Samburg was intercepted, and the Saxons quickly turned it into another touchdown. As the jeers increased and the time winded into the fourth quarter, McLean once again fell short of converting on fourth down. The Saxons added to their score, taking a 37-6 lead.

Langley substituted Mansinne out when the Saxons regained possession following a fake punt, and the new quarterback was freshman Cole Samburg, the younger brother of McLean quarterback Charlie Samburg.

“I’m most excited to play my little brother,” Charlie said prior to the game.

The Highlanders experienced momentary elation when Samburg was able to find senior Jayden Vargas for a touchdown. The play was called back due to a block in the back penalty against McLean, and with that the game ended in a dull 43-6 loss for the Highlanders, who finished the season with a record of 1-9. Despite the loss, McLean was happy that their seniors got a strong sendoff.

“It’s very emotional right now because it’s their last time playing football [for McLean],” junior lineman John Drury said. “They definitely put their heart out on that field and did the best they could.”