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The Highlander

The Student News Site of McLean High School

The Highlander

The Student News Site of McLean High School

The Highlander

Highlanders crush Saxons 12-7 in season-end game

McLean prevails over strong defense from both sides, secures 8-2 record for Highlanders
Highlanders+celebrate+their+triumphant+win+against+the+Saxons+12-7
Kavi Shah
Highlanders celebrate their triumphant win against the Saxons 12-7

The McLean High School varsity football team faced off against the Langley Saxons on Friday night in a grueling battle on Saxon turf to end the season. While the Highlanders initially started off the season unexpectedly strong with a 6-0 record, two consecutive losses to Herndon and Washington & Liberty left fans wondering if the program had reverted to their previous years of failure.
Fortunately, McLean pulled through, beating Langley 12-7 and erasing any shred of doubt that fans held in regards to the strength of the program.
McLean students showed up en masse to show their fierce support for the team. During team introductions, both student sections spewed harsh hisses and boos for the opposing side, and during the Saxon introduction McLean students turned around, refusing to recognize their bitter rivals. After a series of fireworks, and with smoke shrouding the field, the highly-anticipated action commenced.
The McLean team provided the bite upon the audacious fans’ bark, starting off the game strong. As a result of an onside squib kick from junior kicker Nathan Bender on the opening kickoff, the Highlanders were able to snatch the ball from Langley offense, leaving a bold and domineering opening statement. After two strong passing first downs to generate fierce momentum, they forced their way down the field and broke through the Langley defense with a four-yard rushing touchdown from senior Kaelan Ferris to secure a 6-0 lead.
The Saxons were quick to counter, rolling down the field and taking first down after first down. Yet, the Highlanders were able to put a swift end to Langley’s stride with a crucial stop at 4th down and 9.
While the Highlanders forced the turnover, they received the ball deep into their own territory and found themselves at 3rd and 19, eventually returning the ball to Langley.
Langley found trouble in the passing game, so they shifted to the run. Play after play they ran a double option play, which is where the quarterback has the option to either run the football, or pitch it back to the player behind him. Utilizing their strong offensive line, they drove down the field with that same play, eventually finding themselves at 4th down and goal. They elected to kick an easy field goal, but were unable to convert, leaving the Highlanders leading 6-0.
When the Saxons reclaimed the ball, they resorted to their bread and butter, running the double option play. Held at a 4th and 9 from within their 25 yard line, the Saxons were forced to decide whether to kick the field goal or risk a turnover. With the abysmal failure of an exceptionally easy missed field goal panging sharply in their minds, they opted for the latter, and secured the first down with an outside pitch play.
Shortly after, the Langley quarterback Cole Samburg ran in the ball to tie the game. Unfortunately, Langley kicked it straight, earning themselves the extra point to take the lead.
After, both teams demonstrated their exceptional defense, refusing to allow any more points for the rest of the half, which McLean drew to an end with a kneel.
McLean re-opened the game with a crowd-stunning 50-yard rush from Ferris to bring McLean to the 15 yard line. Unfortunately, McLean wasn’t able to break the Langley defense and was forced to kick a field goal. Bender hit the sweet spot and was able to put the Highlanders up 9-7 with triple zeros drawing nearer.
As the game drew on, both teams had their defense of full display. Junior Carter Brown made a critical sack which created a long fourth down for Langley, to which Langley returned the favor in the fourth quarter. Additionally, the Highlander defense forced two fumbles during the fourth quarter that ensured that Langley’s score wouldn’t budge.
“The whole defense stood out in this game and really helped us win,” junior wide receiver Ben Irish said. “We just played at our own speed and didn’t let them rush us.”
However, the same couldn’t be said for Langley. After two strong runs from Ferris and several penalties on the Saxon defense, Bender secured an extra 3 points for the Highlanders to give them a five point lead.
Sensing a win for the Highlanders, McLean fans crowded the fences, ready to storm the Saxon field. McLean didn’t disappoint, running the ball 3 times and gaining the much needed first down to seal the game. After kneeling the ball, the clock struck zero, and students rushed the field, yelling and screaming in excitement.
Players credit the student section’s unwavering energy with helping the team push through and secure the win.
“The crowd played a huge factor in the victory,” Irish said. “When you are on the field and hear the crowd, it really motivates you.”
In addition to the vigor of the crowd, coaches heavily emphasized the importance of teamwork in the period leading up to the game, ultimately ensuring the success of not just one particular game but an entire season.
“All week before the game the coaches were always reminding us to just do our job,” senior safety Kevin Kabasele said. “It’s not always about being a hero and trying to make the flashy play, but more about trusting the guys around you and the coaching.”

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