Swarmin’ Hornets avenge last loss and win second-straight 3A football title 14-12
ANNAPOLIS – There’s a saying that defense wins championships.
That was certainly evident Thursday night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium when Damascus captured the 3A state championship with a hard-fought 14-12 victory over Franklin.
Damascus senior defensive back Colby Starheim registered three interceptions and senior linebacker Sean Jenkins recorded a team-high ten tackles and had a key interception to help the Swarmin’ Hornets defend their crown from a year ago.
“We had a great defensive scheme from our defensive coach Bucky Clipper,” said Starheim. “He’s one of the best coaches in the state and he just puts us in the spots we need to be in.”
During the postseason, Damascus outscored the opposition 125-56, so the two-point margin of victory against Franklin was the Swarmin’ Hornets’ closest game of the year.
“The game was one of the ugliest games I’ve ever seen,” said Damascus Head Coach Eric Wallich. “It was a great defensive game. Sometimes there’s games like that and it really doesn’t matter if you win ugly as long as you win.”
The Damascus win marked the program’s ninth state championship and was also the second time in school history the Swarmin’ Hornets had captured back-to-back state titles; Damascus also won consecutive state championships in 1992 and 1993.
The win over Franklin helped Damascus avenge their state championship loss to the Indians in the 2014 title game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
“It just feels good knowing that we got the monkey off our back beating Franklin,” said Damascus senior running back and defensive back Markus Vinson, a sophomore on the team that lost to Franklin two years ago.
Damascus jumped out to a 14-0 lead after Vinson scored on a 15-yard run in the first quarter and junior quarterback John Allan Furgeson connected with tight end Matthew Betterelli on a 37-yard pass play in the second quarter.
However, Franklin stormed back with touchdowns from seniors Joshua Turner and Justin Spence.
Turner scored on a two-yard run with 10:12 remaining in the second quarter and Spence added a 25-yard run with 8:26 left in the third period.
However, Turner’s two-point conversion run came up short when Damascus junior defensive lineman J.C. Philbin tackled the Franklin quarterback to prevent him from scoring.
Franklin had some opportunities to score late in the fourth quarter but the Damascus defense rose to the occasion and denied the Indians a chance to go ahead.
Damascus thwarted a Franklin scoring opportunity in the waning moments when Starheim registered a goal line interception to help seal the win.
“Our offense wasn’t getting the push they needed,” said Starheim, “so our defense had to step up and that’s what we did.”