Football Coaches: Dwayne is looking forward to speaking with you during the recruiting season and one day camps coming up. Finally showing up on the boards as a potential future running back….working on his game, SAT, ACT and bringing his “A” game next season. See you on the field..Let’s Go Lancers!
QB – Kyle Jennings*, Jake Larson *, Justin Meyers*
RB – Dwayne Randall, Joe Riddle*, Tyler Thompson, Ryan Hall*, Tommy Kollick, Juan Retana*
WR – Bryan Eck, Niko Crawford, Matt Aldridge, Steven Bennett
OL – Kyle Warholic, Kevin Thurman, Cullen Huber, Matt Daw, Keith Kluetz*, Chad Halsey*
DT — Kyle Warholic, Cody Warner, Keith Kluetz*, Kevin Thurman
LB – Tommy Kollick, Tyler Thompson*, Joe Riddle*, Will Connelly
S – Juan Retana* , Dwayne Randall
CB – Bryan Eck*, Markee Patterson*
K – Kyle Dearstein*
* = Newcomer from jayvee
Attached article without digital images of students.
May 20, 2010 Dave Lomonico MDHigh.com Publisher wrote an feature article about Linganore High School and quoted a few words from Coach Connor.
Talk about it in the e Message Boards
IJAMSVILLE — A musical montage of techno remixes, from Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” to Haddaway’s “What is Love?” to Queen’s “We Will Rock You”, blared from the loudspeakers in the Linganore High gymnasium. They probably should have blasted “We are the Champions” given the school’s perfect 14-0 record last year, but that might have been just a bit too presumptuous for Linganore’s tastes.
This is a school that is constantly forging ahead, never looking back, regardless of past success. They’ve won five state titles, had two undefeated seasons, been ranked among the top 40 schools nationally and produced numerous Division I football players. They are undoubtedly the most successful public school in Maryland this decade.
Yet they speak of none of it unless prompted by some outsider. The Lancers’ foundation is built through humility, molded through loyalty, etched through pride and carved through sweat.
“There’s a tremendous tradition here, but you don’t really allow yourself to think about it because you never want to be the class that “You want to keep going, keep pushing and carry on the legacy.”
So basically “We are the Champions” had a better chance of being heard at a Jay-Z concert than at Linganore High.
Ninth-year head coach Rick Conner is the Lancers’ enthusiastic conductor. And like any good lead musician, he’ll do anything to inspire his band.
From his quirky warm-up music to his gung-ho attitude to his pet peeves to his stimulating workouts, he reeks of energy. He openly searches for slights, even as they become extremely rare with each passing state title. Currently, he’s taken to posting newspaper clippings of all the Frederick County kids who have Division I scholarship offers. The reason? Motivation. None of them are from Linganore.
Conner is big on motivation. That’s one of the main reasons he learned to operate those “crazy switchboard buttons” in the sound room so his team could work out to Bon Jovi.
“I used to be a drill-and-kill guy; I could make this so hard that it’s almost counterproductive,” said Conner, who owns a mind-boggling 82-16 record at Linganore. “But a few years back I worked with a guy named Terry Connolly at some basketball camps and I saw how much fun it was and how much the kids improved and learned. So I said, ‘I need to create that fun factor.’
“So I keep the workouts fresh and interesting. It keeps my energy up, and when my energy is up, the guys come up here and they’re ready to bust their tails for you,” he continued. “The players feel great, I feel great and in the end it’s all worth it.”
Thus spoke conductor Conner, who probably could be a preacher, too. After all, when you win, your word is gospel.
But on this day even Conner’s resonating words and Richard Simmons-like enthusiasm couldn’t suppress the dark clouds and rain. So instead of lighting up the field, the Lancers lit up the gym. As the players performed, the coach strolled around, offering insight and advice.
“He’s always there motivating us, encouraging us and getting on guys,” said senior lineman Kevin Thurman. “From the weakest kids to the strongest kids, he’s always getting the best out of us.”
Conner set up six unique workouts stations, each designed to enhance speed, agility and strength.
“Learned this one from when I was down at Texas,” he mentions, nodding at the ladder drills where players were shuffling their feet faster than whirring bicycle spokes.
“Learned this one when I went up to Rutgers,” he says, pointing to two-foot high rows of blocks that players were jumping over until their feet grew numb.
“Learned this on when I was traveling around to college campuses with my son,” he notes, looking toward the barbell-medicine-ball-sit-up combination drill that had players breathing harder than elephants after a mile run.
Sense a reoccurring theme here?
“I’m always learning something new,” Conner said. “And I still have a lot more to learn.”
Always humble, always going hard, always pushing forward and never looking back. The Linganore creed in action.
After the aerobic drills, the Lancer horde moved to their state-of-the-art weight room, which would probably make some upper-echelon colleges jealous. The 40 NASA-like machines, the shiny metallic dumbbells and the rows and rows of workout bikes could motivate a ball of lard to pump out 30 repetitions at 185 pounds.
This place, Conner implores, is where the Linganore culture of success is bred. No wonder they routinely out-muscle opponents every season.
“We’re in here twice a day, every day,” said Warholic, who boasts a 300-plus pound bench and a squat nearing 500 pounds. “We’re just excited and motivated to be in here every day.”
There’s that word again – motivation. But even with preacher-conductor Conner at the helm, how in the heck can a team be motivated after completing a dream season? A perfect season? There’s nowhere to go but down.
Simply put, these Lancers have guts.
Exactly one week after the Lancers defeated Huntingtown, 31-14, for the class 3A state championship, the players began asking Conner when the weight room would open again. Everyone, even the 19 graduating seniors who are playing college football next year, wanted back in.
“The kids just don’t take success for granted,” Conner said. “They’re not going to let last season dictate how they play and how they train this year. Every day we’re hungry and trying to get better.”
At Linganore, winning is a trickle-down process. The school itself provides the tradition, the pride and the tangible facilities. The coaches take all of that and impart it on the seniors. In turn, the seniors sop it up like sponges in the barrier reef. After they have the methods mastered, the upperclassmen take on an apprentice (read: juniors, sophomores and freshman) and show them how it’s done. Finally, as the youngsters learn, they share their newfound wisdom with the incoming eight graders.
“I learned a lot from the older guys – how to train, the fight needed during the season — and I’m personally trying to take after Robby [Havenstein] by motivating everyone in the weight room and showing the younger guys how [to win],” Warholic said. “It’s my job to be a leader now.”
He’d better be a leader. Linganore lost about 20 starters from 2009 – among them lineman Havenstein (Wisconsin) and fullback Zach Zwinak (Penn State) — more than any other team in Maryland. Some pundits are predicting a drop-off, a la Sherwood after their championship season in 2008. But that’s just the kind of slight Conner will latch onto and post right up next to the newspaper clippings. Just more motivation for the Linganore monster.
“Every year people are saying, ‘Oh, Linganore’s going to be down this year, they don’t have anyone back,’” Conner said. “OK, we lost 30 seniors. So what? We had juniors who were watching those guys, saw how it was done and know what it takes to be successful.
“Right now, these guys can’t wait for their chance to be starters,” he continued. “It’s their turn now. It’s their shining moment. To them, last year is history.”
Minister Conner certainly talks a good game. But when you lose over 80 percent of an offense that put up over 45 points per game and a defense that allowed less than seven, it’s going to hurt. Even Conner admits there are question marks, namely at quarterback and the skill positions. On top of that, every team in Frederick County and beyond will be geared up to unseat the king. Add to that the pressure of repeating, and Linganore is bound to lose a few games.
“There are some big shoes to fill, the expectations are high and we’re the team to beat,” Thurman said. “But that’s every year. We’ll see what happens in August. We’ll be there in the end.”
Conner didn’t disagree. He’s encouraged by his veteran linemen and how quickly his jayvee stars (they went 8-1 last year) are developing. Of course, he wasn’t about to make any bold proclamations.
“I don’t know if we’ll be able to win games 44-7 this year, but I’m fine with 7-6 as long as we’re on top,” he said.
So, is that sort of like saying 14-0 is possible again?
“Oh man, 14-0?” Conner said, chuckling. “That’s crazy.”
With that, preacher-conductor Conner ended his spiel and returned to the weight room, a symphony of clanging dumbbells calling him. But before he left, Conner paused and turned around.
Then he winked.
“I’m not sure you need to go 14-0 to win a state championship.”
Someone cue “We are the Champions”: Lancer football beats on in 2010.