A couple of reasons for their undefeated season so far is the grit and perseverance the McLean Highlanders have displayed, according to the high-school football team’s head coach.
McLean (3-0, 2-0) again demonstrated those traits March 12 by defeating the host Langley Saxons, 16-7, in a Liberty District game between neighborhood rivals. With the contest tied at 7 in the second quarter, the Highlanders scored the final nine points on field goals of 32, 25 and 27 yards by Ivan Maric, and shut out the Saxons (1-2, 1-1) the rest of the way.
McLean is 3-0 for the first time since 2010 when the team won its first eight games under then head coach Jim Patrick. The win at Langley was McLean’s first since 1996.
“We have really relied on our defense and they were flying around again, making plays all over and were creating havoc for Langley’s quarterback,” current McLean coach John Scholla said. “It was a gritty, grind-it-out win, and our kicker came through strong for us when we didn’t finish scoring drives.”
McLean had seven sacks, three by Alec Butler and one each by Jihao Liu, Nicky Varela, Charlie Poole and Philippe Kabasele, who had eight tackles total. Butler and Ethan Dray each had five tackles and Andrew Pudleiner four.
Runningback Ryan Jessar had a big game for McLean on each side of the ball. He made 10 tackles on defense and ran for 132 yards on 27 carries on offense.
McLean quarterback Bijan Soltani was 6 of 20 passing for 102 yards, including a 41-yard first-quarter scoring pass to Bryce Molnar (two catches, 79 yards). Calvin Thinley and Mateo Short each had two catches.
“We didn’t pass it as well, so we needed a game like that from Jessar, and he ran hard and well,” Scholla said.
McLean had 247 total yards and Langley 183, of which just 25 were rushing.
For Langley, quarterback Brendan Mansinne was 21 of 28 passing for 158 yards. Michael Hoeymans had 11 catches for 97 yards, Luke Byrne four for 18, Gabriel Goldstein three for 28 and Colin Affleck two for 15. Byrne ran for 32 yards, including a four-yard second-period touchdown run.
Langley’s Trey Laws had 60 yards in kickoff returns.
On defense for Langley, Jacob Steele made six tackles and Henry Swartz and Michael Gasparis had sacks.