- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Football teams look to make a run in the playoffs
By AJ MASON
With the regular season now in the books, the remaining teams advancing to play in the postseason are now 0-0.
Tonight and Saturday, teams around the state will compete in the regional playoff four-team tournament among the four different classifications with hopes of hoisting the state plaque after four more wins at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
Four Southern Maryland Athletic Conference teams Huntingtown, McDonough, Patuxent and Westlake will all be battling in semifinal matchups.
Huntingtown (9-1 overall), the defending three-time Class 3A South Region champion, is making its sixth straight playoff appearance and will boast the 3A South’s top seed.
At 7 tonight, the Hurricanes will take on fourth-seeded Friendly of Prince George’s County (6-4) in a semifinal matchup.
Huntingtown head coach Brendan Gilligan, who was an assistant under former head coach Jerry Franks for several seasons, mentioned that experience will be vital for this year’s playoffs.
“We have a lot of guys, who have been here before and have been deep in the playoffs,” Galligan said. “The key is taking it one game at a time, we want to live another day to continue to play football and advance.”
Friendly has put up 40 or more points four times this season.
“They are very athletic and fast,” Galligan said. “They can light up the scoreboard and they run an unconventional offense and have a lot of formations. They have three or four players that are like clones and they really spread the ball out. Defensively, they held Douglass to just eight points [last week], so they’ve played some tough teams well. We just want to continue to play tough defense and contain them.”
Through 10 games, the Hurricanes are averaging 33.6 points a game and have rushed for 275.3 yards a contest.
Leading the rushing attack will be junior Arnez Bowens, who has rushed for 886 yards and scored eight touchdowns this season. Seniors Colton Rowe and Carl Riffe and junior Bryson Curtis have rushed for over 400 yards.
Under center will be senior quarterback Zach Piazza, who has completed 64 of 110 passes for 982 yards and 15 touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball, senior linebacker Paul Woodburn, who has a team-high 81 solo tackles, will look to lead the defense that has allowed only 14 points a game this season.
“You never know who the hero is in the playoffs,” Galligan said. “We’ve been the No. 1 seed and the No. 4 seed the last couple of years, so we are just going to play football. The boys are ready.”
In the other 3A South matchup, second-seeded Westlake (7-3) will host third-seed Potomac of Prince George’s County (8-2) at 7 tonight in a battle of the Wolverines. Though Potomac has the better record between the two teams, Westlake’s point average in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association standings was a tenth of a point better than Potomac.
The winner will face the Huntingtown-Friendly winner in next week’s regional final. If Westlake and Huntingtown meet, it would be the rematch of the Hurricanes’ lone loss this season, a 14-7 Westlake victory on Oct. 19.
Westlake will be without the services of junior quarterback Antwaine Carter, who suffered a fracture in his cervical vertebrae injury in Saturday’s 34-19 regular season finale loss at North Point, snapping their six-game win streak. Alexander Roddy and Marquel Lee are likely to be switching at quarterback for tonight’s game.
“We need to reassert ourselves defensively and fix our miscues from last week,” Westlake head coach Marlon Curtis said. “Potomac will be a physical team and they like to spread you out. They run crisp routes and look to catch you off-guard defensively.”
With an explosive rushing attack that features an array of running backs, the defense will continue to be Westlake’s backbone, which is led by senior linebacker Lee, who has 98 tackles this season. Senior defensive ends Roderick Caine (20.5 sacks) and Dashaun Cummings (10.5 sacks) will also look to put pressure on Potomac’s offense.
The Westlake defense has given up 69 points, less than seven points a game on average, all season thus far to lead SMAC.
McDonough (9-1), which won a share of the SMAC title with Huntingtown after a 35-14 win over visiting Calvert on Saturday, earned the top seed in the 2A South bracket and will host fourth-seeded Gwynn Park of Prince George’s County (9-1) at 7 tonight.
Gwynn Park has give up only 51 points all season, just over five points a game on average.
The Rams will be led by senior quarterback Devone Boone, who has passed for 1,324 yards and 20 touchdowns, 16 going to his favorite target, senior James Harrell. Harrell, a Howard University commit, has caught 41 balls for 901 yards.
Behind senior offensive lineman Na’Ty Rodgers, the Rams have also been able to move the ball on the ground, and will be headed by junior Christopher Monroe, who has rushed for 760 yards and seven touchdowns. Boone can run as well as throw with 460 rushing yards so far this season.
“Gwynn Park has a good defense, they’ve posted six shutouts,” McDonough head coach Luke Ethington said. “They have a number of athletes, but when you’re a competitive team like we are you look to see what weaknesses there are to take advantage of.”
The Rams lone loss came at the hands of Patuxent this season, who will travel to face second-seeded Frederick Douglass (9-1) of Prince George’s County at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Patuxent (8-2), which got the third seed after a 31-28 loss to host Leonardtown last Friday, will look beat a Douglass team that defeated it 26-20 last season in the region semifinals.
Douglass have only allowed on 52 points this season, just over five points a game on average.
“It’s a playoff rivalry, it seems like we see them every year,” Patuxent head coach Steve Crounse said. “We will have to find a way to attack and minimize our mistakes from last week. Douglass is the class of P.G. when it comes to fundamental football. They have a ton of Division I athletes all over the field and have allowed six points in seven games.”
Patuxent, which has averaged 41.3 points a game this season so far and rushes for over 340 yards a contest, will be led by senior quarterback Trey Lee and junior running back Rafiq Douglas.
Lee has rushed for 1,281 yards and 19 touchdowns, while Douglas has ran for 1,168 yards and 14 touchdowns thus far.