John Buchheister, the last area coach to win a state football title, will attempt to reach the finals again when his top-ranked Randallstown team (11-0) takes on host Oxon Hill (11-0) in a Class 4A semifinal this afternoon at 1 p.m.
No. 3 Wilde Lake (11-0) plays host to Prince George's County's Douglass (10-1) in a Class 3A semifinal today, also at 1 p.m.
Buchheister, who won a state title in 1987 at Milford Mill, again will rely on his outstanding running back, Larry Washington, against an Oxon Hill defense that has shut out seven opponents and allowed 29 points all season.
Washington has run for 1,862 yards and 29 touchdowns in 11 games. He had his best game of the season in last week's 33-21 quarterfinal win over Seneca Valley, running for 313 yards and five touchdowns.
Buchheister, whose 1983 Milford Mill team lost in a state final, is direct when he talks about Washington's worth to the Rams.
"If they stop Larry, we lose. It's that simple," he said.
Randallstown will be without safety Ken Wesley for the second straight game, and linebacker Larry Sydnor is likely to miss the game, also.
Wesley quit the team for the second time this season after the final regular-season game because of a dispute with Buchheister over playing time. Sydnor sprained his ankle in last week's game.
Buchheister said Wesley's second departure has not disrupted the team, but it has caused a depth problem.
"It hurts us because he was our second- or third-best running back and he was a safety on defense. He was the guy that gave us that little push," Buchheister said. "We'll dress 32 players, and I'm sure they [Oxon Hill] will dress about 50."
Buchheister said Oxon Hill, the Washington area's No. 3 team, also has a size advantage over the Rams.
"They are pretty big. I don't think overall they are as fast as we are," Buchheister said. "They don't seem to want to throw the ball a whole lot. They get most of their stuff running the ball down people's throat. They're probably the best team we've played. If we play well, we will beat them. And if Larry has a good day, we have a good day."