It's shaping up as Oxon Hill's physical tradition against North County's innovative finesse.
And when the two football teams take the field tomorrow in their Class 4A state quarterfinal, North County coach Chuck Markiewicz may have an edge with his run-and-shoot.
The fourth-seeded Clippers' coach, Cliff Haskins, "had never heard of" North County until the fifth-seeded Knights (8-2) were announced as his playoff opponent. Haskins also said the Clippers "never faced a true run-and-shoot team."
In contrast, Markiewicz got a glimpse of the opposition during the Clippers' 7-6 victory over Prince George's County rival High Point last Saturday.
Oxon Hill's wing-T is an offense Markiewicz learned while playing under the late Coach Jerry Mears at Meade High. He later assisted Mears at Meade and Buddy Hepfer at Arundel High with the wing-T.
The multiple defense of Oxon Hill, which is ranked No. 6 in the Washington area, has allowed more than 10 points in just three games. The Clippers' 5-foot-10, 210-pound nose guard/linebacker Marques Haden has 20 sacks. Defensive back Clayton Thompson (6-1, 175) has four interceptions after grabbing 16 last year. Chris Tisdale (5-7, 155) has five interceptions.
Oxon Hill's only losses came against Bowie, 23-20, and Friendly, 6-0, so Haskins is far from conceding victory.
"People haven't thrown on us much this year because of what our defense did last year," said Haskins, whose Clippers (8-2) were state semifinalists a year ago and intercepted 38 passes.
The Clippers' defensive line averages 225 pounds;the Knights' averages 195.
"We're a very fast, very physical team, and we stop the run and try to make teams throw," said Haskins.
Haskins won't have to make the Knights throw: They love to.
"If weget the ball to the right person, they won't beat us," said Markiewicz. "They've never seen anything like they're going to see Saturday. We've got guys going in motion and criss-crossing and stuff.
"The leading receiver in their county is No. 4 (Jason Buchanan). He's got 19 catches (for 284 yards). That puts him fifth on our team. Nobody'sthrowing the ball out there."
Haskins admits as much.
"High Point ran a little run-and-shoot last year, and we've scrimmaged a few teams that do it. But I've heard (North County) throws the ball about20 times in a game," he said. "If it's a true run-and-shoot, then itcould make the game interesting."
The Clippers' offense is gearedtoward the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Buchanan (130 carries, 1,030 yards). Tom Thornton (5-10, 190) has 368 rushing yards, and quarterback John Landreth has completed 52 percent of his passes for 483 yards and 12 touchdowns. Markiewicz watched Buchanan break an 89-yard touchdown run against High Point.
"They have speed, but we've seen speed, like(Meade's) Kenny Walker and (Severna Park's) John Jennings," said Markiewicz. "Oxon Hill doesn't have blazing speed and I don't think it'sany better than anything we've seen. And I think we've got more speed."
North County's junior quarterback Eric Howard has completed 91of 200 passes for 1,257 yards and nine touchdowns.
Howard's favorite target has been junior Damon Martin, who has 708 yards and six touchdowns on 52 catches -- one catch away from the county mark set by Brooklyn Park's Tom Butz in 1988.
In two years, Martin has 93 catches for 1,114 yards and nine touchdowns.
Senior Troy Ross has 26 catches, 393 yards and four touchdowns, and seniors Randy Swain and Anthony Walker have 130 and 194 yards receiving, respectively.
In its standard form, the run-and-shoot features four wide receivers, but Walker also plays running back and was a county meet runner-up in the100-meter -- last spring. Using his 4.3-second 40-yard -- speed, Walker has rushed 786 yards on 123 carries, including 288 yards on 35 carries in the last three games.
"We're throwing, catching and running the ball better," Markiewicz said.
"A lot of people think that we pass all the time, so now we have the pass and the run. We feel you can't stop both. We know you can't."
Defensively, Walker (6-3, 190) has 141 tackles, including 88 solos as a linebacker. Linebacker Jeff Fowler has 83 tackles, with 50 solos and two sacks. Lineman KevinHarris (5-7, 210) has 72 tackles with 38 solos and four sacks, and cornerback Mike Quarles has 40 solos, two sacks, a fumble recovery andan interception.
"They're probably going to have man-to-man coverage. We've got the scheme to beat that," said Markiewicz.
"It's only about five plays, but when you're standing on the other side of the ball and you've got kids running all over the place, that looks like a lot of offense."