Three teams reach playoff crossroads

SIDELINES

October 01, 1993|By PAT O'MALLEY

We're at the halfway mark of the high school football season, but at least three county teams entertaining playoff hopes are in a must-do situation.

Week No. 5 is not too early for big games for Class 4A teams Glen Burnie and Arundel and Class 3A Broadneck, all 2-2 teams. A third defeat for any of those teams and they can kiss the playoffs goodbye.

To add to their dilemma, all three have to win on the road tonight.

Glen Burnie has the unenviable task of having to win at 11th-ranked Annapolis (3-1) at 7:30 p.m. while Arundel visits sixth-ranked North County (4-0), and Broadneck travels to the Eastern Shore to face Queen Anne's (0-4).

Annapolis coach Roy Brown is not taking the Gophers lightly. Brown is well aware that Glen Burnie is much improved from last season when the team went 4-6, including a 28-6 loss to the Panthers.

"They're a solid football team, the best we've played since Largo [season-opening loss by 26-20 in OT]," said Brown, whose Panthers make their debut on TCI Cable, Channel 19, in Annapolis tonight.

"They played North County tough in the second half last week. Their backs are good and their defense is solid."

North County stayed unbeaten by scoring all its points in the first half of a 28-14 victory over the Gophers. The Gophers outscored the Knights 14-0 in the second half, and in their 13-6 loss to Class 3A DuVal (1-3) of Prince George's, Glen Burnie was down 7-0 at the half.

So the Panthers will have to get off to a good start, and Brown hopes the Annapolis team is the one that showed up last week to humble winless Old Mill, 35-7, and not the team that posted a lackluster 6-0 win over Mount St. Joseph (0-4) the week before.

"We've done well in creating turnovers and capitalizing on them. We have to continue being consistent," said Brown.

Glen Burnie doesn't figure to score much on the Panthers, who have outscored their opponents, 95-33. The Gophers, who have outpointed their opposition, 66-61, have to stop Kenny Boyd (seven touchdowns and 470 yards rushing).

Second-year Arundel coach Bill Zucco started this season hoping last fall's finish would carry over into this year. The Wildcats took three of their last four to finish 3-7.

Arundel has not had a winning season since 1985 (9-2) under Buddy Hepfer, the man Zucco succeeded, and was 5-5 in 1988 and 1990.

Certainly an upset of the powerful Knights, who blew them out, 39-6, last year, would enhance the 'Cats' chances of having a winning season.

Against North County quarterback Justin Rice, whose 15 touchdown passes are more than halfway to the state record of 28, it's likely Arundel will run into a stop sign.

In its move down to Class 3A, Broadneck dropped its natural rivalries in Annapolis and Severna Park in hopes of playing a more conducive playoff-qualifying schedule.

Unfortunately for the Bruins, who are in the 3A East Region with top-ranked City and No. 2 Poly (both 4-0), it hasn't worked out and they can't afford to lose another game. Queen Anne's (0-4) is a supposed-to-win game for the Bruins, and sometimes those can be the toughest to win on the road.

Class 4A contenders Severna Park (3-1) and Meade (2-2) are in a similar position, facing teams they are supposed to handle. Coming off a 35-28 overtime loss to Meade, 13th-ranked Severna Park visits Chesapeake (2-2), a team the Falcons buried, 40-13, last fall.

Chesapeake quarterback Matt Michalowicz is dangerous, but the big and quick Falcons defensive line, led by blue-chip senior Ronnie Green, might not give him time to maneuver.

Meade is on the way back to regaining its spot in the county's "Big Four" with Annapolis, North County and Severna Park, and coach Jerry Hartman needs to keep his Mustangs from being overconfident tonight. Meade plays host to Old Mill (0-4), which could knock off one of the big teams this season.

In other county action at 7 tonight, charging Northeast (2-2) will be looking to upset 15th-ranked St. Paul's (3-1) of Baltimore County in Pasadena, and South River (1-3) will be out to win its second straight as host to J. M. Bennett (0-3) from the Eastern Shore.

A winless team figures to put one in the "W" column at Brooklyn Park Bronco Field tonight as Archbishop Spalding plays host to Mount St. Joseph. Both Catholic schools are 0-4, and the game matches freshman quarterbacks and former youth football teammates, Lucas Phillips of St. Joe and Joe Petrocelli of the Cavaliers.

Petrocelli was one of Phillips' favorite targets when the two played for the Glen Burnie Rebels.

Class 2A Southern puts its 4-0 record on the line at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow at 3A Frederick Douglass (3-1) in Prince George's. The Baltimore Sun's ninth-ranked Bulldogs are No. 14 in this week's AP State Poll, and Douglass is No. 16.

Severn School (2-2), back on track with a 42-0 victory over Spalding with Jim Doyle returning last week as coach, faces a difficult challenge at 1 p.m. tomorrow at fifth-ranked McDonogh (3-0) of Baltimore County.

St. Mary's (3-1) has the week off.

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