Poly's city pride on line tonight

November 27, 1993|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

Poly football coach Augie Waibel considers senior linebacker Zack Jeffers among his best and brightest players.

Jeffers not only is the Engineers' top tackler, but also an A student who scored 1,090 on the Scholastic Assessment Test.

Listening to Jeffers, it doesn't take a genius to know the Engineers shoulder a huge burden as they head into tonight's 3A state championship game at the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium.

Poly, ranked No. 25 nationally by USA Today, is trying to become Baltimore City's first state champ as the Engineers face six-time state champ Seneca Valley (10-2) of Montgomery County.

"As the No. 1 team for so many years, Poly's been like a symbol of football success. And we know that [Seneca Valley will] be hungry to beat us," said Jeffers. "Making it to the finals is an accomplishment in itself, but now we're the only team left to represent Baltimore."

Poly, ranked No. 2 in The Associated Press state poll, has played rival City before big crowds at Memorial Stadium, but Seneca Valley is a veteran of 11 state-playoff appearances since 1976, having gone 17-4, including just two first-round losses. Ranked No. 6 in the Washington area, Seneca Valley has 10 county crowns and eight regional titles.

Topping it off, the Screaming Eagles are 6-0 in state title games and going for a state-record seventh crown.

"They've been there more times than most teams, so they know a lot about preparing to win it," said Poly coach Augie Waibel, who is 233-50-3 in 31 seasons.

"They have to be one of the best teams we'll face, but our kids are very excited to be in the state title game. We're going to be the home team, so our kids get to dress in the Maryland locker room, which will be a thrill."

But not enough of one, says Jeffers, to settle for second-best.

"We've had so many great teams here that if we lose, I'll feel like we've disrespected those teams," Jeffers said. "And if they win, you know they'll say they could have beaten all of those past teams. It's our chance to make history, and we want it for the city."

Poly's offense averages 32.5 points behind big-play back Greg Kyler, who leads the Baltimore area with 27 touchdowns on 1,231 rushing yards and 22 catches for 432 yards. Kyler, who runs a 4.3-second 40-yard --, also has an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Not to be overlooked in Poly's power-I attack are running back Louie Randall (809 yards, 10 touchdowns), tight end Arthur Peace (25 receptions, 501 yards, six touchdowns) and quarterback Charles English (943 passing yards, 13 touchdowns).

Seneca Valley, ranked No. 12 in the state poll, has outscored its opponents, 276-100, behind linebacker Aaron Moxley (130 tackles, three interceptions), defensive end Billy Corcoran (90 tackles, 10 sacks) and safety Chris Butler (four interceptions).

And the Screaming Eagles have a huge threat in a close game, with Louie Forbrich having kicked field goals of 32 and 48 yards.

Last year's crown was the first for Seneca Valley sixth-year coach Terry Changuris, who was an assistant to Al Thomas (now at Damascus) on the other five winning teams.

"But this is a new game, with a new significance," Changuris said. "We're excited about the possibility of setting a state record."

The Screaming Eagles have won four straight, including victories over Walt Whitman, 40-7, Watkins Mill, 21-14, Thomas Johnson, 31-24 in overtime, and Frederick Douglass of Prince George's County, 24-0.

Thomas Johnson was the state's top-ranked team when it lost to Seneca Valley, and Frederick Douglass has wins over No. 4 City and No. 7 Southern of Anne Arundel. Changuris said Whitman and Douglass had styles similar to Poly, which swapped tapes of its 21-20 victory over City with Seneca Valley for its win over Whitman.

A Seneca Valley victory would go according to Douglass history: In three previous playoff games, Douglass had lost to eventual champs McDonough (Charles County), Linganore and the Screaming Eagles last year.

Poly's defense, coached by Bucky Kimmett, yields fewer than five points a game, but his scouts got their only glimpse of Seneca Valley's wing-T offense against Douglass.

In that game, Kinte Sipes (1,018 yards, 11 touchdowns), a non-starter until the fifth game of the year, scored three touchdowns on 168 yards. Sipes' running mate is Chucky Carter (354 yards, four touchdowns). Quarterback Ryan Miyamoto (15 touchdowns on 1,121 yards) rushed for 93 yards, but was only 1-for-4 passing for 8 yards.

However, Miyamoto is a capable passer, targeting receivers Mike Kelley (23 receptions, 329 yards, three touchdowns), Chris Butler (19, 287, four) and Moses Cruz (10, 133, two).

Poly's defensive backs Robert Maddox (six interceptions) and Malik James (five) and defensive end Rashaad Kitchen (14 sacks) could get tested more than ever.

"He [Miyamoto] doesn't drop very far, and he's got a quick release. Our pass rush of Kitchen [14 sacks], Brian Scott and Sebastian Smothers will watch for quick counts and unbalanced formations," Waibel said.

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