City-Poly has tough act to follow

November 12, 1994|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

Randall Beaman had never been involved in anything as intense as last year's Poly-City football game.

The senior running back recalls scoring on a 4-yard run that gave Poly a 15-0 lead late in the first half, only to watch quarterback Teron Matthews bring City to within 15-14 early in the third quarter.

"Even though we knew we were up by two touchdowns, we felt like the game was scoreless," said Beaman, a stocky 5 feet 7, 170 pounds.

"Both teams were just playing so aggressively, you just knew it wasn't going to be over until the final whistle."

It took Greg Kyler's diving 24-yard touchdown catch inches from the back of the end zone to give Poly a 21-20 victory.

Today at 1 p.m., one of the country's oldest high school football rivalries resumes at Morgan State's Hughes Stadium. But it won't be easy to match last year's excitement.

"You'd have to go a long way back to find a team rebounding like we did in this game, only to have Poly come back and win," said City coach George Petrides. "The game was moved from Thanksgiving, and to Morgan from Memorial Stadium, but it didn't change the rivalry's intensity."

In four of the past five years, at least one team has entered the game undefeated. Poly was 9-0 when it won in 1989, and City was 29-0 before Kyler ended its near three-year-long winning streak last year. This year, both teams are 8-1.

For only the second time in the 106-year-old series, which Poly leads, 51-48-6, the game won't mark the end of the season for both teams.

The teams, along with the 14 other city public schools, competed in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association playoffs last season. But there's a strong possibility that the loser of this year's game won't gain enough playoff points to qualify for the postseason, which begins next weekend.

Poly presently occupies the top spot in the 3A North Region and the fourth seed in its quest for a spot in the eight-team playoff field. City, a runner-up in the North Region, is the seventh seed.

"We're both in the same boat," said Poly coach Augie Waibel. "Two good teams, the winner of this game being in, and the loser, conceivably, being out."

Beaman, who runs a 4.59-second 40-yard --, has rushed for 1,110 yards and 16 touchdowns but isn't the big-play threat that Kyler (now at Tennessee) was. A tireless, shifty runner, Beaman single-handedly out-gained the offense of No. 2 Dunbar, 102-86, and scored the only touchdown in the first half of a 26-6 loss.

But the Engineers likely will need a big game from receiver Martin Prosper, who has 27 receptions for 578 yards and an area-leading 11 touchdowns.

City counters with a formidable defense that has recovered 10 fumbles, anchored by linebackers Jemini Jones (44 tackles, 17 solo) and Dennie Freeman (21 tackles, 11 solo), who has a team-leading eight sacks.

Defensive end Jason Ash (20 tackles, eight solo) has four sacks, defensive back Taber Small, also the running back, has three of the Knights' 12 interceptions.

"Our defense may be a little more mature than theirs," said Waibel. "But I have a lot of respect for City's running game, and hopefully, we can stop it."

The Engineers' defense has been steady all year having returned most of last year's players, who allowed five points a game, including tackles Sebastian Smothers (32 tackles, 25 solo, eight sacks) and Darnell Duzurn (33 tackles, 26 solo, seven sacks).

Those two, along with linebackers Nate Johnson (22 tackles, 15 solo), Vernon Holley (20 tackles, 12 solo) and Mike Brown (20 tackles, 11 solo), have helped Poly shut out five teams and limit the opposition to an average of 6.6 points.

But City's offensive line of Eddie Hooper, Jonathan Jones, Frank Hutson, Chris Perkins and Quantay Johnson averages 260 pounds. Behind it, Small (1,107 yards, 12 touchdowns) and Damian Beane (812, 12) have been able to run with speed, power and guile.

The Knights use the run to set up the passing game, which struggled early but has held its own recently.

Quarterback Mike Johnson targets Griffin (14 receptions, 186 BTC yards, five touchdowns) and Warren Smith, who caught five passes for 67 yards in the Knights' 43-34 loss to Patterson.

The question for City is which team will show up -- the one that had to come from behind to win, 26-20, over winless Northwestern, or the one that a week later led top-ranked Patterson twice in the first half.

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