Dunbar focuses on best game with Cambridge

November 25, 1994|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

Around this time last year, Dunbar made its first appearance in the state public schools' 2A football semifinals against Southern of Anne Arundel County.

The meeting, a 43-24 loss, culminated an emotional week for the players, many of whom were also members of the basketball team.

In addition to the big game, players struggled with the death of a basketball teammate, the hiring of a new basketball coach and the college signing by a teammate who now is playing at the University of Virginia.

"It was so totally chaotic that I didn't know which team would show up for the game. It turned out to be the wrong one," said coach Stanley Mitchell. "This year, I think the team is under control and totally focused on what we have to do."

The second-seeded Poets (10-0) had better be focused for tomorrow's 2A semifinal meeting against sixth-seeded Cambridge (11-0), the winner of a state title in 1979 and in its 12th playoff appearance in the 16-year tenure of coach Doug Fleetwood.

Game time is 1 p.m at Morgan State's Hughes Stadium.

"This is our toughest test so far," said Mitchell, whose 27-player roster is dwarfed by Cambridge's with 65. "We're going to have to play the smart, disciplined football that we're capable of, and we haven't done that yet."

Last week, the visiting Vikings faced a Potomac team which was ranked No. 3 in The Washington Post and which had outscored its opponents by an average of 31.8 to 5.4, including a season-opening 25-14 victory over then No. 1 McDonogh.

Yet the Vikings beat Potomac at home, 40-0.

Said Fleetwood: "We just came in and played a great game, even though we were the underdogs."

The teams bear a resemblance statistically, beginning with their common opponents . Cambridge beat Forest Park by 33-6 and Northwestern by 41-0. Dunbar won, 26-0, over Forest Park and, 46-0, over Northwestern.

Dunbar, which operates out of the Pro-I offense, has outscored its opponents 366-18 -- an average of 36 points to 1.8 -- with seven shutouts.

The Poets' 4-4 defense, led by linebackers Tommy Polley (6 feet 5, 195) and Terrence Hinton (5-8, 200) and linemen Shamai Butler (6-0, 217) and Carl Carter (6-4, 245), has allowed only one touchdown.

Cambridge, operating out of a run-and-shoot (out of a one-back set), has outscored its rivals 308-20 (28 to 1.8) with seven shutouts. The Vikings' defense has allowed no rushing touchdowns behind 6-foot-1, 215-pound linebacker Ty Murry, 6-3, pound defensive end Fred Thompson and 6-3, 285-pound two-way lineman Oliver McKinney.

Dunbar has gotten the jump on most opponents behind 6-0, 195-pound running back Reggie Boyce (1,641 yards, 23 touchdowns) and 5-10, 190-pound running mate Ali Culpepper (972, six). But the Vikings counter with a backfield of 5-10, 170-pound Dontra Jones (939, 15) and Mark Savage (633, 13).

Each team's offense is run by junior quarterbacks -- the Poets' by Anthony Wiggins (1,401 passing yards, nine TDs) and the Vikings' by the coach's son, 6-1, 170-pound Ryan Fleetwood (1,720, 13).

Fleetwood targets 6-1, 170-pound senior Bernard Todd (45 receptions, 837 yards, six touchdowns), 6-0, 170-pound Ollie Jones (26, 416, two), James Savage (11, 228) and 6-3, 190-pound sophomore Antoine Lake. Wiggins has Polley (39, 667, five) and 6-0, 170-pound senior Gary Smith (30, 513, one).

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