3A semifinal pits two of best: Dunbar and Wright Teams take similar stats to game at Morgan State

November 24, 1995|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Two of the area's most efficient football teams meet in the 3A state semifinal tomorrow at Morgan State.

Dunbar (10-1), winner of last year's 2A state crown at 12-0, makes its third straight state semifinal appearance in as many coaching seasons under Stanley Mitchell.

Harford County champion C. Milton Wright (10-1), under 10th-year coach Steve Harward, is in its eighth straight playoff game and its seventh semifinal. C.M. Wright was a runner-up in 1990 to McDonough of Charles County.

The Poets, winners of eight consecutive games, average nearly five sacks, 24.9 points, and allow an average of eight points with two shutouts. C. Milton Wright, winner of four straight, outscores opponents on average 24.6-7.3, with four shutouts.

C. Milton Wright compares favorably to Carroll of D.C., said Dunbar All-Metro Tommy Polley (14 sacks, 11 interceptions). Carroll had linemen averaging heights of 6 feet 5, and weights of 267, along with three players who were listed in Street and Smith's during the preseason.

One of the three players was 6-5, 210-pound Greg Graves (45 receptions, 991 yards, eight TDs, six interceptions), whom Polley compares to the Mustangs' 6-4, 190-pound All-Metro wide receiver Duane Fisher (nine touchdowns).

"They had a guy like Fisher, but he didn't do much that day," said Polley, who had two interceptions and two sacks in a 24-12 win over Carroll. "But it was a tough game all around, and C. Milton Wright is a similar type of team."

C. Milton Wright's offensive line averages 242 pounds and includes sophomores Brian Rodrigues (6-4, 248) and Andy Luffburrow (5-7, 220), and juniors Jake Kramer (6-3, 229) and Scott Randolph (6-4, 225) and Chris Lau (5-10, 288).

Behind it, running back Todd Behler (5-7, 165) has churned out 1,148 yards and nine touchdowns, running mate Jason Stiles 419 and seven, and quarterback Todd Shilow has passed for 946 yards and 12 touchdowns to Fisher and Pete Fountain (four touchdowns).

Dunbar counters with 6-5, 200-pound Polley; 6-4, 255-pound Dwyane Green (10 sacks); 6-3, 320-pound Deon Johnson (seven sacks); and defensive backs Derry Williams (nine interceptions) and Dalnell Singfield (six interceptions).

"Harward's linemen read you well, and they'll try to take you out of the play, but we'll have to get pressure on the quarterback," said Mitchell, who has twice seen the Mustangs.

"In their offense, you can't just key on one guy. They like to spread your defense, lull you to sleep, test your tendencies with decoy plays, then attack your weaknesses."

The Mustangs, led by linebackers Jon Judy and Pete Frosthead, are coming off perhaps their best defensive performance of the season, a 28-0 rout of then-No. 8 Randallstown. The Mustangs held two running backs with a combined 2,258 yards and 29 touchdowns entering the game to just 36 total yards.

"That was a great win, right up there with beating Oakland Mills in the semifinals in 1990," said Harward. "It's going to take a similar effort against Dunbar."

The Poets' offense revolves around quarterback Anthony Wiggins (1,619 passing yards, eight TDs) and running backs Ali Culpepper (1,596, 13 touchdowns), Brett Thomas (976, seven) and Jason Boyce (633, three). Culpepper ranks sixth among state rushing leaders.

"Dunbar has some great players in the skilled positions," said Harward. "They're very explosive and can turn nothing into something very quickly."

But if C. Milton Wright can duplicate Carroll's effort -- which included holding Culpepper to just 61 yards -- Dunbar could be in for a long day.

The Poets struggled offensively in last weekend's 14-6 first-round victory over Westlake of Waldorf. Mitchell, pleased with the Poets' regular season-ending 32-0 win over Edmondson, wants more consistency out of his squad.

"We played very well against Edmondson, moving the ball, stopping their running and passing games," Mitchell said. "But we've had to overcome mistakes that we can't afford to make against C. Milton Wright."

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