State championships

November 28, 1997|By Lem Satterfield, Rick Belz, Rich Scherr

At University of Maryland

Class 3A

No. 4 Wilde Lake (12-0) vs. Thomas Johnson (11-1)

When: Today, 3 p.m.

Outlook: Wilde Lake, winner of 25 of its last 26 games, seeks its fifth state title and first since 1992. Thomas Johnson, making its fifth straight playoff appearance, won its only state title in 1982. The Wildecats will employ either a power-I or a wishbone offensive formation. Thomas Johnson runs a wing-T. Both teams emphasize the run with RB Danny Bayron (1,118 yards, 17 TDs) and RB Brandon Finney (906 yards, 15 TDs) leading the Wildecats and QB Ricky Roberts (1,095 yards, 12 TDs) and RB Leroy Ambush (967 yards, 19 TDs) leading the Patriots. A dry field favors Wilde Lake, which has more speed. Wilde Lake's defense has seven shutouts and has allowed 48 points, or 4.0 per game. In two playoff games, the Wildecats have allowed six points. Wilde Lake has a strong pass rush behind Luke Vanderwagen (17 sacks) and Duane Kerr (15). Finney (five interceptions) and Quentin Collins (four) lead the Wildecats' defensive backfield. Vanderwagen leads Wilde Lake in fumble recoveries with four and Garth Herdrich has five. Bayron leads in tackles (111), followed by Chris Carlson and Kerr with 108 and Nick Service with 106. Wilde Lake has a plus-25 turnover ratio.

Class 4A

Seneca Valley (12-0) vs. Suitland (12-0)

When: Tonight, 7

Outlook: Perennial Montgomery County power Seneca Valley has won eight state championships, the most of any team, and is 26-6 all time in the playoffs. The Screaming Eagles are dominant on both sides of the ball, averaging more than 34 points a game while also recording six shutouts. RB Ty Washington (1,365 yards, 18 touchdowns through the quarterfinals), QB Brian Fleury (1,637 yards, 20 TDs, 66 percent completion rate) and WR Durique Taylor (35 receptions, 581 yards, 11 TDs) lead the offense, while Jason Johnson and Brendon Kennedy (eight sacks each) lead the defense. Suitland, of Prince George's County, is making its first trip to the finals after compiling its best record in school history. RB Germaine Bennett has rushed for 1,507 yards with 15 TDs to lead a multi-faceted offense that has averaged nearly 33 points a game. QB Isaiah Long replaces starter Freddie Thomas (rotator cuff), and will be aiming for wide receivers Maurice Shaw and Kevin Best, who have over 1,100 yards between them.

Class 1A

Beall (11-1) vs. No. 3 Hereford (12-0)

When: Tomorrow, 1 p.m.

Outlook: This Class 1A state title game pits Beall's strong defense against Hereford's powerful offense. Beall is in its eighth state playoff appearance but only its second state title game, having lost, 7-6, in 1993 to Boonsboro. Cumberland newspapers suggest the Mountaineers' state title game was played last weekend, coming off a 14-8 win at six-time state champion Allegany. Hereford is in its second state playoffs and its first state title game, so a big question is whether the Byrd Stadium atmosphere will intimidate the Bulls. Among Beall's most impressive performances defensively was a 14-12 win over Severn, when the Mountaineers shut out Dennard Melton, the state's No. 2 all-time scorer with 65 touchdowns (412 points).

Class 2A

Fort Hill (12-0) vs. No. 7 Dunbar (8-4)

When: Tomorrow, 4 p.m.

Outlook: It's a rematch of the 1994 Class 2A state title game, which Dunbar won, 30-15. The Sentinels want the Poets, who have reached five straight semifinals in as many years of playoff participation. Dunbar needs big games from LB Kirk Williams (10 sacks), DB Dahnel Singfield (10 INTs), DB Tyrel Henderson (nine INTs), Devin Murphy (nine INTs) and OL-DL Unray Peters (6-foot-5, 235). Offensively, QB Denelle Hale (1,499 passing yards, 10 TDs; 807 rushing, seven) and RB Thomas James (1,391 yards, 10 TDs) will need to step up. Fort Hill has generated 519 points behind 6-2, 230-pound RB Josh Page (1,728 yards, 28 TDs), RB Noah Read (1,145, 15), QB Josh Grove (513 passing yards, seven TDs) and 5-7, 150-pound Mike Page, who ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash at a University of Maryland combine.

Pub Date: 11/28/97

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