Scrimmage portended Wright-Eastern semi Mavericks put 11-0 mark on line at Kenwood

Mustangs enter 10-1

Class 3A football

November 20, 1998|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

After a competitive preseason scrimmage with visiting Eastern Tech, C. Milton Wright coach Steve Harward said he recalled one of the visitors' players calling out, "See you in the playoffs," as he was getting on the bus.

Three months later, that player has been proven prophetic as the two teams face each other in a Class 3A state semifinal at Kenwood tonight.

The fifth-ranked Wright Mustangs (10-1), also the fifth seed in the tournament, bring a six-game winning streak into a contest, which also marks their ninth playoff appearance under Harward, who has been their coach 13 years.

"In that scrimmage, I learned that I never wanted to see them again," joked Harward, whose career record is 112-32. "They have great athletes all over the place, they're physical up front, and they're aggressive."

But while Harward's Mustangs are in search of their second state final appearance since being runner-up to Charles County's McDonough in 1990, Eastern Tech made its first playoff appearance only last year.

The top-seeded Mavericks are 11-0 and ranked No. 2 by The Sun. They are in their first state semifinal under fourth-year coach Nick Arminio. In addition, the Mavericks' victories without a loss are a school-record, along with nearly every other statistic the players have accumulated.

"But they've [Mustangs] also got some talent, and they've also got more than a few weapons on their side," said Arminio, whose 28-14 career record includes winning 18 of the past 19 games.

"Steve's got a quarterback who can throw, a nice line and some kids who can run the ball inside or outside," Arminio said.

The Mustangs trailed 7-0 in last weekend's 24-14 quarterfinal win at Damascus of Montgomery County, winner of four state titles. The Mavericks also spent last weekend ousting a five-time state champ, overcoming a 14-point deficit for a 27-20 victory over last year's champ, Wilde Lake.

Against one common opponent, Aberdeen, Eastern Tech struggled to a season-opening overtime win, but Wright romped, 35-0, later in the fall.

Each team features a solid quarterback. The Mustangs have 6-foot-4, 200-pound senior Grant Burrough (986 yards, 13 touchdowns). The Mavericks, 6-3, 170-pound junior Scott Pearce 16).

The Mavericks' multiple-I offense features 6-foot-4, 215-pound All-American wide receiver-defensive back Anthony Lawston, who has 23 career touchdown receptions. Lawston, an All-Metro pick last year, also has 18 interceptions out of the Mavericks' 6-2 defense the past two years.

His brother, junior Steve Lawston, has eight touchdown receptions and has returned two of his six interceptions for scores.

The Mustangs counter offensively with 6-foot, 190-pound running back-defensive end Jerrance Carter (15 rushing touchdowns) and Hardy McSpadden, who has rushed for nine touchdowns, caught seven others, is an excellent punter and kicker and leads the team with four interceptions.

The Mavericks also feature second-team All-Metro Ralph Henry, whose has 39 sacks in two seasons. Running back-linebacker Ray Jones, a preseason All-Mid-Atlantic region pick, has 26 rushing touchdowns and 14 sacks this year.

Wright linebackers Sean Bantner and Mike Rye, along with 6-foot, 270-pound John Kost, rank first through third in team tackles.

Pub Date: 11/20/98

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