In making its first state playoff appearance, South Hagerstown faced a Dunbar football team that boasts one of Baltimore City's most successful postseason traditions.
South Hagerstown was hardly intimidated.
The Rebels opened up a 28-point first-quarter lead in routing the 14th-ranked Poets, 42-0, in a Class 1A state quarterfinal game yesterday at Poly's Lumsden-Scott Stadium.
The victory gave South Hagerstown (8-3) a berth in a state semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday at Beall.
At Dunbar (8-3), the rich playoff tradition includes two state titles in three championship-game appearances and seven playoff appearances - the previous being in 1999.
Dunbar also wasn't lacking for playmakers. Quarterback Byron Selby entered the game with 1,402 passing yards and 11 touchdowns. Receiver Herman Hayes had 30 receptions for 665 yards and 10 touchdowns and running back Eric Valentine came in with seven touchdowns. But despite these players, the Poets were held to 100 yards of total offense.
Meanwhile, South Hagerstown thrived in the muddy conditions, scoring on its opening possession en route to a 42-0 lead at halftime.
"We didn't come in lackadaisical like we were going to beat this team. We were prepared, but it was 28-0 before you knew it," said Selby, staring at the scoreboard after the game. "I think we could have beaten them on any other day, but this one hurts to come in here and lose your last game in the mud like this. For them to come all the way from South Hagerstown and put up 42 points like this on us, it really hurts."
Jamel Smith caught a 30-yard touchdown and also rushed for touchdowns of 12, 35 and 47 yards - all in the first quarter.
Michael Campbell scored two second-quarter touchdowns of 8 yards each.
"Everybody came in focused. We already had it in our heads that we'd get this one," said Smith, who finished with 135 yards on seven carries. Campbell added 78 yards on 12 carries.
South Hagerstown gained 242 of its 295 rushing yards in the first half and finished the game with 343 total yards.
Its defense was led by David Minor (two interceptions), Donnie Gatrell (three sacks), Eric Hammel and Ben Mertz (each with a sack and a fumble recovery), Josh Bussard (fumble recovery) and Clayton Swisher (sack).