In 2A, it's a record offense vs. state's stingiest defense

Hereford, with 624 points, takes on Potomac for title

High Schools

December 01, 2004|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Of the four state title games this weekend at M&T Bank Stadium, the most intriguing is Saturday's 11 a.m. Class 2A clash between No. 1 Hereford and Potomac of Prince George's County.

It matches the state's highest-scoring offense against its most formidable defense. Since the playoffs expanded from 32 to 64 teams last season, two 13-0 teams will meet in a title game for the first time.

"This game carries a lot of hype. It's been talked about for a long time," said senior All-Metro lineman Joe Akers, a member of the Bulls' championship teams of 2001 and 2002.

While the Bulls have scored a single-season state-record 624 points, the Wolverines have registered eight shutouts and given up 27 points.

"It's probably the biggest game I've been involved in," said Akers, who is 48-3 at Hereford. "Although it's like no other challenge we've faced, we'll try to treat it like every other game."

Much of the Wolverines' motivation comes from losing last year's 2A title game, 33-25, in overtime to Aberdeen after getting a big lead.

"Beating a team the caliber of Hereford would atone for [the loss to Aberdeen]," said coach Eric Knight, who's in his 12th season.

Hereford coach Steve Turnbaugh scouted Potomac for the fifth time in Saturday's dominating 14-0 semifinal shutout of Allegany County power Fort Hill, a team that averaged 39 points. It was Knight's 100th career win against 32 losses.

"You can't practice against their size. Physically, they're one of the biggest teams I've seen," said Turnbaugh, who is 108-13 in 10 seasons. "They're the best team we'll play since Urbana [semifinal losses in '99 and 2000]."

Potomac's front four is made up of Terrell Poe (6 feet 3, 320 pounds), Reggie Berry (6-2, 250), Augustus Parrish (6-4, 303) and Deonte Monroe (5-10, 350). Berry and Parrish have 13 and 10 sacks, respectively, and junior Adrian McLeod (6-1, 195) is "one of the best linebackers I've seen," said Turnbaugh.

That defense will try to shut down Andy DePaola (1,984 yards, 22 touchdowns), who has completed 69.1 percent of his passes this year.

DePaola has versatile targets in Cory Smith, Ryan Farrell, Aaron Moore and Matt Jones. Smith has scored touchdowns rushing (19), receiving (five) and on kickoff and punt returns (three). Farrell has scored on four receptions, kicked four field goals and set a single-season state record with 79 extra points. Moore has six receiving touchdowns and three on kickoff or punt returns, and Jones, four scoring receptions.

Running back Alex Butt has rushed for 763 yards and 12 touchdowns behind a line anchored by Akers (6-3, 320), Steve Steinbacher (6-5, 285), Brian Smith (6-5, 253) and Mike Kirby (5-10, 210).

"We've played teams that score a lot of points," Knight said. "But not in as many ways as Hereford does."

DePaola will face Potomac defensive back Korey Coles, who has eight interceptions. Linebacker Steven Stanback, whose twin Stephan, is a tight end and linebacker, has four interceptions.

Offensively, Coles has 24 receptions for 617 yards and eight touchdowns. He and Eric Westbrooks (26, 510, 10) are the targets for junior James Nickens (1,801 passing yards, 24 touchdowns).

But Hereford has a swift defensive secondary of Farrell, Smith, Moore and Jones. Farrell has returned two of eight interceptions for scores, Jones has six interceptions and Smith two.

"They're big, fast and balanced," Farrell said of Potomac. "They'll probably try to go deep on us."

Hereford's defensive front is comprised of Akers, All-Metro pick Billy Rueter (6-2, 215), Artie Willette (6-2, 275), Tyrell Seabron (5-10, 240) and David Myrowitz (6-2, 210). At linebacker, Butt is the Bulls' top tackler, folowed by Rueter (18 sacks), Akers (14) and Seabron (11).

"They've got size," Knight said. "Other than Fort Hill, they're the largest team we'll see."

Hereford's linemen aren't as big as the Wolverines', though. Parrish, Poe, Berry, Brandon Jackson (6-8, 340), Terrell Moore (6-0, 255) and Quentin Pearson (6-0, 200) clear the way for running backs Titan Trabue (1,136 yards, 16 touchdowns) and Ollie Thomas (271, four).

"They graduated last year's quarterback, but they've returned everyone else," Turnbaugh said. "They wear T-shirts with their motto `Unfinished Business,' so you know they're motivated."

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