Two reasons to celebrate

For Archbishop Spalding, MIAA B Conference football title would be perfect gift for coach's birthday



Archbishop Spalding football coach Mike Whittles will definitely have reason to celebrate his 52nd birthday Friday night if his Cavaliers come through.

The Cavaliers (9-1) are playing for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship against Boys' Latin (9-1) at 5:45 p.m. at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium.

Spalding has never won a major championship in 24 years of football at the Severn school. Winning the South Division title with a 4-0 league record put the Cavaliers in the final, and it was their first football title of any sort.

"When I saw the date for the championship game was my birthday, I thought that could be a good sign," said Whittles, whose Cavaliers set a school record for wins when they knocked off Pallotti, 15-12, on Thursday.

"I can't think of a better way to celebrate my birthday [than] if we win Friday night."

It won't be easy for the Cavaliers, because the Lakers have been a nemesis, to say the least. North champion Boys' Latin (4-0 in the division) defeated Spalding, 20-10, in a regular-season inter-division contest on Oct. 15 - the Lakers' sixth consecutive win over the Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers last defeated Boys Latin in 1999, Whittles' first season as coach. It was Spalding's third straight victory over the Lakers at that time.

Mike Whittles (the coach's son), Jake Trantin, Sean Hatley, Casey Amsler, A.J. Wineke and Justin Mullinex-Hughes will lead the Cavaliers into the big game.

Whittles and Trantin are standouts on both sides of the football at running back and linebacker. Whittles leads the team in rushing with 663 yards on 99 attempts (6.7 average) and four touchdowns. Trantin has also run for four touchdowns and 253 yards, and Hatley has 460 yards and three rushing touchdowns.

Quarterback Amsler is steady, and center Zach Potter anchors the offensive line.

The Whittles-Trantin duo also anchors a defense that has given up just 95 points in 10 games. Wineke (six interceptions) and Mullinex-Hughes (four interceptions) lead the secondary.

Lakers quarterback Grady Gamble is injured and saw limited action in the Lakers' 28-27 victory over St. Paul's on Friday. Boys' Latin has two outstanding receivers in Brian Farrell and James Neal.

State playoffs

Going into the last week of the football season, Anne Arundel County could land five teams in the playoffs, two in Class 3A and three in 4A.

Severna Park (8-1) is already in the 3A playoffs for a school-record third straight year.

Annapolis (6-3) has to win its homecoming game tomorrow at 5:15 p.m. against Southern (3-6) to have a chance at making it via bonus points.

The Panthers need River Hill (8-1) to lose Friday at Howard (3-6).

Old Mill (7-2) has clinched a berth in 4A, and Arundel (7-2) will be in with a victory at South River (4-5) and could still get in by bonus points if they lose.

Sixteen teams qualify on playoff-points averages (playoff points divided by games played) and are seeded accordingly. The four regular-season regional winners - East, North, South and West - get automatic berths. The rest of the field around the state is seeded fifth through 16th.

A re-seed for the state semifinals will take place after the regional champions are identified. Again, teams are seeded according to their regular-season points average.

Severna Park needs a win at home Friday over Broadneck (4-5, 41 points) to seal one of the top four seeds as the 3A East regional winner. Annapolis with 72 points is fifth in the 3A East.

Old Mill has 82 points and can take the regional top seed with a win at home vs. Glen Burnie (1-8). With a Glen Burnie upset and an Arundel win over South River, the Wildcats (73 points) could win the region on bonus points (a point for each game won by a defeated foe).

North County (5-4, 53 points) hosts Meade (3-6) on Friday, and if the Knights win, they should earn their first playoff berth in 10 years. They would be the fourth seed in 4A East.

Quick hits

Senior Kanishia Sheppard of county volleyball champion Broadneck was thrilled that her freshman sister, Nicole Sheppard, was brought up from junior varsity for the county final against South River and the playoffs. ... Old Mill's Ryan Callahan has scored at least one touchdown in 23 consecutive regular-season games and has rushed for 100 yards or more in 23 of his 31 career games. ... Roger Stitt retired as Northeast athletic director and teacher, and Marianne Shultz is the interim AD. ... After scoring only three goals as a junior, Ryan Hadley of MIAA B Conference boys soccer champion St. Mary's led the metro area this year with 53 points on 23 goals and seven assists.

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