Stakes rise in football rematch



The football postseason has produced a rematch of the River Hill-at-Long Reach game, won by the Lightning, 15-14, on Oct. 29. The teams will meet again Friday at 7 p.m. in the Class 3A East regional semifinals.

No. 7 Long Reach (9-1) and No. 9 River Hill (9-1) are joined in the playoffs by two other Howard County teams from Class 2A South in Atholton (7-3) and Glenelg (6-3).

None of the four has ever won a state title in football.

Atholton claimed the top seed in the region over defending 2A state champion Potomac (8-2) of Prince George's County, and the Raiders will host Charles County's McDonough (6-4).

Second-seeded Potomac has been to the past two state finals and will host No. 3 seed Glenelg, which played a rare nine-game schedule, at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Matt Winger, who has rushed for 1,758 yards and scored 21 touchdowns, had four scores in a 27-15 win over Glenelg two weeks ago to clinch Atholton's first playoff berth in 20 years.

Long Reach and River Hill shared the county title with 8-1 league records, but as Lightning coach Pete Hughes said, "We share it, but we can always say we beat River Hill head-to-head."

So, what about the two 10-year-old schools meeting again?

"I'm sure they feel the same way we do about it and would have liked to play somebody else in the first game," Hughes said. "But we're excited about being in the playoffs for the second straight year."

Volleyball playoffs

Howard County placed two volleyball teams in the state tournament this week, with the finals set for tomorrow and Friday at Ritchie Coliseum in College Park.

Top-ranked Centennial (17-1) made it back to the states with a 3-0 win over No. 11 River Hill (11-5) in the 3A East regional final and began defense of its 3A state title last night against North Carroll (12-4) at North Point High in Waldorf.

No. 3 Glenelg (15-3) pulled off a 3-1 upset at Calvert (17-1), ranked No. 4 by the Washington Post, to win the 2A South and set up a possible showdown with No. 4 Liberty (16-1) in the 2A final on Friday at 8:30 p.m. at Ritchie.

The Gladiators play Loch Raven (12-5) tonight at 8:30 at North Point in the 2A semifinals. Defending state champion Liberty and North East (17-1) of Cecil County, the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference champion, meet tonight at 6:30.

Reservoir's run

The Reservoir girls soccer team got plenty of quality mileage in its impressive playoff run this fall.

The Gators (7-5-3) came away with three 1-0 shutout road wins over Howard County foes Atholton, Glenelg and Oakland Mills to stake claim to their first Class 2A South region crown before falling to Eastern Tech in Saturday's state semifinal.

Reservoir coach Jeff Bradbury said one of the goals coming into the season was to find a higher playing level against the best county teams. His team responded, particularly with the playoff win over Glenelg, its first against the Gladiators.

"We've talked about character all season. Sometimes kids just want to focus on the end. And they don't realize the journey is really important," Bradbury said.

"There's a destination: `We want to win, we want to do this.' But they forget about all the memories, the friendships and everything they've worked toward - those kind of life lessons we've learned over the course of the season, and it showed."

The Gators graduate seven seniors, including forward Melissa Bradbury and goalie Christa Puccio.

A talented group will return next season to build on the positive trend, with midfielder Sarah Dwyer and forward Chelsea Godbout leading the way.

Hart signs with UM

Dean Hart, a three-sport standout at Atholton who has a 4.0 grade point average in honors courses, signed for a lacrosse scholarship to Maryland.

Hart's father, mother and grandfather also attended College Park.

Numbers game

3:46 -- Time between the two goals scored by the Hammond boys soccer team in the second half of Friday's 2-0 win over Hereford in the Class 2A state semifinals. James Headley scored the game-winner off a feed from Mostafa Ebrahimnejad, who added the insurance goal.

7 -- State championships won by Howard County football teams since the tournament began in 1974 - Wilde Lake (5), Howard (1) and Oakland Mills (1).

39 -- Combined state titles in boys soccer won by Howard County schools. River Hill will seeks its seventh crown in the Class 3A title game against Towson, and Hammond will try for its first against Liberty in Class 2A.

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