There is a certain pride the top-ranked River Hill defense has. The Hawks don't just want to beat their opponents, they want to shut them out.
And they did just that last night with a 28-0 victory over visiting Elkton of Cecil County in a Class 2A state semifinal in Clarksville.
"It's not something we expected to do early in the year, but we got off to a good start with four shutouts in a row," River Hill coach Brian Van Deusen said.
"The kids started taking pride in it and wanted to shut everybody out. It's been an awesome year. The big thing tonight is we lost Zach Martin early and he's the key to our defense."
The Hawks (13-0) tied the state record for shutouts (11) in a season in advancing to a state final for the second straight year.
River Hill scored a touchdown and extra-point kick by Carlos Griffin-Benitez in each period. Malek Redd, who had a game-high 163 yards on 12 carries, scored the first two on runs of 56 and 70 yards.
Quarterback Luke Hostetler scored in the third quarter on a 2-yard sneak, and Michael Campanaro tallied his 30th touchdown of the season on a 27-yard burst early in the fourth quarter.
Campanaro gained 95 of his 130 rushing yards on 22 attempts in the second half.
River Hill will meet No. 6 Eastern Tech (13-0), a 35-0 winner over Clarksburg in the other 2A semifinal, next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium for the state title.
The Hawks will be playing in the state championship game for the second straight season. Last year they lost, 37-18, to Friendly in the 3A final.
River Hill advanced last night despite losing Martin, a senior linebacker, early in the second quarter with a sprained left ankle. Martin did not return.
"Pat McCleaf, my backup, was able to step up big time," said Martin, who said he will be ready next week for the championship. He was injured in last year's 3A final and had to come out.
"What more can you ask than 11 shutouts, let alone three in the playoffs?"
The Golden Elks (10-3), who lost in last year's 1A semifinal to eventual state champion Dunbar, were turned away twice at the River Hill 14 last night.
With 11 shutouts, the Hawks tied the 1977 Seneca Valley team that went 12-0 and won the then-Class A (now 3A) state championship.