State finals offer variety

Record-setting players, tough defenses ... there's a little of everything

December 03, 2007|By Stefen Lovelace | Stefen Lovelace,SUN REPORTER

This weekend is the reason every high school football player decided to put on shoulder pads, cleats and a jersey.

M&T Bank Stadium will play host to the high school football state finals, and five undefeated area teams have qualified for the biggest games of the year.

The Class 3A championship game will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday with No. 5 Hereford (13-0) looking for its fourth state title and first since 2002. The Bulls will take on Damascus (12-1), a team that is no stranger to playoff football either.

Damascus won state championships in 2003 and 2005 and has a balanced offense this year.

Hereford's offense has been all about spreading the ball around. Lonnie Liggins is the feature back with 1,212 yards and 24 touchdowns, but a host of Bulls handle the ball throughout the game behind a quick and talented offensive line.

No. 4 Arundel (13-0) will play Quince Orchard in the 4A final at 7 p.m. Friday. The Wildcats run an explosive no-huddle offense and are led by quarterback Nick Elko, who has set a state record for passing touchdowns with 40.

"Nick's a hard worker. He's a student of the game. He's a football player," Arundel coach Chuck Markiewicz said.

The Wildcats look to slow a Cougars team led by Thomas Addison Jr. (1,234 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns) and Jaron Morrison (1,142 passing yards, 14 touchdowns). Quince Orchard's last state championship was in 1991.

No. 2 Dunbar will try for back-to-back state titles and its fourth state championship overall when it plays Allegany at noon Saturday to determine the 1A champion.

Running back Tavon Austin, who was slightly injured Saturday against South Carroll, is expected to play and will try to extend his state touchdown record of 89. The Poets (13-0) have dedicated their season to former coach Ben Eaton, who died this year, and Dunbar has been trampling the competition all season.

Allegany (13-0) has a talented running back of its own in Jake Twigg, who has 27 touchdowns this season.

Eastern Tech and River Hill will meet at 3:30 p.m. Saturday for the 2A title.

The Mavericks (13-0) have been in the playoffs five straight times since 2003 and still are searching for their first state title. The No. 1 Hawks are used to getting to states, having reached the semifinals in 2005 and the final in 2006, but still never have been the champions.

Offensively, No. 6 Eastern Tech is led by quarterback Travis Crane, who manages the game with a stable of talented backs.

The Hawks (13-0) have one of the best running backs in the metro area in Michael Campanaro has 1,622 rushing yards. Backs Malek Redd and Zach Martin also contribute, combining for 35 touchdowns.

Martin, who was injured Saturday but is expected to play, anchors a relentless defense that has allowed just 14 points while producing 11 shutouts in 13 games.

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