State champs River Hill, Dunbar making perfect case for No. 1

Poll position

December 10, 2007|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN REPORTER

Who is No. 1?

River Hill and Dunbar believe they can stake claim to the top ranking after winning state football championships Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium. The teams went in ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in The Sun's Top 15 poll but won in contrasting fashion.

So was River Hill's 14-7 squeaker over No. 6 Eastern Tech (13-1) in the Class 2A title game enough to keep it at No. 1? Said Hawks coach Brian Van Deusen: "It was the first time we were tested all season."

No. 2 Dunbar, riding a 24-game winning streak, repeated as 1A state champ with a 58-34 romp over storied Western Maryland program Allegany, an eight-time state champion.

The teams, which both finished 14-0, would like to settle it on the field.

"We want to play River Hillso bad, so, so bad," Poets junior linebacker Tevin Brown said. "I think our athletes match up good with their athletes. If anybody can make that happen, please do so. In order to be the best, you got to play the best, which is why our team wants to play them so bad."

Dunbar junior running back Tavon Austin has no doubt who would win.

"I think we're the best," Austin said. "When we go out there and play our game, I don't think anybody can beat us if we don't make mental mistakes. I think we're just the best and if River Hill wants it, they can get it."

Austin also said that he and River Hill star playmaker Michael Campanaro, also a junior, are "twin brothers."

"He's one of my great players. I've played against him in basketball and that's my twin brother," Austin said.

After the Hawks survived their encounter with a tough Eastern Tech team, Van Deusen was asked about playing Dunbar.

"Give us a few tapes and just give us a week to prepare and we'll be there," said Van Deusen, 33. "They're certainly a great team. They've won it two years in a row. Austin is one of the best players in the state, but I would take these guys [his players] against anybody in the state."

River Hill won its championship with defense, while Dunbar used its high-powered offense to secure its title.

The Hawks had three consecutive shutouts in the playoffs - extending their shutout streak to five games - before giving up seven points to Eastern Tech. River Hill finished the season with 11 shutouts, tying the state season record. On offense, the Hawks averaged 27.8 points in four playoff victories.

In contrast, Dunbar averaged 46.5 points during the playoffs, scoring a state-record 186 in four playoff games. That included a record-tying 58 in the state title game. The Poets gave up 80 points in the playoffs.

"Some people don't give Baltimore City football a lot of credit, " Dunbar coach Lawrence Smith said. "When you get to this level, it's like slow motion for our kids. That's just the way it is. You can see Baltimore City football has great athletes."

So, who is No. 1 for 2007? Find out Wednesday in The Sun's All-Metro special section.

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