After win, Poets eye a threepeat

Class 1a State Semifinal

November 30, 2008|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,

Dunbar's Tavon Austin, hearing the music over the loudspeaker, started dancing during warm-ups yesterday for the Class 1A state semifinal game against Catoctin and never stopped.

The Poets' quick-stepping running back ran for 213 yards on 17 carries and scored four touchdowns as the two-time defending state champs made its way back to the 1A final for the third straight year with a 48-12 victory over the Cougars at Poly.

Catoctin came into the game with an 8-4 record, making it to the semifinals off back-to-back upsets. But after strong defensive efforts on two of Dunbar's first three possessions, the Cougars of Frederick County could not keep pace with the Poets.

"The whole key was the offense," Catoctin coach Doug Williams said. "We had to score touchdowns, and their defense just shut our offense down. You can't give them the ball over and over like we did.

"All I can say is Dunbar is for real. ... Dunbar has everything going for them. They're experienced and well-coached, and their kids have character. I didn't hear any trash talk out there. You'd think those kids would have egos, as successful as they've been, but I didn't see it. I'm proud to play against them."

Dunbar (12-1) will play Fort Hill of Allegany Couny at noon Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium. If the Poets win, it would make them only the second metro-area team to accomplish win three consecutive state titles, joining Wilde Lake, which did it from 1990 to 1992.

It took the Poets a series to settle into this game. Catoctin stopped Dunbar on fourth down at the Cougars' 22-yard line, but Dunbar senior defensive tackle Antonio Brown said the defense held a quick meeting on the sideline and set out to help its team find its rhythm.

"Things were a little shaky at the start, maybe because of the magnitude of the game," Brown said. "But we said: 'We've got to shut it down right here. Get the train on the tracks and get the ball rolling [Dunbar's way] again."

While most eyes were on Dunbar's high-powered backfield of Austin, quarterback Jonathan Perry and running back Davon Muse, Dunbar coach Lawrence Smith said it is his offensive and defensive lines that have made all the difference in the Poets' season.

"Don't get me wrong. Tavon's great, Davon's great, Jonathan Perry and [wide receiver] Sean Farr, but when you get five guys who are dedicated offensively and defensively, they control the game."

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