Football Game of the Week: No. 6 Atholton at No. 15 Hammond

October 13, 2011

No. 6 Atholton (5-1) at No. 15 Hammond (5-1)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Coaches: Kyle Schmitt, Atholton; Dan Makosy, Hammond

Last meeting: Hammond won, 19-13, last season

Key players to watch

Atholton: QB Brian McMahon, Sr. (58-for-92 passing for 839 yards, 6 TDs; 48 carries for 380 rushes, 4 TDs); RB-CB Kenny Thomas, Sr. (62 rushes for 509 yards, 9 TDs); WR Dequan Ellison, Sr. (27 catches for 488 yards, 4TDs); OL-LB Steve Whiting, Sr. (26 tackles, 8 sacks, 1 fumble rec., 4 pass break ups); DE/OT Cameron Fogle, Sr. (15 tackles, 6 sacks, 1 fumble rec.); LB Brett Haas, Sr. (25 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 fumble rec., 3 INT)

Hammond: RB-LB Devon Paye, Sr. (90 carries for 719 yards, 9 TDs); RB Deonte Jones, Jr., (8 catches for 167 yards, 2 TDs; 53 carries for 275, 3 TDs); WR-CB Akili Moore, Sr. (7 catches for 129 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs); LB Resheed Lashley, Sr. (73 tackles, 42 solos, 6 for a loss); LB Humphrey Anuh, Jr. (58 tackles, 7 for a loss, 4 sacks); DT Olumide Adewume, Sr. (49 tackles – 7 for a loss, 2 sacks, 7, 1 fumble recovery)

Keys to victory

Tempo will be critical to a game that impacts not just the standings in the Howard County league, but also the top spot in the Class 3A East regional playoffs. Atholton wants to speed up this game with its passing attack while the Golden Bears aim to keep it creeping along on the ground.

"It's two contrasting styles," Schmitt said. "They want to slow the game down and control the football. We want to run 65 plays, 70 plays. That's our goal in a game. They're going to huddle and check plays at the line, and we're going to get it and we're going to roll."

McMahon is the key to the Raiders' high-scoring offense with his ability to read defenses and hit his receivers. Paye and Jones make the perfect backfield tandem for the Bears, who like to hold the scoring down.

The Bears know how to win the close ones. Before falling to Glenelg, 17-14, two weeks ago, they had won their previous seven games decided by a touchdown or less, including last year's win over Atholton. In a back and forth game, they beat the Raiders on rushing touchdowns by Paye and Jones in the final quarter. The Bears' defense has also been tough this fall, allowing just 9.7 points per game.

The Raiders have been stingier, however, giving up just 5.7 points per game, and their average margin of victory has been 30.2 points, if you include the 39-0 season-opening win over Glenelg that had to be forfeited because of a summer practice violation.

In the Howard County race, both teams are chasing Glenelg, which is 6-0 thanks to that forfeit, , and they are jostling for the top position in the 3A East region. Atholton is in first place with an average of 7.5 points, and Hammond is second with 7.17. River Hill is third at 6.67.

The Bears are up from Class 2A, where they fell to eventual champion McDonough in the state semifinals last fall. Wilde Lake won the 3A East region last year and went on to take the state title.

"I think the winner of this game has a good shot at being the top seed in our region," Makosy said. "That's going to be important, because River Hill is playing well right now and they're probably going to finish in second or third, so first round of playoffs, the loser of our game will probably end up with River Hill. And the county championship is probably going to be on the line, too, because Glenelg has to play River Hill yet and has some tough games ahead. A team with one loss could win that."

Other games to watch:

No. 5 Arundel at Broadneck, Friday, 6:30 p.m.

Georgetown Prep at No. 2 Calvert Hall, Friday, 7 p.m.

Annapolis Area Christian at St. Paul's, Friday, 7 p.m.

No. 1 Gilman at No. 9 Loyola, Saturday, noon

Overlea vs. Western Tech at CCBC-Catonsville, Saturday, 1 p.m.

-- Katherine Dunn

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