Football Game of the Week: Fallston at No. 15 North Harford

Winner will take sole possession of first place in the UCBAC Chesapeake Division

October 27, 2011

Fallston (8-0, 4-0) at No. 15 North Harford (7-1, 4-0)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Coaches: Dave Cesky, Fallston; Ken Brinkman, North Harford

Last meeting: North Harford won, 36-35, last season

Key players to watch

Fallston: QB John Hetterman, Sr. (47-for-81 passing for 1,028 yards, 15 TDs); RB-LB Marc Badger, Jr. (146 carries for 930 yards, 7 TDs); WR-LB Ryan Umpleby, Sr. (24 catches for 549 yards, 6 TDs; 35 solo tackles, 65 total tackles, 2 INTs); WR-S Chris Rose, Sr. (15 catches for 411 yards, 8 TDs; 25 solo tackles, 53 total tackles); DE-WR Connor Davis, Sr. (51 solo tackles, 89 total tackles); LB-OT Harrison Stone, Sr. (43 solo tackles, 78 total tackles).

North Harford: QB Ryan Stinar, Sr. (43-for-86 passing for 842 yards, 6 TDs; 51 carries for 426 yards, 5 TDs); WR-DB Brady Maguire, Sr. (18 catches for 465 yards, 3 TDs); RB-DB Josh Welsh, Jr. (104 carries for 574 yards, 10 TDs); RB-DB Eric Bayer, Jr. (33 carries for 197 yards, 3 TDs; 33 tackles, 1 INT); S-RB Tyler Campbell, Jr., (40 tackles, 3 INT, 2 fumbles; 14 carries for 194 yards, 3 TDs); RB-DB Nick Warren, Sr. (33 carries for 271 yards, 3TDs).

Keys to victory

Fallston has gotten off to a strong start and faces its toughest opponent with an undefeated record for the second year in a row. The memory of last season's loss — on a Hawks' two-point conversion in the final minute — gives the Cougars plenty of motivation.

Still, North Harford, defending champion in the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference Chesapeake Division, is the team to beat, having played the tougher schedule. Since falling to St. Paul's, 28-13, the Hawks have won five straight, including a 38-12 victory over then-unbeaten Aberdeen. Since the loss, the Hawks have outscored opponents 191-50.

The Hawks rely on their running game and have five players with three or more rushing touchdowns this season. At 6-feet-4, 185 pounds, the quarterback Stinar is second on the team in rushing yardage but he can also put the ball in the air. The Hawks line has also been solid.

"First of all, North Harford is going to have superior strength," Cesky said, "because their weight program is superior to a lot of the schools. Kenny teaches a lot of weight training, and I think that gives them a distinct advantage. They don't make a lot of mistakes, and they're well coached. They run their offense as good as anybody. You don't see a lot of difference from one year to another."

Fallston's offense relies on a more balanced approach with Hetterman passing for more than 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns. Cesky said that, between the passing and running games, any of his players could be the star on any day. The Cougars' defense has posted two shutouts and allowed just 72 points — including only 26 in its last four games. The key against North Harford will be minimizing mistakes, said Cesky, whose team last beat the Hawks in 2008.

Last year, the Cougars got a 14-0 jump on North Harford, and Brinkman said his team can't let that happen again against a Fallston team that executes its offense well.

"We had a slow start," Brinkman said, "but we were able to regain control, run some option and slow the game down a little bit. That's what we'll try to do again, be slow and methodical and have long drives."

The winner will take over sole possession of first place in the UCBAC Chesapeake Division. While a victory could all but clinch the title for the Hawks with one game left, the Cougars face Aberdeen (3-1 in the division) next week.

Other games to watch:

No. 14 Glenelg at River Hill, Friday, 7 p.m.

Franklin at No. 13 Perry Hall, Friday, 7 p.m.

St. Paul's at Archbishop Curley, Friday, 7 p.m.

No. 2 Calvert Hall at No. 8 McDonogh, Saturday, 1 p.m.

-- Katherine Dunn

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