Shad Roe gives you his state semifinal football picks

Two local teams still in the mix

will either reach the title game?

November 22, 2011

First of all, I'd like to congratulate the Aberdeen Eagles for proving me wrong last week. I had them being beaten by North Harford in the 3A North title game, but the Eagles battled back to top the Hawks 38-20, avenging a regular-season loss to North Harford, and securing a spot in their first state semifinal since 2003, when they won the 2A state championship. In case you forgot, Aberdeen was 1-9 last season, so this season's turnaround is one of the best I can bring to mind.

The other team left alive, Perryville, is still riding its glorious unbeaten streak, now at 12 games, after topping Cambridge-South Dorchester in the 1A East final, and earning a trip to its first ever state semifinal. Both the Panthers and Eagles are playing really good teams with place-names that end in "hill." Here's how I see things shaking out:

Aberdeen at River Hill, 3A State Semifinal. Third-seeded Aberdeen just got past its toughest test of the season thus far by topping North Harford, but there's going to be an even bigger one in tonight's matchup with River Hill. The Hawks, who probably deserve a top-10 state ranking, were in the state tournament every year from 2006 to 2009, winning two Maryland championships during that time, so they are no strangers to the pressures of the semifinals. Add in the fact that Aberdeen is playing away, and you've got a mighty big task for the Eagles to complete. Are they equal to the task? Can Johnny Brooks and his crew pull off an upset and get back to the finals, just one year after an abysmal 1-9 season? It could happen, surely, and I'd love to see it, but I would not bet on it. The pick: River Hill wins, 32-21.

Perryville at Fort Hill, 1A State Semifinal. Poor Panthers, having to drive three hours out to Allegany County on Saturday to play top-seeded Fort Hill. The upside? They're playing at Greenway Avenue Stadium in Cumberland, which is a real beauty, and reminds me of the venues you'd see in Friday Night Lights, or any of those movies about high school football in Texas. But, stadiums and road trips aside, Fort Hill, like Perryville, has yet to be beaten this season, and will not go down easy on Saturday. As with Aberdeen, I'd love to see the Panthers get the win, and head to their first state championship game, but they'll need a lot of things to go right if they want that to happen. The pick: Fort Hill wins, 28-20.

Last week's record, 1-1

Shad's all-time record, 1,745-684, 71.8 percent

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