Saturday’s contest between top-ranked Salisbury and No. 4 Stevenson at Mustang Stadium in Owings Mills is one of the more heavily anticipated games of Division III.
But before the powerhouses could focus their attention to each other, they had to take care of some Capital Athletic Conference business Wednesday. The nine-time reigning national champion Sea Gulls (14-0 overall and 6-0 in the league) handled Wesley, 24-3, while the Mustangs (12-2, 6-0) defeated Marymount, 10-6.
Salisbury coach Jim Berkman said the midweek contest was timely in terms of helping to prevent a buildup of emotion for Saturday’s game.
“If you have to practice all week long at this point in the season, there’s a lot more buildup to a game,” he said Thursday morning. “But by the same token, you can’t practice for five days before you play somebody. You have to take a day off in there somewhere or else the kids will be killing each other. So last night was probably a good break for us. Nobody played more than half of the game. The starters played the first and third quarters, and the second and third guys played the second and fourth quarters. So we were able to give a lot of other guys some playing time and by the same token, we didn’t kill ourselves for 60 minutes in a barnburner and come back on heavy legs.”
Stevenson coach Paul Cantabene took a different approach.
“I don’t think it really matters,” he said Thursday morning. “If you’ve got a full week, then all you’re doing is thinking about them. If you’ve got a half week, then you’re limiting how much you think about them. We didn’t play particularly well last night, so maybe we were thinking about them already. I don’t think it helps or hurts you at all. Obviously, you always want as much time as possible to prepare for Salisbury, but at the same time, I don’t think they do anything tremendously special. They just have a lot of really good players, and the things they do, they do extremely well.”