No. 10 Archbishop Spalding and quarterback Zach Abey, left,… (Kim Hairston (left); Steve…)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Coaches: Brian Propst, Archbishop Spalding; Donald Davis, Calvert Hall
Last meeting: Calvert Hall won, 29-23, last season
KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH
Archbishop Spalding: QB-DB Zach Abey, Jr. (38-for-84 passing, 474 yards, 2 TDs, 5 INTs; 99 carries, 671 yards, 9 TDs; 20 tackles, 1 INT); OL-DL Mike Williams, Sr. (6 tackles); RB-DB Avery Simmons, Jr. (45 carries, 337 yards, 4 TDs; 2 INTs); TE-DL Melvin Gowl, Jr. (16 carries, 48 yards, 2 TDs; 17 tackles, 2 sacks); RB-DB Evan Byrd, Sr. (29 carries, 140 yards, 2 TDs; 6 catches, 55 yards, 1 TD); RB-LB Jack Havens, Jr. (34 tackles, 1 sack)
Calvert Hall: QB Colar Kuhns, Jr. (1,440 yards passing, 10 TDs, 5 INTs); WR Kyle Levere, Sr. (421 yards receiving, 3 TDs); RB-DB Stephen Kelly, Sr. (406 yards rushing, 3 TDs; 32 tackles, 4 INTs); S-WR Delando Johnson, Sr. (2 INTs, 1 ret. for TD, 54 tackles, 2 forced fumbles); LB Garrett Epple, Sr. (1 sack, 45 tackles, 1 forced fumble)
KEYS TO VICTORY
The winner of this regular-season finale will come away with the No. 2 seed and a quarterfinal bye in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference tournament. Both teams have one loss in the conference — to No. 1 Gilman, which has clinched the top seed. Calvert Hall has played one less conference game because it won't meet Loyola until the Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving Day.
Underestimated at the beginning of the season, the Cavaliers have shown remarkable resilience for a young team, coming back from a 13-0 deficit to beat McDonogh, 14-13, and bouncing back from a 49-2 loss to No. 1 Gilman to beat Mount St. Joseph and Loyola.
The Cardinals are coming off Monday's 24-14 loss to Gilman, and they are banged up — with five starters unable to play after injuries suffered in that game. Still, the Cavaliers won't be taking them lightly.
"They have depth," Propst said. "Donald always seems to put it together. They have phenomenal speed. They've got so many formations and their defense, they fly to the ball so they're very, very well coached, and it's one of those deals where it takes me a few hours to try to pencil things in as to what's going to try to work here and what's going to try to work there. They're young also, so that makes a good matchup for us. They're a little bigger than us, but we never back down. Everybody's been bigger than us."
The Cavaliers' game plan starts with Abey, who can run and pass and make a lot of big plays.
"The kind of toughness he exhibits, they just follow him," Davis said. "Its great to have that kind of leadership for a team where they say, 'He's going to show us the way to put us on his back and we're going to get on.' It's one of those things where they've created a culture of tough perseverance. To watch their coach [Mike Whittles, who died from pancreatic cancer in June] endure what he did. You can say he lost his battle, but he more than beat the odds. He lived an active lifestyle for over a year. That permeates the program and that's a group of kids that believes they can beat us."
Before Monday's game against Gilman, the Cardinals won their previous four games by an average of a touchdown. They led Gilman at the half, but a couple of turnovers helped the Greyhounds rally in the second half.
Without five starters, they will need some of the players who haven't seen a lot of action to fill in, although Kuhns, who had 235 yards passing against Gilman, has plenty of healthy targets.
The Cavaliers have suffered some key injuries this season, too, but their players are back now and they are peaking at the right time, Propst said.
Both coaches said defense against the running game and containing the opposition's versatile quarterback will be critical.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
St. Mary's at No. 9 St. Paul's, Friday, 3:30
Fallston at North Harford, Friday, 7
Wilde Lake at No. 3 River Hill, Friday, 7
Mount St. Joseph at Loyola, Saturday, noon
McDonogh at No. 1 Gilman, Saturday, 1 p.m.