Previewing the state high school football regional finals

13 local teams are involved in 7 regional championships around the Baltimore area this weekend

November 15, 2012|By Katherine Dunn | The Baltimore Sun

Regional championships

Sherwood (9-2) at No. 4 Westminster (11-0)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Region: 4A North

Coaches: Mike Bonavia, Sherwood; Brad Wilson, Westminster

Last meeting: First meeting

Outlook: The Owls, who are looking for their first state title, meet a Sherwood team that won the last of its three titles in 2008. In last week's semifinal, the Warriors used a strong running game and big plays to get past Catonsville, 26-7, in a game that was 13-7 with eight minutes left. The Owls have relied on their passing game led by Deryk Kern, who has thrown for 3,304 yards and 55 touchdowns — one shy of the state record. In last week's 51-7 win over Blake, the Owls ran for three touchdowns for the first time this season.

No. 7 Meade (9-2) at No. 6 Old Miill (9-2)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Region: 4A East

Coaches: Rich Holzer, Meade; Chad McCormick, Old Mill

Last meeting: Old Mill won, 28-18, on Sept. 29

Outlook: The Mustangs pulled off the biggest surprise of the regional semifinals when they stunned previously unbeaten and Class 4A East No. 1 seed Arundel, 36-28. That came a week after a 14-0 upset of No. 15 Broadneck to clinch a regional playoff berth. Now the Mustangs will try to complete the Anne Arundel County upset triangle against the defending state champion. The Patriots, who have won two of the past three Class 4A titles, rebounded from a 36-35 loss to South River in the regular-season finale with a 21-7 win last week over the Seahawks with a strong ground game led by Shane Brown, who carried the ball 40 times for 225 yards and two touchdowns.

No. 12 Atholton (10-1) at No. 3 River Hill (11-0)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Region: 3A East

Coaches: Kyle Schmitt, Atholton; Brian Van Deusen, River Hill

Last meeting: River Hill won, 21-12, last year

Outlook: The most anticipated matchup in Howard County football in recent years had to wait for the playoffs, because in the county's scheduling rotation, they did not meet during the regular season. They last met a year ago in the regional final, where the Hawks avenged an early season 14-0 loss and went on to win their third state championship in five years. The Raiders are still looking for their first crown. The Hawks have beaten the Raiders in two of the last three regional finals and have won eight of the last 10 meetings, with Atholton's only wins coming in the previous two regular seasons.

No. 13 Milford Mill (10-1) at No. 5 Franklin (10-1)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Region: 3A North

Coaches: Reggie White, Milford Mill; Anthony Burgos, Franklin

Last meeting: Franklin won, 35-7, on Oct. 5

Outlook: Franklin, which reached the state title game two years ago, presents a lot of problems for opponents with its depth and big-play capability. That showed in the regular-season win over the Millers, who took a 7-0 lead and could not add more, even though they were the beneficiaries of five Indians turnovers. The Ellis brothers, WR Marquis and ATH Reggie, have combined for 26 touchdowns and have caught 15 of QB Jackson Thornton's 21 touchdown passes for Franklin. The Indians lost only in their season opener to Class 4A power Wise. The Millers, led by QB Kyle McEachern, won their only state crown in 1987.

Dundalk (9-2) vs. No. 11 Edmondson (10-1)

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Where: Poly

Region: 2A North

Coaches: Sean Sandora, Dundalk; Dante Jones, Edmondson

Last meeting: Edmondson won, 22-6, last year

Outlook: After last week's hard-fought win over Baltimore City rival Douglass, Edmondson players talked about "unfinished business." A year ago, they lost 48-8 in the state semifinals to Middletown, which went on to take the title and the Red Storm players want another crack at that trophy. Dundalk, which has never won a state title but has been in the regional playoffs three straight years, likely feels the same way after falling to the Red Storm in last year's regional opener. The Red Storm held on to beat Douglass, 14-10, in a semifinal it led, 14-0, with less than four minutes to go. The Owls advanced with a 21-13 win over Owings Mills.

Forest Park (7-4) at No. 8 Dunbar (10-1)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Region: 1A South

Coaches: Ray Harcum, Forest Park; Lawrence Smith, Dunbar

Last meeting: Dunbar won, 32-12, in 2010

Outlook: The Poets have been perhaps the most imposing playoff presence since they made their first trip to the regionals in 1993. Since then, they have won 40 playoff games (one shy of the state record) and eight state titles (four shy of the state record). The Owls have rolled over their Baltimore City Division I opponents, allowing only 14 points in their last 10 games and posting eight shutouts. The Poets beat Forestville, 51-0, in their semifinal last week. Forest Park, looking for its first regional title, finished fourth in the city's Division II and defeated W.E.B. Du Bois, 32-22, in its semifinal.

Manchester Valley (8-3) vs. New Town (9-2)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Where: Woodlawn

Region: 1A North

Coaches: Tony Shermeyer, Manchester Valley; Joe Holland, New Town

Last meeting: First meeting

Outlook: The two teams have plenty of motivation, as they are both going after their first state football title. New Town's season ended early a year ago when they had to forfeit for using an ineligible player. The Mavericks, from Carroll County, are only in their fourth season as a program and reached the playoffs for the first time this fall. In the semifinals, Manchester Valley faced a battle in beating Reginald F. Lewis, 20-14, and succeeded on some risky pass plays by QB Dom Frank, including one to set up his own 6-yard run for the game-winning touchdown with 2:56 to go. The Titans rolled through their semifinal, 50-15, over defending regional champion Overlea.

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