Baltimore County Schools Kick Off Football Postseason
Seven county schools begin their bids for a state title beginning with the regional semifinals this weekend.
Baltimore County will be well represented when the MPSSAA football playoffs kick off this weekend.
Seven area schools qualified for the postseason, with each school hoping it can advance to the state finals on Dec. 2-3 at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Class 4A finals is set for 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 2; Class 1A will play at noon on Dec. 3, followed by the Class 2A finals at 3:30 p.m and the Class 3A state finals at 7 p.m.
Here are complete previews of the regional semifinal games involving Baltimore County schools. The complete playoff matchups can be found on the MPSSAA website.
Class 2A North
No. 4 Dundalk (5-5) vs. No. 1 Edmondson (6-4)
When: 6 p.m. Saturday at Poly
Outlook: Dundalk takes its Wing-T offense on the road to play an athletic Red Raiders team.
Dundalk started the season off strong with a 19-0 win over Towson before dropping four straight games. Coach Mike Downes moved senior QB Dwayne Marshall to WR and substituted junior Luah Talo. Talo sparked a 4-1 stretch run while passing for 501 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Owls to the playoffs for a second straight year.
To beat Edmondson, Dundalk will need a big game from RB Trevon Reid, who leads the team in rushing with 926 yards and five touchdowns and receiving with 308 yards and two touchdowns. To counteract the blazing offensive speed of Edmondson, Dundalk needs linebackers Taurus Walton (59 tackles) and Shaquille Lane (48 tackles) to make solid tackles at the line of scrimmage and not allow the Red Storm running backs to get into the secondary.
“They are aggressive and fast and they hit every thing that moves,” Downes said. “In order to win we are going to have to play disciplined on defense, because if they get into the open field we don't have anyone that can catch them.”
No. 2 Chesapeake (7-3) vs. No. 3 Lake Clifton (6-4)
When: 7 p.m., Friday at CCBC Essex
Outlook: Chesapeake has been on a roll the last two months. The Bayhawks have won seven straight under first-year coach Rocco Bruno after starting the season 0-3.
The Bayhawks have posted two shutouts—44-0 over Lansdowne and 36-0 over Patapsco—and have not allowed more than 14 points in any game during their winning streak.
During its winning streak, Chesapeake has averaged nearly 32 points a game. This comes with a roster of just 30 players that is without three starters who were kicked off the team several weeks ago due to disciplinary reasons.
RB/QB Malcolm Dowery, LB James Piatrowski and LB/RB James Johnson are among the key players for Chesapeake, which runs a single-Wing offense.
Lake Clifton ended the regular season with a 12-6 loss to Forest Park. Lake Clifton typically plays low-scoring contests averaging just 11.8 points a game and allows an average of 11.3 points per game.
Class 4A North
No. 4 Perry Hall (8-2) at No. 1 Poly (10-0)
When: 7 p.m., Friday
Outlook: Perry Hall ended the regular season with a 34-31 overtime loss to Hereford, but enters the postseason feeling confident.
The Gators played a difficult schedule that includes wins over 2010 3A finalist Franklin and 2009 2A state champion Eastern Tech. Perry Hall's only other loss was a 32-23 setback to Baltimore County champion Catonsville.
QB Mike DeBaugh anchors Perry Hall's offense throwing for 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. WR Derek Taylor is the Gators top receiver (44 catches, 724 yards, 6 TDs), while tailback Eric Latham has rushed for 1,202 yards and 12 touchdowns. Defensively, junior linebacker John Myers leads the Gators with 100 tackles.
Poly, the Baltimore City champion, is coming off an emotional 22-16 victory over archrival City last week. In that game, Poly quarterback Darrell Milburn completed 10 of 15 passes for 180 yards, rushed for 60 yards and tossed a game-winning touchdown pass in the final seconds.
This is also the final season for Poly's legendary coach Roger Wrenn, who is set to retire after 40 seasons.
No. 3 Paint Branch (9-1) at No. 2 Catonsville (10-0)
When: 7 p.m., Friday
Outlook: Catonsville coach Rich Hambor concedes that Paint Branch as a team is bigger than his Comets.
But, if Catonsville has proved anything this year, it’s that speed and strength will win out over sheer size any day. In a battle of two talented rushing attacks (the Comets are averaging more than 270 rushing yards per game), the difference may come down to which team can move the ball successfully through the air.
If that’s the case, Catonsville possesses a dangerous downfield weapon in wide receiver Deniko Carter who’s hauled in 16 passes for 457 yards and eight touchdowns. Also look out for tight end Julian Jones (221 yards, five TDs). Tailback DeAndre’ Lane leads the rushing attack with 14 touchdowns and 1,193 yards. Also, FBs Josh Hylton and Julian Singletary have combined for more than 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns.
Racking up just over 38 points per game, Catonsville has outscored opponents 382 to 111 this year and won its games by an average of 27 points.
However, facing a strong Paint Branch squad whose only loss came at the hands of unbeaten Quince Orchard, Hambor has his players looking ahead to this week alone.
Class 3A North
When: 7 p.m., Friday
Outlook: In almost a mirror image to last year’s playoff run that ended with Franklin as Class 3A finalists, the Indians find themselves entering the postseason again as the third seed with at least one road game to overcome to earn a return trip to M&T Bank Stadium.
While this year’s squad certainly possesses its own identity, coach Anthony Burgos is reminding his players that they can handle adversity on the road.
“Going into the playoffs we have to have a sense as a program that we’ve been here before,” Burgos said. “I told the guys we were in the same exact position last year.”
While Franklin uses its passing game as much as any team in the county, they are actually quite balanced offensively, averaging just more than 160 yards per game both through the air and on the ground.
QB Jackson Thornton has thrown for 1,569 yards and 20 touchdowns. His main aerial weapon is Division-I prospect Ian Thomas who has hauled in 37 balls for 719 yards and nine total touchdowns (six receiving). RB/WR Reggie Ellis has amassed 881 yards from scrimmage and eight total touchdowns and FB Shaquille Melvin has chipped in with 312 yards and five touchdowns on 50 carries. Melvin is also the Indians leader in tackles (43) from his spot on the defensive line.
Class 1A North
No. 3 Northwestern (8-1) at No. 2 New Town (9-1)
When: 7 p.m., Friday
Outlook: While New Town has prided itself on strong defense all season long (the Titans haven’t surrendered an offensive touchdown since week two against Overlea), its first round opponent has been just as stingy. Northwestern, whose only loss came in week one via forfeit, didn’t allow a single point until a third quarter touchdown to Reginald Lewis in the last game of the year.
However, a high-powered New Town offense averaging more than 37 points per game should be up to the challenge. Running primarily out of a spread, Wing-T formation, the Titans have elusive speedsters in the slot with WBs Darrell Wyche (518 yards, 7 TDs) and Rayshawn Clark (28 rec. 592 yards, 10 TDs), as well as FB Gary Clark (438 yards, 12 TDs).
But, New Town is hardly a one-dimensional team. Northwestern will have to contend with athletic QB Shawheem Dowdy (9 TD passes, 9 rushing TDs) who can deliver to WRs Phillip Frazier and Shawn Maggison.
Also motivating the Titans is the fact that although they’ve reached the postseason three years in a row, they have yet to win a playoff game, including last year’s 50-0 route at against Brunswick.
No. 4 Reginald Lewis (8-1) at No. 1 Overlea (10-0)
When: 7 p.m., Friday
Outlook: Overlea Coach Craig Rollins said he's expecting this game to be hard-hitting. Look for RB Alex Wells to be a huge offensive weapon for the Falcons. He has had more than 2,400 all-purpose yards, with 1,345 yards and 12 touchdowns coming on the ground.
"We're going to try and grind them out," Rollins said.
On the defensive side of the ball, look for linebackers John McGill and Austin Newcomb to have an impact.
"Lewis is very explosive, we're going to try and contain them — keep them between tackles," Rollins said. "I tell the kids to take every game one at time. It's the post-season, everyone has winning records — every team has to be taken seriously."
Reginald Lewis is strong on both sides of the ball as it averages 22 points on offense while allowing just less than 9 points a game.