Baltimore Area MPSSAA Playoff Preview – Semifinals
The 2019 MPSSAA semifinal round holds many familiar faces, including many of the most winningest programs in the state, including the top three that head MPSSAA’s list in playoff victories – Dunbar (61), Fort Hill (58), and Damascus (55).
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The quartet of 4A semifinalists – Quince Orchard, Wise, Northwest and Old Mill, have accounted for the last eight 4A state titles, and ten of the last 12. Quince Orchard won the 4A state title in 2007, and again last year, finishing as runner-up in ‘16 and ‘17. Old Mill won the 4A in ‘09 and ‘11, and was runner-up in ‘14. Wise won its first state title in 2012, after being runner-up in ‘09 and ‘10, then ran off a 3-peat from ‘15-17. Northwest won back-to-back 4A state championships in ‘13 and ‘14. Of the 20 teams that have played in the last ten 4A state title games, these four have claimed 13 of the 20 title game berths.
Damascus and Linganore, both 3A state semifinalists, are two of the most legendary programs in the state, as the Swarmin’ Hornets not only rank 3rd in MPSSAA history in playoff wins, but are tied with Dunbar for the second most state titles won, with 10. Linganore ranks 5th all-time in MPSSAA history in post-season victories, with 40, and are just one of eight schools to win at least 6 state titles. Huntingtown, who won a regional championship in 2018, made five straight Final Four appearances from ‘09 through ‘13. Mervo earned it’s first semifinal appearance last year. Damascus is 14-3 in the semifinal round, while Linganore is 12-1.
In 2A, Middletown (23), Elkton (21), and Potomac (17), have all made the post-season 17 times or more, and all have won state championships, including the former notching a 3-peat. New Town, who won a 2A regional championship last year, were 1A state runner-ups in 2012.
The 1A foursome have accounted for each of the last 13 Class 1A state titles, including Dunbar with 7, Fort Hill with 5, and Catoctin in 2009. Dunbar captured a pair of 3-peats in that span, from ‘06-08 and ‘10-12, while Fort Hill won four straight from ‘13-16, before the Poets won in ‘17, and the Sentinels last year. Cambridge, meanwhile, has won three 1A state titles.
Thirteen of the sixteen teams that remain have won a state title, while two others have finished as runner-up. Eleven have won a state title in the last 15 years, while ten have won a state championship in the last 10 seasons. Among the 16 coaches in the semifinals, 9 have won state titles.
4A State Semifinal
#21 Old Mill (10-2) @ #2 Wise (12-0)
Old Mill – Chad McCormick 9th season 87-19, 12-5 p/o
Wise – DaLawn Parrish 14th season at Wise 150-33, 29-7; 154-49
Old Mill. O: 25.2 D: 18.7 PD: 6.5
Wise O:48.5 D: 4.3 PD: 44.2
The Pumas won their 56th straight game versus Price George’s County opponents, with their 35-6 win over Flowers Friday night, and Coach DaLawn Parrish won his 150th game at Wise. The Patriots took their 10th victory in 11 games with a convincing 34-13 win over Parkville, Friday night.
The Pumas have won 62 of their last 63 games versus MPSSAA opponents since 2015, with their only loss coming to Quince Orchard last season in their state semifinal game. The Pumas, who began their season with ten running-clock wins, have outscored their opponents 404-34 (33.7-2.8) in the first halves of their twelve games. The Pumas have scored 35 or more points in eleven of twelve games.
Friday night, the Pumas held the Jaguars to 6 points, the tenth time in twelve games they’ve held their opponent to 6 points or less. The Pumas forced four Jaguars turnovers, as Tracey White registered 20 tackles (12 solo) and a sack, while Bo Weight added three tackles for loss. Jalil Farooq scored two touchdowns, and quarterback Jaden Sauray threw for a touchdown and ran for a touchdown in the win, putting the Pumas in their 9th semifinal in 12 years.
The Patriots, making their 21st playoff appearance, are playing their best ball of the season, and it showed in all phases on Friday night. The Patriots rushed for 289 yards and 5 touchdowns on the Knights, scoring on three of their first four possessions, staking a 20-7 lead at halftime. The Pats helped cause four second half turnovers by the Knights.
The Pumas are 5-0 versus top 50 competition, with wins over #28 Bowie (51-6), #29 Suitland twice (47-12, 20-6 p/o,), #34 Oxon Hill (58-16), and #19 Flowers (35-6). Old Mill is 4-2 versus top 50 comp’, losing to #17 Douglass (30-0) in the opener, suffered a blowout loss to #20 South River (47-9), and captured wins over #38 Meade twice (33-13, 19-6 p/o), #33 Arundel (37-36), and #31 Parkville (34-13).
Coach Parrish would become the fifth coach in MPSSAA history to win 30 playoff games with a win Friday night, joining Dunbar’s Lawrence Smith (39), Fort Hill’s Todd Appel (35), and MoCo greats, Al Thomas (32) and Bob Milloy (30). He and his Pumas will be looking to nab their 7th state title game appearance in 11 years. Coach McCormick won a state title in his first year at the helm in 2011, in a thrilling 36-35 victory over Quince Orchard, and took the Pats to the 2014 4A state title game, falling to Northwest, 34-31.
This meeting is a rematch of the 2009 4A state title game, when the Patriots came back from a 16-7 halftime deficit to the Pumas to win their first state title game in school history. The Patriots lost the MPSSAA’s leading rusher, Josh Forman (2,288 yards, 31 TDs), on their eighth play from scrimmage, but still held a 7-0 lead, before the Pumas struck back and took the lead with a 2-point conversion, 8-7. After the Pumas stopped the Pats on downs on their 1 yard line, they marched 99 yards for a score to take a 16-7 lead.
Midway through the third quarter, the Patriots Joe Thornton found Chad Hicks on a 58 yard scoring pass to cut the lead to two, 16-14. Then, with 10:19 to play, Brad Cummings nailed a 26 yard field goal, which would turn out to be the game-winner. With the loss of Forman, Jason Clements stepped up big for the Patriots, rushing for 164 yards, while the Pats defense held the Pumas scoreless after intermission.
Farooq has been the Pumas big playmaker this season, amassing 1,786 yards and scoring 22 touchdowns, including 54 carries for 605 yards (11.2 ypa), and 23 receptions for 608 yards (26.4 ypr). Sauray has thrown 70-107 for 1,601 yards and 24 touchdowns, with 5 interceptions. Senior 6’1 WR/S Dorian Strong does it on both sides of the ball, registering 6 interceptions, adding 13 receptions for 340 yards (28.3 ypr) and 5 touchdowns.
White is the Pumas leading tackler, with 111 (68 solo), 20 tackles for loss, and 10 sacks. Linebacker Rodney Gainous is second on the team in tackles, with 91 (58 solo), adding 17 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and two blocked punts. Safety Kaden Jernigan, a junior, has 70 tackles (51 solo), 11 tackles for loss, and 5 interceptions. 6’1 215 sophomore defensive end Amar Thomas has recorded 19 tackles for loss, and 11 sacks.
The Patriots have controlled their first three playoff games by running the ball, with Caron Tull and Joey Graves leading the way, as Tull put together back-to-back 100 yard games in the first two rounds of the playoffs, then Graves rushing for 125 yards and two scores on 19 carries in the win over Parkville. Tull rushed for 68 yards and two scores on 14 carries, and Tre Thomas had 79 yards rushing and a touchdown on four carries.
For the season, Tull has rushed for 905 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Graves has rushed for 852 yards and 8 touchdowns. Quarterback Myles Fulton has thrown for 12 touchdowns. The Patriots defense features two-year starting lineman, 6’2 225 Shawn Ennals, and 6’2 230 Jake Marcus.
3A State Semifinal
#6 Mervo (12-0) @ #5 Linganore (11-1)
Mervo – Patrick Nixon 8th season 67-21, 6-4 p/o
Linganore – Rick Conner 18th season 175-43, 28-12 p/o
Mervo O: 37.0 D: 4.2 PD: 32.8
Linganore O: 31.6 D: 14.4 PD: 17.2
Both Mervo and Linganore were pushed to their respective limits last Friday, as the 3A defending runner-up Lancers needed a 4th-and-goal game-winning plunge with less than three minutes to play to put away North Point, while the Mustangs needed a game-clinching touchdown with just over two minutes to play to finally extinguish Westminster.
This matchup will pit strength versus strength, as the Lancers boast arguably the most effective running attack in the state, while Mervo’s defense allows a MPSSAA best 4.2 points per game, and their starting defense has allowed just four touchdowns all season, and just two since week 1.
The Mustangs were stingy again last Friday, holding the Owls, who were averaging 35.8 points during a nine game win streak, out of the end zone, limiting the guests to a pair of Evan Warren field goals. Down 6-0 at half, Kelin Kimbrough hit Tyree Williams for a 26 yard score to take a one point lead, before the ‘Stangs Kiran Herman hit a 27 yard field goal to give the hosts a 10-6 lead. Kimbrough hit Malik Lindsay on a 26 yard touchdown with 2:05 to go put the Mustangs up 10, 16-6, where it stayed. The Mustangs defense came away with five take-aways.
The Lancers, meanwhile, converted a 4th-and-goal with 2:16 left in regulation to break a 28-28 tie when Brady Domroe plunged in from the 1 yard line to hold off the 2018 4A runner-up Eagles, 35-28. Xander McClure led the Lancers, as he has all season, rushing for 194 yards and a score on 30 attempts, and also completed a half-back option for a score.
The Mustangs, who have not allowed a touchdown in five games, have outscored their last ten opponents, 387-32. Kimbrough has thrown for 22 touchdowns this season, while 5’10 208 sophomore Kyle Parker leads the run game. Lindsay, a Dundalk transfer, is a two-way player that is one of Kimbrough’s top targets, as is senior Jarrett Gasque.
The defense is led by 6’6 260 lineman Kamar Missouri, bolstered by 6’1 230 junior linebacker Xavier Shell, 5’11 215 senior linebacker Jaqual Pitts, and 6’7 320 Kennedy Johnson.
The Lancers have more top 50 wins than any other team in the MPSSAA, with 8, including victories over Liberty, Westminster, Middletown, Oakdale, Walkersville, Urbana, Rockville, and North Point, winning six by double-digits. The Lancers are 11-0 versus MPSSAA opponents, with their only loss coming to 12-0 South Jersey Group 1 champion, Penns Grove.
McClure, the Lancers star junior running back, is leading the MPSSAA in rushing, with 2,098 yards, adding 17 touchdowns. McClure, who is averaging 217.5 rushing yards per game this season, is averaging 220 yards on the ground in the Lancers three playoff wins. The versatile 5’11 220 senior Joey Bruscia is a master of sorts for the Lancers, including adding a different dynamic behind center.
Domroe and Jordan Samoya add more fire power to the Lancers running machine. 6’2 250 senior Dustin Keith, 6’4 285 junior Scott Hummel, and 6’6 230 junior pave the way for the Lancers, while Keith and Mitchell cause havoc on defense, along with Bruscia, Domroe, and Ryan Bartholow.
2A State Semifinals
#9 Elkton (12-0) v #16 Middletown (10-2)
Elkton – Matt Feeney 6th season 56-16, 9-4 p/o
Middletown – Collin Delaurte 3rd season 23-9, 3-0 p/o
Elkton O: 46.2 D: 10.5 PD: 35.7
Middletown O: 32.6 D: 12.3 PD: 20.3
The Golden Elks continue to shine, breaking open a 14-14 tie with Liberty by scoring 33 unanswered points on Friday night. The Elks have scored 31 or more points in all 12 of their games, and rank 4th in the MPSSAA in scoring, averaging 46.3 points per game. The Elks have won every game by 17 or more points this season.
Friday night, Nolan Null and Trevin Ewing hooked up for three touchdowns, on passing scores of 45, 70, and 76 yards, to advance the Elks to their fourth state semifinal game in five years.
Middletown turned three of their four interceptions into touchdowns to top previously undefeated North Caroline, 28-14. Quarterback Reese Poffenberger rushed for four touchdowns for the Knights.
The last and only other time Elkton was 12-0 was in 2000, when the Golden Elks finished 14-0 and won the 1A state title. The Elks have three top 50 wins – over #36 Oakdale, #46 Harford Tech, 52-6, and Friday night’s win over the #35 Lions, 47-14. The Knights, who have won nine straight games, have four top 50 wins, including a 20-7 victory over #36 Oakdale, a pair of wins over Walkersville, 37-7 and 41-34 overtime win in week 11, and Friday’s win over the Bulldogs.
These two met in a 2012 1A state semifinal, with the Knights shutting out the Golden Elks, 45-0, before going on to win their second of what would be three state championships, finishing 14-0. Jack Welch rushed for 140 yards and a score on 11 carries, and added a 45 yard field goal, while Jess Powell scored three touchdowns. The Elks managed just 89 yards of total offense.
Null has thrown for more than 2,000 yards for a second straight season, and has thrown for 27 touchdowns in 11 games. Tayshawn Watters has rushed for 1,107 yards and scored 23 touchdowns in all, while Ewing has amassed more than 1,900 all-purpose yards and scored 22 touchdowns. Michael Vass has 11 touchdown receptions, while averaging more than 20 yards per reception. Jalen Husky registered his 11th interception for the Elks on Friday.
Poffenberger has accounted for more than 2,500 yards and 34 touchdowns for the Knights this season, including more than 2,000 through the air. Brian Walker, Cole Porter, and Matthew Marceau are Poffenberger’s top three targets, with Walker posting 10 touchdown receptions.
Both are storied programs, as the Knights are making their 23rd playoff appearance, and rank 7th all-time in MPSSAA history with 35 post-season wins. The Knights will be playing in their 14th semifinal game, with a record of 7-6. Elkton is making their 21st post-season appearance, and are playing in their 12th semifinal game, with a record of 3-8.
#27 New Town (9-3) @ #11 Potomac (11-1)
New Town – Mike Savage 2nd season 19-6, 5-1 p/o
Potomac – Ronnie Crump 8th season 63-28, 6-6 p/o
New Town O: 28.5 D: 6.8 PD: 21.7
Potomac O: 41.8 D: 14.6 PD: 27.2
The New Town Titans provided the biggest upset of week 12, holding the then #10 Douglass Eagles to a scoreless tie through regulation, before Samuel Okezimo banged through a game-winning 18 yard field goal to survive and advance on the road. Four different drives saw the Eagles inside the Titans 7 yard line, and all four times the Titans held firm, including recovering a fumble at the their own 1 yard line with just over two minutes to play.
This was the Titans sixth shutout of the season, though they later forfeited their 33-0 win over Sparrows Point for using an ineligible player. Saturday’s win was the first win over a top 50 team for the Titans this season, who lost their only other top 50 matchup in the season opener, falling to rival Milford Mill, 14-12.
The Wolverines of Potomac have won seven straight games since their lone loss to Douglass, scoring 33 or more points in all seven games, including Friday night’s thrilling 33-26 win over Milford Mill. New Town topped Douglass, the top team in the PG 3/2/1A division, who was the only team to beat Potomac, while Potomac beat the top team in the BaltCo 2A division, Milford Mill, who had beaten New Town.
The Wolverines overcame a 20-15 halftime deficit, then a 26-18 deficit, when Dominique Anthony hooked up with Amaree Beynum for a 30 yard touchdown pass, then hit Corey Dyches for a two-point conversion to tie the game at 26 late in the third quarter.
Facing a 4th-and-15, at the Millers 27 yard line with less than five minutes to play, Anthony found Beynum again for the game-winner with 4:47 to go. Anthony threw four touchdown passes, and Xavier Gwinn connected on a pair of field goals.
The Titans defense is led by linebacker Gerrelle Johnson, a UMass commit recording 102 solo tackles, as well as 5’8 225 DT Walter Ransom III, who has 119 tackles (59 solo) this season, with 5 sacks and two forced fumbles, and junior Zion Antoine, who has 86 solo tackles, and 4 forced fumbles. Zayvion Woodard has rushed for more than 1,400 yards for the Titans this season.
The Wolverines boast one of the top passing attacks in the state, with Anthony leading the MPSSAA in both passing yards, with 2,803, and passing touchdowns, with 38. For his career, Anthony has thrown for 6,469 yards and 72 touchdowns. Corey Dyches leads the MPSSAA in both receiving yards, with 1,200, and touchdown receptions, with 19.
Anthony James has 19 receptions for 396 yards and 7 touchdowns, while Dadrian Carter-Williams has rushed for 930 yards and 11 touchdowns, adding 15 receptions for 208 yards and a score.
1A State Semifinal
#12 Dunbar (11-1) v #49 Cambridge – SD (10-2)
Dunbar – Lawrence Smith 13th season 142-23, 39-6 p/o
Cambridge – SD Gaven Parker 2nd season 17-6, 3-1 p/o
Dunbar O: 35.8 D: 8.2 PD: 27.6
Cambridge – SD O: 42.2 D: 21.1 PD: 21.1
This state semifinal pits two of the four most storied programs in the 1A classification, between the Poets and Vikings, who have made 58 playoff appearances, competed in 135 post-season games, and captured 92 playoff wins between them, almost exclusively in the 1A and 2A classification. Yet, the two have never played each other.
Dunbar has more post-season wins than any other school in MPSSAA history, 61, while Cambridge ranks 10th, with 31. The Poets are playing in its 21st semifinal, the Vikings, their 20th, 2nd and 3rd most in MPSSAA history.
A week after surviving a 42-38 shootout with Lake Clifton, the Poets made easy work of Perryville Friday night, blanking the Panthers, 38-0, after holding a 30-0 lead at intermission. Sophomore quarterback Karon Moore accounted for all five touchdowns for the Poets, with three passing touchdowns, one rushing, and one touchdown reception, from running back Dion Crews Harris.
With the win, the Poets won their 11th straight game since losing the season opener to #6 Mervo, 20-14. It was the 8th time in 11 games (not including one forfeit win) that the Poets held their opponent to 8 points or less, and their 6th shutout of the season. This is the 16th time in 17 years the Poets have advanced to the semifinal round.
The Vikings held off Edmondson in a back and forth game Friday night, 36-26, rushing for 299 yards. Khalik Beasley rushed for 92 yards and two scores on 13 carries, while Malik Ennals rushed for 76 yards and a score, and Camren Lake ran for 59 yards on 10 carries. The Red Storm were the only common opponent between the two, as the Poets topped their league rival, 37-12, in week 8.
The Vikings have won 10 of their last 11 games, and average 42.2 points per game, which ranks 6th best in the MPSSAA. The Vikings have scored 28 points or more in all twelve of their games, including their two losses – the season opener at Rising Sun, 42-28, and a week 9, 40-34 double-overtime loss at Easton, 40-34.
Moore, the Poets sophomore quarterback, also accounted for five touchdowns in their 44-0 opening round playoff win over Douglass. Crews-Harris bolsters both the running game and the Poets defense, where cornerback Davonta Ayers leads the secondary for the MPSSAA’s 9th rated scoring defense (8.2).
Beasley paces the Vikings running attack, with 1,396 rushing yards, scoring 21 touchdowns, while Lake has added 722 yards on the ground and 8 touchdowns. Junior John Henry’s (55-108-1064-15-6) top target is Logan Middleton, who has 27 receptions for 669 yards and 11 touchdowns. Ennals leads the defense, registering 50 solo tackles, 10 sacks, 3 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries, while adding 10 touchdowns, scoring four different ways.
Willie, a native of Chicago, and now a resident of Columbia for 40 years, is an educator at Homewood Center in Howard County, after spending 12 years as a real estate agent, following 10 years of running a small men’s retail company. Willie has contributed to Max Preps, Digital Sports, and Varsity Sports Network. Willie has produced MPSSAA top 25 rankings for both football and basketball for 15 years, across various platforms. From a large ‘sports family’, Willie’s brother Mike led Reservoir High to the 3A basketball state title game in 2018, while his nephew Anthony serves as the Indianapolis Colts College Scouting Coordinator.