Baltimore Area MPSSAA Playoff Preview
Four Baltimore area teams head to the playoffs with an undefeated record – Mervo, Elkton, Parkville and South River, while Franklin begins its quest to make history, and Dunbar ties a post-season feat that only one team has surpassed.
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#1 Parkville (9-0, #27) v #8 Wheaton (3-6) – Coach Justin Payne’s Knights bounced back from a 3-6 season and sprang to an undefeated record and a #1 seed in the 4A North. Should the Knights advance through the first two rounds in the regionals, the Knights would be assured of a home game in the quarterfinals, and would be no worse than an overall 4 seed in the new re-seeded format.
#2 Paint Branch (8-1, #8) v #7 Dulaney (5-4) – Dulaney will be prohibitive underdogs when they travel to Burtonsville, as the #8 Panthers boast one of the best defensive units in the state, allowing just 7.4 points per game.
#3 Sherwood v #6 Catonsville (5-4) – Like the Lions of Dulaney, the Comets will also be heavy underdogs to their Montgomery County hosts, as the Warriors average 37.1 points per game, posting a +30.9 point differential. The Comets, who made the playoffs in 6 of 9 years from ‘04 through ‘12, are making their first post-season appearance since that run.
#1 South River (9-0, #11) v #8 Severna Park (3-6) – The Seahawks generated the 4th highest scoring team in the MPSSAA, averaging 49.6 points per game, with David Foust (2,130 passing yards, 29 TD/3 INT) and Sean Leonard (54-1082-16) collaborating to forge the most productive passing combinations in the MPSSAA.
#2 Old Mill (7-2, #31) v #7 Annapolis (3-6) – After advancing to the playoffs in 17 straight seasons, the Patriots had been shut out of the post-season the last two years, but are back in the thick of things, earning the 2 seed in the 4A East. The Patriots edged the Panthers, 21-20, last Friday.
#3 Meade (7-2, #41) v #6 North County (3-6) – The Mustangs, coming off a 72-0 rout of Glen Burnie, are looking for their first playoff victory since 2013. The Mustangs held off North County, 28-26, on the Knights Homecoming in week 7. The Mustangs closed the regular season winning six straight games.
#4 Arundel (6-3, #37) v #5 Broadneck (4-5) – This showdown, like Old Mill-Annapolis, is a back-to-back rematch, as the Wildcats were victorious in a 38-34 shootout, last Friday. The Cats Austin Slye has thrown for 1,849 yards and 22 touchdowns, including throwing for 288 yards and 4 touchdowns in the win over Bruins. The Bruins sophomore quarterback, Josh Erlich, has thrown for 1,859 yards and 19 touchdowns.
#1 Mervo (9-0, #7) v #8 Kenwood (4-5) – The Mustangs made a huge statement last year, winning their first regional title in school history. Those heroics were done in the 4A classification, but now the undefeated Baltimore City champions will ply their wares in the 3A bracket, and should they advance through the first two rounds, will be no less than an overall 3 seed in the re-seeded quarterfinals.
#2 Franklin (7-2, #3) v #7 Edgewood 7 (5-4) – The defending 3A state champion Indians have a great chance to win it all again, but if they are to repeat, and win their two regional games, which they most assuredly will, they’ll have to win the quarterfinal and semifinal on the road, with the 7 seed. Franklin would become the first team in MPSSAA history to win 4 3A state titles in 7 years.
#3 Dundalk (6-3, #45) v #6 CM Wright (5-4) –
#4 Towson (5-4) v #5 City College (5-4) – The Generals are making just their second post-season appearance in school history, while the Knights earned their first playoff berth in 5 years. The Knights are coming off a 10-6 win over arch rival Poly in the country’s greatest rivalry, in its 131st edition.
#1 River Hill (8-1, #16) v #8 Wilde Lake (2-7) – The Hawks look to reach the semifinal round for the the first time in 6 years, after getting there in 8 of 9 years from ‘05 through ‘13. The Hawks are led by Maryland commit Beau Brade. The Hawks running attack is led by Anthony Behermann (129-988-11), Zach Igwebe (146-892-13), and Brade (78-615-5), one of the best defensive players to ever come through the county. The Hawks pummeled the Wildecats, 41-7, in week 5.
#2 Westminster (7-2, #35) v #7 Long Reach (3-6) – The Owls are on a 7 game win streak, scoring at least 31 points in all 7 games. Erick Stranko (149-985-16 rushing) is the Owls best player on both sides of the ball.
#3 Marriotts Ridge (7-2, #47) v #6 Atholton (4-5) – The Mustangs captured a claim to it’s first county title in school history, sharing the honors with four-time state champ River Hill, and defending 2A state runner-up Glenelg. This matchup is a rematch of their week 9 meeting, where the ‘Stangs ran away with a 35-7 victory. The Mustangs top 25 defense is led by junior defensive tackle Jack Baxter.
#4 Manchester Valley (4-5) v #5 Hammond (5-4) – After starting 4-0, the Mavericks have stumbled down the stretch, dropping 4 of their last 5 games.Hammond posted their first winning season since 2013, and won more games this season (5) than they had the last three years combined (4).
#2 Glenelg (6-3, #44) v #7 Century (6-3) – While the 2018 Gladiators finished 13-1, with a state title game appearance, they had to overcome the losses of Wande Owens, the MPSSAA’s 2nd all-time leading rusher, and Head Coach Butch Shaffer, who retired with a 102-47 record in his 13 years at Glenelg, and the 5th best winning percentage in county history (.685). Despite some stumbles, finishing 6-3, the Gladiators grabbed the 2 seed, falling just short of the top seed in the 2A West. The Knights closed out the season winning 5 of their last 6 games.
#3 Liberty (6-3, #36) v #6 Oakland Mills (6-3) – The Lions have won 6 of their last 7 games, with their only blemish an overtime loss to Westminster. The Lions are led by quarterback Nate Kent, who has accounted for more than 2,400 yards and 25 touchdowns this season. The Scorpions are led by Howard County’s leading rusher Kai Castle, who has rushed for 1,392 yards and 19 touchdowns.
#1 Milford Mill (8-1, #14) v #8 Digital Harbor (3-6) – The Millers have rebounded from their 42-7 loss to Franklin with five straight wins. Jordan Morant is the Millers leading rusher, with 892 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, while adding 61 tackles, 7 for loss, and 5 sacks. The Millers, the 3A state runner-up in 2017, were bounced in the first round of the playoffs last season, 15-12, by Franklin, after knocking off the Tribe, 26-21, in the regular season.
#2 New Town (6-3, #40) v #7 Eastern Tech (4-5) – The Titans shut out the Mavericks, 21-0, in week 9, and will have to beat them again this week to move on. The Titans forfeit loss to Sparrows Point, after trouncing the Pointers on the field, 33-0, could cost them the overall 7 seed in the quarterfinal round, should Liberty move on to the quarterfinal, otherwise the loss wouldn’t cost them anything, as they would be an 8 seed, if all favorites won, wether they won or lost the game with the Pointers.
#3 Hereford (6-3) v #6 Patterson (5-4) – After starting 0-3, the Bulls have won six straight games, averaging 43.7 points per game in that span, albeit versus lowly competition. The Bulls last state semifinal appearance was in 2009, and have gone 2-6 in the playoffs since. The Clippers did give 9-0 Mervo their second closest margin of the season, losing 28-14 to the Mustangs.
#4 Owings Mills (6-3) v #5 Overlea (5-4) – The Golden Eagles edged the Falcons, 20-12, in week 3. The Falcons, however, did beat then top 20 New Town, 16-14, in week 8.
#1 Elkton (9-0, #9) v #8 North East (5-4) – The undefeated Golden Elks are 5th highest scoring team in the MPSSAA, averaging 46.3 points per game, producing 391 yards of offense per contest. Nolan Null has thrown for 1,656 yards and 19 touchdowns, and Tayshawn Watter has rushed for 1,001 yards and scored 17 touchdowns. Trevin Ewing has also scored 17 touchdowns, and amassed more than 1,500 all-purpose yards for the Elks, while Michael Vass, Null’s top target, has scored 12 touchdowns on 29 receptions, averaging 23.9 yards per catch.
#3 Harford Tech (8-1, #50) v #6 Easton (6-3) – The Cobras try to shake off a 52-6 drubbing from the hands of Elkton on Friday, their first loss of the season. The Cobras Kelvin Mendez has rushed for 1,333 yards, while Ryan Hunt has thrown for 1,877 yards. Warriors junior quarterback Ryan O’Connor has thrown for 2,172 yards and 26 touchdowns this season.
#4 Parkside (8-1, #49) v #5 Rising Sun (8-1) – The Tigers of Rising Sun were the UCBAC Susquehanna league champions, though their strength of schedule ranks in the bottom 15% of the state. Parkside features a pair of running backs who both may top the 1,000 yard rushing mark this weekend, Alijah Bivans (123-985-8) and Devian White (112-918-6).
#1 Loch Raven (7-2) v #8 Largo (2-7) – The Loch Raven Raiders are looking for their first playoff win since 1981, when they finished as a state runner-up, losing to Richard Montgomery, 14-0, in the Class A (now 3A) state title game.
#2 Randallstown (6-3) v #7 Surrattsville (3-6) – The Rams, now in the 1A classification, are the only Baltimore County school ever to win a 4A title, winning two, in ‘84 and ‘90. The Rams are making their 20th playoff appearance, tough their last post-season win was in 2004.
#3 Gwynn Park (6-3, #34) v #6 Pikesville (3-6) – The Panthers of Pikesville stand little chance versus the Yellowjackets, winners of 6 of their last 7 games. All 3 Yellowjackets losses were to MPSSAA top 25 teams – St Charles, Douglass, and Potomac.
#1 Dunbar (8-1, #15) v #8 Douglass B (3-6) – The Poets possess the greatest playoff winning percentage in MPSSAA history, .817, winning 58 of their 71 post-season games. The Poets will be making their 18th straight post-season appearance, tied for the second longest consecutive streak in MPSSAA history, trailing only Damascus’ current run of 22 years.
#2 Edmondson (7-2) v #7 Francis Scott Key (3-6) – The Red Storm are making their 8th straight playoff appearance, and 10th in the last 12 years. Over the last 8 years, the Red Storm have won 9 playoff games.
#3 Lewis (7-2) v #6 Forest Park (4-5) – The Falcons, the Baltimore City Division II champs, defeated the Foresters, 36-12, in the opening week of the season. The Falcons have won a playoff game in each of the last three seasons.
#4 Lake Clifton (6-3) v #5 Carver (5-4) – The Lakers have won just one playoff game in ten post-season appearances. The Lakers lost to Lewis, 14-6, in the regional semifinal round last year.
#1 Cambridge – SD (7-2) v #8 Havre de Grace (2-7) – Havre de Grace has seen a fall from grace this year, yielding just two wins, after winning four straight regional championships, and winning a total of 41 games from ‘15-18.
#2 Patterson Mill (7-2) v #7 Joppatowne (3-6) – After starting 4-0, Patterson Mill stumbled into the playoffs, winning just two of their last five games, yet nabbed the 2 seed in the region. The Huskies knocked off the Mariners last Friday, 35-14.
#3 Perryville (5-4) v #6 Kent County (4-5) – The Perryville Panthers have made five post-season appearances in the last eight years, including finishing as 1A state finalists in 2011. The Panthers Emarion Hampton has amassed 1,132 all-purpose yards.
#4 Col. Richardson (5-4) v #5 Fallston (4-5) – Fallston is making its first post-season appearance in five years. The Cougars Justin Wiegand has thrown for 11 touchdowns, while tallying 10 sacks on the other side of the ball.
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.