Here are our previews of the the York-James Monroe and Park View of South Hill-Lafayette Region I Division 3 playoff semifinals set for Friday. We'll throw the King George-Smithfield game (Saturday at 1:30 p.m.) on the blog sometime on Friday.
REGION I DIVISION 3 SEMIFINALS
YORK (9-2) VS. JAMES MONROE (9-1)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Maury Stadium in Fredericksburg.
THE BUZZ: York looks to avenge a 45-7 defeat to James Monroe 45-7. The Yellow Jackets are good again – hey they’re 9-1 – but they are not the team-for-the-ages last year’s Division 3 state runnerup was. Graduation and the loss to injury of three players has depleted the 2011 skill group that could’ve medaled in the 4x100 in London. What’s left is a comparatively average offense, but one still averaging 33.5 points. JM’s rushing stats – team leader Sean Bates has 647 yards – won’t strike fear into anyone. But She’Mar Ellis’ receiving numbers (26 receptions, 490 yards) are evidence the Falcons, an athletic defense allowing only 176 yards per game, will again have to fear the big plays that buried them a year ago. Defensively, JM is Smithfield fast but not big. York counters with a huge offensive line, led by James Madison recruit Cody Hendrickson, that could give be an advantage. York QB Austin Norman threw for 175 yards in the first-round playoff win over Poquoson, but must be on point or JM’s fast, athletic secondary will turn any mistakes into scoring opportunities.
THE PICK: York 21-20.
PARK VIEW (9-2) VS. LAFAYETTE (9-1)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Wanner Stadium.
RADIO: On the Internet at Rewind 101.9 or on iphone at 1019.
THE BUZZ: Lafayette won last year’s meeting 57-21 but, like York-JM, this one should be closer because Park View is more experienced, more diversified offensively and better defensively. Still, the Rams are 3-0 against mutual opponents (Brunswick, Jamestown and Warhill) with a scoring margin of 124-38, compared to Park View’s 2-2 mark with 103-90 margin, so there’s little doubt about the favorite. Both teams run the Wing-T, and the Rams are averaging 37 points and in the neighborhood of 350 yards rushing from theirs. Park View is scoring about the same number of points (34.7) with a little more run-pass balance (242 ypg rushing/112 ypg passing). Park View’s QB, sophomore Ben Cliborne (1,047 yards passing, 17 TD, 3 interceptions) is efficient if not spectacular. At 6-3, 220 pounds, Dragons fullback Jason Baskerville (794 yards rushing) is a load to bring down, but a shoulder injury has hampered his effectiveness some this year. Lafayette counters with regional Player of the Year candidate Jahlil Green (1,442 yards rushing, 18 TDs), a speedster whose numbers would be bigger had the Rams not won so many games by large margins.
THE PICK: Lafayette 35-14.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun