In this week's edition of the Howard County Times I previewed the upcoming Aberdeen-River Hill 3A state semifinal football game, Friday at 7 p.m. at River Hill. In that story I got into some of the background behind the game, but on Tuesday I got a chance to talk to each coach and get detailed statistics from each team. So here's a point-by-point look at each 3A state semifinalist, including way more info than you probably care to know:
Ab: Austin Bonsall, 102 rushes, 702 yards (6.9 per carry, long of 45), 8 TDs
RH: Aaron Wells, 167-1066 (6.4, 60), 18 TDs; Evan Griffin, 60-509 (8.5, 55), 6 TDs
Ab: Christian Carpenter, 64 catches, 1112 yards (17.4 per catch, long of 75), 14 TDs; Chavez Cheatham, 32-701 (21.9 per catch, 82 long), 10 TDs; Bonsall, 18-345 (19.2 per catch, 56 long), 2 TDs
RH: Randall Lawson, 6-109 (18.2 per catch, 50 long), 2 TDs; Wells, 6-77 (12.8 per catch, 18 long), 0 TD
Ab: Kenny Faulcon, 129 completions, 189 attempts (68.3 percent), 2319 yards, 26 TDs, 8 INTs
RH: Raamah Vaughn, 24/44 (54.5), 493 yards, 6 TDs, 3 INTs
Leading kickoff returners
Ab: Bonsall, long of 82, 2 TDs
RH: Griffin, 12, 323 yards (26.9 per return), long of 79, 1 TD
Leading punt returners
Ab: Bonsall, long of 60, 2 TDs
RH: Griffin, 10, 148 yards (14.8 per return), long of 40, 0 TD
Leading place kickers
RH: Davis Grove, 2/3 FGs, long of 25, 42 XPs
RH: Griffin, 24, 818 yards (34.1 per punt), long of 58
Ab: Carpenter, 128 (86 solo, 42 assisted); Brenton Barnes, 109 (62, 47); Dante Warfield, 65 (40, 25)
RH: Riley Davis, 114 (54, 60); Emmett Brew, 105 (58, 47); Jason Johnson, 84 (44, 40); Ryan Higgins, 82 (50, 32)
Ab: Quintel Kelly, 8; Nicholas Brown, 3
RH: Higgins, 10; Alec Rau, 8.5; Brew, 5.5
Ab: Carpenter, 6; Cheatham, 5
RH: Lawson, 7 (2 TDs); Justin Arn, 3
Ab: 39 (14 seniors, 15 juniors, 9 sophomores, 1 freshman: WR/DB Kion Gibson)
RH: 34 (18 seniors, 15 juniors, 1 sophomore: G/NG Logan Kirby)
Ab: 5'10.7" (Tallest: 6'4" senior OL/DL Devin Kossakowski. Shortest: 5'7" junior FB/LB Steven Turner)
RH: 5'10.7" (Tallest: 6'5" junior T/DE Charlie Wilson. Shortest: (tie) 5'6" junior SE/CB Jon Matsunaga and senior RB/CB Auctavius Bennett)
Ab: 205.3 pounds. (Heaviest: 310-pound Kossakowski. Lightest: 150-pound junior RB/DB Marquis Harris)
RH: 191.2 pounds. (Heaviest: 250-pound senior T/DE Jason Johnson. Lightest: 140-pound Matsunaga)
Ab: +225 (394-169, 2 shut outs)
RH: +278 (371-93, 2 shut outs)
What they're saying
Aberdeen first-year coach Johnny Brooks, on River Hill:
"They are what they've always been: tough, well disciplined, very well coached."
On the Hawks players:
"Line play is really exceptional, quarterback (Raamah Vaughn) is very talented, running back (Aaron Wells) is a tough, hard nosed kid, and then the skill kids in the back are very well schooled back there, the safety looks like he knows what he's doing, so they all jump out at me."
On River Hill's schedule:
"We don't really know a lot about Howard County football, but just glancing we know the names River Hill and Atholton stand out a lot. They lost to Atholton earlier in the season, came back and got them, and we did the same thing (against North Harford), we're traveling on similar paths."
On going from a 1-9 season last year to a 10-2 season:
"It's my first year there, so it didn't really turn around to me. Same kids, they had great attitudes so they came out there willing to buy into what we were trying to teach them and my coaching staff did a great job from day one. They just showed support and wanted to win and it's starting to show on the field."
On his players:
"My quarterback (Kenny Faulcon) is doing a great job. This is his first year ever playing quarterback and he's putting up some really great numbers. Running back is ... kind of by committee although one kid is stepping up, Austin Bonsall is running well. Another receiver (in addition to Carpenter) I have, track kid (Chavez Cheatam), he's doing quite well, first year playing since 9th grade, he's a senior as well. The line play has been great, Brenton Barnes up front doing a tremendous job and Anthony Russ, Phillip Peregino, so a lot of people have been doing some great things."
On having to travel 60 miles from Aberdeen to River Hill:
"I'm hoping that it doesn't even weight into it, we were 1-9 last year so we're just glad to be in the dance, whether we're playing home or in the middle or away we're just happy to be where we are. Maybe they'll get a little extra servings (of Thanksgiving dinner) and slow them down a little bit ... We kind of consider ourselves the underdogs, we haven't been in the dance in so long, so we're just happy to be there and we just want to have some fun."
River Hill 12th year coach Brian Van Deusen, on Aberdeen:
"Watching a lot of tape on Aberdeen, they're tough, very athletic, very balanced run/pass. They're probably the best passing team we've seen this year. We've got to get some pressure on the quarterback and make sure our coverage is down and try to shut down No. 4 (Carpenter), he's a pretty special player."
On WR/DB Christian Carpenter, who has gotten looks from West Virginia and Syracuse:
"He's 6'2", 185, pretty good height and very athletic, very quick, good jumping ability. He goes up and gets the ball. A lot of fade passes, a lot of post passes, so we can't give the quarterback time to sit back there and find him. We've got to get after the quarterback and give him some different looks in the coverage."
On River Hill's pass rushers:
Linemen "Jason (Johnson) and Logan Kirby and Alec Rau have been doing real well and with our linebackers (Stephan Osong, Emmett Brew, Davis Grove, Riley Davis and Ryan Higgins) we're blitzing usually two of those guys every play so we get pressure from different angles and try to confuse the line or give them different looks and mix it up."
"I've been very impressed with him. He's a big kid, strong arm, he's got a presence in the pocket, and he's able to sit back there and make plays. He's also pretty good on his feet so when he does get pressure, he's able to get out there and make some plays running the ball. He's done a nice job for them."
On how Aberdeen compares to some other Howard County teams:
"They're mostly an I-team, so in our league we see a lot of I between Hebron and Glenelg probably and Hammond, but as far as the balance that they have we don't really see that. Most of our teams in our county are either all pass or all run, (Aberdeen is) almost 50/50 as far as yardage, so that makes them tougher to defend. They've thrown for almost 2,000 yards. Atholton threw for probably just over 1,000 but I guess our county this year was more of a running county."
On recovering from a mid-season two-game slide to Atholton and Hammond:
"We got off to a rough start. We knew we were going to have a pretty good team, but we got banged up, we had six starters out for a couple of games and the turnovers, you can't make turnovers and mistakes against good teams. We had a tough early part of the season with Reservoir and Long Reach and Atholton and Hammond and then Wilde Lake, so we were able to recover from those losses and get back on track and just keep that focus on improving. We've done that, and we've been playing well the last eight games so hopefully we can keep that going."
On securing home-field advantage in the state semifinals even after finishing the regular season 8-2:
"We didn't really see that coming but fortunately Damascus and Seneca Valley, originally, and North Harford lost, so we were able to jump into that No. 2 seed. Anytime we can get another game at home it's great. With this week and Thanksgiving and the day off of school (Aberdeen) can leave plenty early, and not having school that day makes it a little easier on them, but I'd certainly prefer to play at home, just that normal routine."