Owings Mills eyeing playoff berth in football after strong start

Owings Mills hasn't made the playoffs since 1997, but the Eagles are becoming more optimistic about a trip there every week.

Owings Mills boasts a 4-1 record with five games remaining on the schedule.

Eagles' coach Steve Lurz gets excited talking about the Eagles' postseason prospects. They missed the playoffs by a point in the standings last year, a game in 2010 and two games the previous season.

"They are very hungry and anxious to get in," he said. "I have 26 seniors on this team. They have been playing football for me for a long time. They were successful as a jayvee group. It has just carried over. They are starting to leave a little bit of a legacy or expectation."

You can't blame Lurz or the Eagles if they look ahead to the remainder of the schedule.

Owings Mills goes on the road to play Western Tech, Pikesville and Lansdowne before closing with Joppatowne and New Town.

The Eagles have beaten Overlea, Sparrows Point, Loch Raven and Patapsco while losing to Archbishop Curley.

"We should be 8-2 or 9-1," Lurz said. "It's probably our best start since 2000. Eight wins would definitely get us in. Seven wins should put us in."

Good luck finding a glaring weakness on the Eagles. They're putting up plenty of points on offense, much-improved on defense and getting big plays from special teams.

Senior quarterback Shane Gaines, a three-year starter, sparks the spread-option offense. He's working with a deep backfield, which features seniors Jawon Johnson, Malik Williams and Demetrius Johnson.

There's plenty of speed and talent at wide receiver with junior Corey Hill and senior Eddie Williams. Jawon Johnson also plays wide receiver.

"Offensively, we are more explosive than we have been in the past," Lurz said. "We have a lot of kids that can make plays."

Lurz can say that about the defense, too. The Eagles are giving up an average of 11 points per game.

Senior linebackers Kristian Cullins, Kenjuan Jones and Myles Traore spearhead the defense. The unit recorded shutouts in routs of both Overlea and Patapsco.

"The linebacking corps has played a lot better and it has helped the defense stop teams," Lurz said.

Owings Mills dominated Patapsco (3-2).

Jawon Johnson had three touchdowns. He rushed for one, caught another and returned a punt for a score. Gaines threw two touchdown passes and Tyler Bankert ran back a punt for a score.

The Eagles led 19-0 at halftime, but the advantage could have been bigger if they hadn't lost three fumbles.

Lurz could have forget about the turnovers with all the big plays.

Demetrius Johnson got Owings Mills rolling with a 13-yard run with 3:43 remaining in the first quarter.

Malik Williams increased the Eagles lead to 13-0 in the middle of the second quarter on a 26-yard run.

"We are running a new offense this year," said Lurz, whose team is averaging 27 points per game. "And our offense is clicking. It's a spread-option offense like Oregon runs."

Johnson finished the first-half scoring with a 53-yard punt return.

In the second half, Gaines led the offense, tossing touchdown passes to Williams (32 yards) and Jawon Johnson (47).

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