Dunbar Poets quarterback William Crest

Dunbar Poets quarterback William Crest (Karl Merton Ferron / The Baltimore Sun / November 19, 2011)

When: Friday, 6 p.m.

Coaches: Larry Mitchell, Patterson Clippers; Lawrence Smith, Dunbar Poets

Last meeting: Dunbar won, 12-0, last season

KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH


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Patterson: RB-LB Sherrod Hawkes, Sr. (40 carries for 289 yards, 4 TDs; 6 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss); RB-DB Tynard Barfield, Jr. (9 carries for 97 yards, 2 TDs, 4 catches for 94 yards, 2 TDs; 2 tackles); LB-DE Khalil Parker, Sr. (19 tackles, 8 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles); OL-DL Mack Egborebhe, Sr. (12 tackles, 3 for a loss, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles); RB-LB Mautice Greene, Jr. (12 carries for 66 yards, 1 TD; 2 catches for 18 yards, 1 TD; 11 tackles,7 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble); RB-LB Atif Ali, Sr. (15 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, 1 INT; 5 carries for 15 yards, 1 TD)

Dunbar: QB William Crest, Sr. (33-for-54 passing for 580 yards, 5 TDs; 20 carries for 162 yards, 2 TDs); RB Coleman Blackston, Sr. (47 carries for 458 yards, 4 TDs); LB-RB Aaron Savage, Sr. (33 tackles; 28 carries for 222 yards, 2 TDs); WR-KR Dominic Miller, Sr. (17 catches for 310 yards, 4 TDs; 1 punt return for TD); WR Quante Cornish, Sr. (11 catches for 89 yards, 1 TD); SS Eddie Nelson, Sr. (31 tackles, 3 INT, 1 returned for TD); DL Raymond Jackson, Sr. (9 tackles for a loss); CB Daquan Hayes, Sr. (19 tackles, 9 pass breakups).

KEYS TO VICTORY

If there's one team in Baltimore that Dunbar coach Lawrence Smith is most wary of, it's Patterson.

"Patterson has always been our nemesis," Smith said. "I've probably lost six games in my career and two of them have been to Patterson. They are not taken lightly."

Smith, in his eighth season since taking over for the late Ben Eaton, has only six losses against city competition (one by forfeit), but Patterson is the only team to beat Dunbar twice in that stretch. While the Poets have won the last two meetings, the Clippers won in 2009 and 2010.

The Clippers are on the rise again under second-year coach Larry Mitchell and should be one of the city teams most likely to challenge the Poets, who have won three straight Class 1A state championships and seven of the past nine before jumping to Class 2A this fall.

Both teams are 1-0 in the Baltimore's Division I heading into Friday night's game. Dunbar is the defending division champ.

In last fall's game, the Clippers stopped the Poets on their first drive, but turned the ball over on the punt return. The Poets answered with a touchdown.

"We made some key mistakes in the beginning of the game that changed the whole complexion of the game," Mitchell said. "We muffed that punt on the 10-yard line, they recovered it inside our red zone and punched it in. They didn't score again until the end of the game, and that had a lot to do with play calling. We were trying to do a bunch of things to try to score with time running out."

Mitchell points to the Clippers' experience up front as a potential game changer for his team.

"I think the difference in the game is going to be how we play it up front," he said. "Up front I think they're inexperienced. We're very experienced up front with Mack Egborebhe and Khalil Parker. [The Poets] have a whole lot of experience with their key positions like the quarterback Crest and Blackston as a fullback and their linebacker Savage, but other than that, they ain't the Dunbar of old."

The Clippers will look to establish their running game with a host of ball carriers led by Hawkes, who averaged about 25 carries a game last season and has 40 carries in the first three games this year.

The Poets have a top-notch running game led by Blackston, who ran for more than 1,700 yards last season, but they also have one of the area's best quarterbacks in Crest, who is headed to West Virginia.

After falling to a tough Mansfield, Mass., team, 29-26,in their season-opener, the Poets have outscored their last two opponents 94-12. The Clippers have allowed just one touchdown in opening with three wins, although Mervo gave them a scare in an 8-6 season opener.

Smith said the key for his team will be to take command early.

"You can say [the Clippers] haven't played the type of competition we have, with us playing Wise and Fort Hill in preseason and opening with a team like Mansfield, but you can't let a team like that hang around. They're going to come in with confidence and you have to impose your will on them. When a team hangs around and hangs around and hangs around, they really feel like they belong."

OTHER GAMES TO WATCH

Loyola at No. 15 Archbishop Spalding, Friday, 7 p.m.

Centennial at No. 2 River Hill, Friday, 7 p.m.

No. 9 Franklin at Perry Hall, Friday, 7 p.m.

No. 6 McDonogh at No. 14 Mount St. Joseph, Saturday, 1 p.m.

St. Frances at No. 7 Calvert Hall, Saturday, 2 p.m.

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

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