No. 5 Franklin (5-1, 3-0 Baltimore County) at Milford Mill (5-1, 3-0)
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Coaches: Anthony Burgos, Franklin; Reggie White, Milford Mill
Last meeting: Franklin won, 28-7, last season in Class 3A North Region final
KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH
Franklin: WR Assanti Kearney, Sr.; QB Larry Smith, Sr.; DL-OL Calvin Carroll, Sr.; LB Jay Thompson, Jr.; WR-DB Duane Davis, Sr.; OL-DL Isaiah Lewis, Soph.
Milford Mill: WR-DB Ugo Obasi, Sr.; RB Troy Scott Jr., Sr.; OL-DL Nicholas White, Sr.; ATH Desmond Shell, Jr.; QB-DB Brandon Savage, Sr.; OL-DL Glenn Morris, Sr.
KEYS TO VICTORY
The Indians have dominated one of the hottest rivalries in Baltimore County for the past four years, winning seven straight times, including three regional playoff games.
Last season, the Indians won, 24-20, during the regular season and then rolled to a 28-7 win in the regional playoffs en route to the Class 3A state final. The Indians also beat the Millers in the regionals in 2013 and 2014 and went on to win back-to-back state championships.
Since 2008, the Indians and the Millers have played in the regular season and in the playoffs five times. Milford Mill won its only state title in 1987, but the Millers reached the state semifinals in 2012, the last time they beat Franklin.
Burgos, last season’s All-Metro Coach of the Year, said this Millers team reminds him of that 2012 squad.
“They’ve got multiple guys that can really do some good things with the football in their hands,” he said. “In years before, they’ve had good guys, but one or two, and this year when we’ve been doing our scouting report, they have five guys we have to account for at all times. On that 2012 team, they had that many guys who could contribute.”
Among those players are leading receiver Obasi, who averaged 34 yard per catch in a 49-42 win over Perry Hall with two touchdowns, and Shell, who scored three touchdowns in three minutes in a 55-6 win over Randallstown last month.
Although the Indians are young and lost top senior running back Sam Botchway to an injury, they also have a lot of players who can change a game. Smith, who took over the starting job after Emmett Avery II suffered a torn ACL in Week 3, has thrown for 730 yards and 12 touchdowns. Kearney has caught four of those touchdown passes and has 293 receiving yards.
“They always have an exciting high-powered offense. They can get big chunks [of yardage] at you,” White said. “Before Botchway got hurt, they had a nice little running game. Plus with that defense they play a lot of 0 coverage, a lot of 1 coverage. They’re trying to blitz you off the edge and they’ve got a lot of faith that they can lock down certain people.”
Last season, the Indians won the regular-season game in part because they shut down Miford Mill’s big plays and in part because the Millers made too many mistakes, including three turnovers and several fumbled snaps. Obasi caught a touchdown pass to open the game, but the Indians scored 21 before Milford Mill got on the board again.
In the rematch, the Millers also scored first on a Scott run, but on their next drive, defensive end Robert Garrett forced a fumble and linebacker Elijah Solomon raced 32 yards with the recovery to tie the game. The Millers never recovered. White said his team has a mental block when it comes to Franklin, but he’s hoping this group can get past that.
“They’ve got a lot of animosity and a lot of confidence,” White said. “ We talked about this during the off season and I asked some of my mentors how you get over a mental block with a certain team. I called down to my coach at [North Carolina] A&T and asked him and I reached out to a couple pro coaches and they say you’ve just got to go out there and you’ve almost got to brainwash your team that the past is the past. It’s a new year and what they have done doesn’t mean what they’re gonna do.”
Burgos said one of the keys for Franklin to win the Baltimore County Division I game will be to match the Millers’ intensity and have the young players execute in one of their biggest county games.
Both teams must limit big plays which, with a lot of multi-talented athletes on both sides, could easily make the difference.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
— Reginald Lewis at Forest Park, Friday, 3 p.m.
— Caravel (Del.) at No. 6 Howard, Friday, 7 p.m.
— No. 3 Archbishop Spalding at No. 8 Calvert Hall, Saturday, noon
Ravens RISE football showdown Week 7: City College at Mervo
Who: City College at No. 14 Mervo
When: Friday, 6 p.m.
Records: The City College Knights are 2-3 overall and coming off an 18-8 loss to Digital Harbor last Friday. Mergenthaler Vocational, 4-2, beat Patterson, 41-6, last Saturday. The Mustangs are ranked No. 14 in The Sun poll.