When: Friday, 4 p.m.
Coaches: Kyle Schmitt, Archbishop Spalding; Biff Poggi, Gilman
Last meeting: Gilman won, 49-2, last season
Archbishop Spalding: QB-FS Zach Abey, Sr. (135 carries, 944 yards, 14 TDS; 48-for-91 passing for 699 yards, 8 TDs, 4 INTs; 22 tackles, 4 INTs), WR-CB Ronnie Beswick, Sr. (22 catches, 401 yards, 6 TDs; 10 carries for 81 yards; 16 tackles, 2 INTs), RB Avery Simmons, Sr. (113 carries, 656 yards, 8 TDs) TE-LB Tom Coffey (8 catches for 112 yards; 19 tackles, 1 INT), OL-DL Melvin Gowl, Sr. (11 tackles, 1 sack, 1 fumble rec.), LB Jack Havens, Sr. (30 tackles, 3 fumble recoveries), OL-LB Zach Hill (32 tackles,1 sack).
Gilman: QB Kai Locksley, Jr. (463 yards rushing, 8 TDs; 551 yards passing, 3 TDs); DE-LB Melvin Keihn, Sr. (51 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles); OT Chibuzo Ukandu, Sr. (leads team in pancake blocks); CB-WR Troy Vincent Jr., Sr. (25 tackles, 5 pass breakups, 5 INT, 1 TD); LB Chase Campbell, Sr. (32 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 fumble rec.); WR Jelani Roberts, Jr. (12 catches, 155 yards; 7 punt returns, 31.3 avg. per return, 4 TDs)
KEYS TO VICTORY
After winning its first two Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference games by an average of 39 points, Gilman could face a more of a challenge against the Cavaliers, who are in a three-way tie for first place in the conference with the Greyhounds and McDonogh.
Archbishop Spalding suffered its only loss, a 21-14 setback to Bullis, a month ago. Since then, they've beaten Loyola and Mount St. Joseph and pulled out a 35-34 win over St. Frances two weeks ago.
The two-time defending A Conference champion Greyhounds are extremely athletic and big up front but, with young players in many key positions, they are still growing up. Despite that youth, the Greyhounds are battle tested from opening the season with a 20-14 win over Good Counsel and then taking losses to nationally-ranked Manatee from Florida, and Paramus in New Jersey.
"We're going to need to play smart," Poggi said. The Cavaliers "disguise a lot of things well on offense and defense, and Kyle is doing a terrific job with them, so we have to be smart. That's one thing when you're playing with a bunch of seniors and it's something different when you're not. This is a very young [Gilman] team. The thing about Spalding is they're a predominantly senior team."
The Greyhounds offense might not have as many familiar names as in years past, but it spins around one of the top junior recruits in the county, Locksley. The 6 foot 4, 200-pound dual-threat quarterback has offers from Alabama, Ohio State and Wisconsin, among others.
Although Gilman still runs a lot behind senior Bijan Rhett and sophomores Dorian Maddox and Antonio Dupree, in last week's 47-0 win over Loyola Locksley completed passes to 11 Greyhounds, throwing for 170 yards and two touchdowns.
"Kai Locksley is one of the most athletic football players I've seen," Schmitt said. "I saw [Oakland Raiders quarterback] Terrelle Pryor play basketball in high school and I've seen Kai work out … and he's in that mold. And [Gilman is] big and athletic up front. Ellison Jordan, the tackle, is extremely active and Melvin Keihn is as good a linebacker as we've played so … I haven't slept much this week trying to find ways to move the football and our defensive coordinator hasn't either trying to find ways to stop them."
The Greyhounds, who have not lost to an A Conference foe in three years, should have edges in speed and athleticism at a lot of positions. They are also bigger up front, something that could wear Spalding down, especially if its defense has to spend a lot of time of the field.
Gilman could have its hands full, as well, trying to stop a different kind of quarterback in the Cavaliers' Abey. A 6 foot 2, 205-pound workhorse who is also an A Conference champion wrestler, the Buffalo-bound Abey scored 11 of the Cavaliers' 14 touchdowns in the last three weeks. He is one of the area's top rushing quarterbacks.
While the Cavaliers don't have to worry about creating opportunities to get the ball into their playmaker's hands, they will need production from more than one source with Simmons, Beswick and Coffey likely to play key roles.
"We've got to try to make it our type of game," Schmitt said. "If they have big plays happening all over the field on special teams and their offense, we're going to be in trouble. We have to find ways to shorten the game and possess the football and try to pull something out at the end."
twitter.com/kdunnsunCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun