Poly (0-1) at No. 11 Mervo (2-0)
When: Friday, 6 p.m.
Coaches: Dwayne Green, Poly; Patrick Nixon, Mervo
Last meeting: Mervo won, 25-14, last season
KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH
Poly: QB DeVone Stubbs, Sr.; WR-DB Tyrese Chambers, Sr.; WR-DB Quron Winder, Sr.; RB-DB K’Ron Hines, Sr.; TE-LB Tyree Bethel, Sr.; LB Myron Matthews, Sr.
Mervo: RB-CB Rykim Lemon, Sr.; QB Carlos Davis, Sr.; WR-DB Corey Peterkin, Soph.; WR-LB Terry Jones Jr., Jr.; OL Robert Horsey, Jr.; DE James Carter, Sr.
KEYS TO VICTORY
Poly hasn’t beaten the Mustangs in four years, but the way the Engineers offense played against a tough Middletown team last week makes this a much more intriguing matchup for defending Baltimore City Division I champion Mervo.
Stubbs threw for 321 yards and was 15-for-21 in the 27-22 loss to Middletown and he has two strong receivers in Chambers, who scored on an 80-yard catch-and-run last week, and Winder.
In recent years, Mervo’s strength has been its defense as the Mustangs have earned three straight playoff berths in the tough 4A North. Last year, they defeated Sherwood before falling to Howard in the regional title game. This season, however, Nixon believes his offense has caught up to the defense with a solid line and veteran skill players.
Davis was 8-for-13 passing for 160 yards and three touchdowns and he also ran for a score in last week’s 36-26 win at William Penn, the No. 4 team in Delaware. Veterans Lemon and Jones, as well as transfer Peterkin, give Davis a lot of offensive options. The addition of Peterkin has helped while Jones, who recovered from surgery to repair a torn meniscus last season, missed last week’s game after suffering a bone bruise near the other knee in a game against Dulaney. Nixon said he’s day-to-day but is hopeful Jones can play against Poly.
The Mervo defense remains solid, especially with linemen Carter, Tim Stephens, Karl Cromartie, Jermaine Miles and linebacker Keith Williams leading the way. Stephens, however, might miss the game with a knee injury.
The Engineers, who finished 5-5 last season and haven’t made the playoffs since 2011, had a chance to beat Middletown on their final drive, but the Knights picked off Stubbs. Green was still happy with his team’s resilience and with the performance on both sides of the ball, including linemen Mervyn Thomas-Crawford, Brian Dunstan and Brandon Jones, who also plays linebacker.
“We can score,” said Green, whose Engineers have a lot of speed. “We have an explosive offense, but the challenge in the past has been finishing, making the big plays. We don’t have a problem making the big play this year. With that and our defense being as fast and consistent as they are, I think that gives us our best chance.”
Neither coach expects anything tricky from the other. They’ve seen film and know what to expect, so it all comes down to executing the game plan.
“Our key is to stay focused and handle our business,” Nixon said. “We know what they’re going to do and they know what we’re going to do. We play each other every year. It’s a conference game... For us, it comes down to execution. We’re at a point now where all the games are big and it’s not about the moment or how big the game is, it’s about us doing what we’ve got to do.”
Green said that even though this is the city Division I opener for both teams, it is a big game. With Mervo, Dunbar and Edmondson again looking strong and Poly and City aiming to make inroads, the league, also including Digital Harbor, Douglass and Patterson, could be extremely competitive this fall.
“I think the biggest thing for us is to not allow the implications of the game to get in our way,” Green said. “Our focus plays a huge part. The hype started Friday, so keeping the kids focused and not getting into the hype of it all and staying grounded, we can be in the game and as long as we’re in the game, that gives us an opportunity to pull it out.”
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
— No. 9 Meade at No. 10 Old Mill, Friday, 6:30, p.m.
— No. 1 St. Frances at Don Bosco Prep (N.J.), Friday, 7, p.m.
— Good Counsel at No. 2 Archbishop Spalding, Friday, 7 p.m.
— No. 3 McDonogh vs. DeMatha at PG Sports and Learning Complex, Friday, 7 p.m.
Ravens RISE football showdown Week 3
Who: Wilde Lake vs. Long Reach
Where: Long Reach
When: Tonight, 7
Records: Wilde Lake is 1-1 after falling to Atholton, 27-7, last Friday. In Week 1, the Wildecats defeated Hammond, 41-6. Long Reach improved its record to 2-0 after shutting out Hammond, 23-0, last Friday. The Lightning won a thriller, 29-28, over Oakland Mills in the season’s opening game on Sept. 1.