No. 1 St. Frances (5-0, 2-0) vs. No. 2 McDonogh (4-1, 1-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Utz Field, Patterson Park
Coaches: Biff Poggi and Henry Russell, St. Frances; Dom Damico, McDonogh
Last meeting: St. Frances won, 34-20, last season
KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH
St. Frances: DE Eyabi Anoma, Sr.; WR Randy Fields, Sr.; OL Jaelyn Duncan, Sr.; QB Jalon Jones, Jr.; LB-TE Shane Lee, Jr.; RB Joachim Bangda, Jr.; LB-RB Osman Savage, Soph.
McDonogh: QB-DB DeJuan Ellis, Sr.; DL-OL PJ Mustipher, Sr.; DB-WR BJ Farrare, Sr.; DE-FB Chris Smith, Sr., S Darrius Pickett, Sr.; OL-DL D’Von Ellies, Jr, S-WR Curtis Jacobs, Soph.
KEYS TO VICTORY
The biggest showdown in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference features teams with big-play potential on both sides of the ball. Last year, the Panthers knocked McDonogh out of the No. 1 spot and went on to win the conference title with a 6-0 record. This fall, playoffs return to the A Conference, so the teams are jockeying for seedings in the four-team field.
Last week, St. Frances rolled past Loyola Blakefield, 65-0. The previous week, Bangda ran for all four touchdowns before No. 5 Calvert Hall got on the board in a 28-7 Panthers win. McDonogh, which has lost only to DeMatha, 17-14, defeated No. 3 Archbishop Spalding, 17-6, last week in its A Conference opener thanks in part to three interceptions by Farrare.
Both teams have a lot of offensive options with dual-threat quarterbacks, several running backs — led by Bangda and McDonogh junior Jabriel Johnson — and a fleet of wide receivers, including Fields, an All-Metro first-team selection last season committed to West Virginia, and Farrare. Duncan, a transfer from Southern Maryland committed to Maryland, is an Under Armour All-American and each team boasts one on defense — Anoma, who has not committed but is rated the No. 2 defensive end in the country by ESPN, and Mustipher, an All-Metro first-team player last season committed to Penn State.
Defensively, both teams have been stingy with St. Frances yielding just two touchdowns — one to Bishop Sullivan (Va.) and the late one to Calvert Hall. McDonogh has give up 48 points, but only DeMatha has scored more than one touchdown against the Eagles.
For the Panthers defense, two players will be the focal points while watching out for the Eagles other talented players.
“You’ve got to find a way to stop Ellis [Virginia Tech] and Farrare on both sides of the ball,” Russell said. “Ellis makes plays with his legs and his arm and Farrare is very dangerous. He can score from anywhere. They also have a good running game. Jabriel Johnson runs the ball real well and Ellis can hurt you. [Senior running back Giovanni] Procaccini played well against Spalding too, so they’ve got a lot of guys who can do things.”
One advantage for St. Frances is depth. That’s one reason Damico said he doesn’t see a weakness in the Panthers defense.
“They’re very fast and very aggressive and very big up front. They’re strong on all levels on the defense. … They’re not just playing four kids on the ‘D’ line. They’re rotating eight kids on the ‘D’ line, so they stay fresh. It’s difficult to beat them, not only because of their depth, but the quality of their depth is different than what we have. Our top kids are going to fight like heck for as long as they can. It’s been good enough so far this year. Hopefully, it holds up again.”
Both teams have played tough schedules although St. Frances missed the chance to play IMG, the No. 2 team in USA Today’s Super 25, because the Panthers couldn’t make the trip to Florida the weekend Hurricane Irma hit. The game will be made up later.
St. Frances is ranked No. 1 in the state poll with McDonogh at No. 4. The Panthers are No. 22 nationally in USA Today’s Super 25 while the MaxPreps Freeman computer rankings have St. Frances at No. 12 and McDonogh at No. 43 in the country.
“It’s is definitely a big game,” Russell said. “Last year, they were No. 1 in The Sun poll and we were a little bit below them. This year, we’re 1 and they’re 2, so that always helps with the excitement. It’s a conference game and this year it will probably have a big impact on the seeding at the end of the year. It will be interesting to see how that shakes out, but you want to keep winning and not leave it up to chance.”
Ravens RISE Showdown Week 6: Broadneck at Old Mill
Who: No. 4 Broadneck at No. 9 Old Mill
Where: Old Mill
When: Friday, 6:30 p.m.
Records: The Broadneck Bruins are 5-0 and ranked No. 4 in The Baltimore Sun varsity poll. The Bruins are coming off a 42-21 win over Northeast. The Old Mill Patriots are 4-1 and ranked No. 9 in The Sun poll. The Patriots are coming off a 49-26 win over North County.
Showdown skinny: Each week of the high school football regular season, fans will vote for an area high school football matchup to be featured by the Ravens and The Baltimore Sun. The selected game each week will receive visits from the Ravens mascot, Poe, and the Ravens cheerleaders (subject to availability), and the school’s stadium will be outfitted with Ravens banners and flags. In addition, $1,000 will be donated to each participating school’s athletic department. Bonus prizes will also be awarded for games that reach a significant total in the voting poll. A new poll is posted on baltimoresun.com each week on Wednesdays at 9 a.m. and closes the following Tuesday at 7 p.m. To vote, click here.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
— No. 11 Dunbar at Poly, Friday, 6 p.m.
— No. 13 Havre de Grace at Elkton, Friday, 7 p.m.