As the high school football playoffs start this weekend, here are seven games to keep an eye on this weekend.
Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association
A Conference semifinals
NO. 1 ST. FRANCES (10-0)
VS. NO. 7 MCDONOGH (6-4)
When: Sunday, noon
Coaches: Biff Poggi, Henry Russell, St. Frances; Dom Damico, McDonogh
Last meeting: St. Frances won, 28-0, on Oct. 6.
Outlook: St. Frances finished the regular season 6-0 for the second straight year but will need a couple more wins for the conference title this fall as playoffs return for the first time in five years. The Panthers, ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 13 in USA Today’s Super 25, have outscored their opposition by an average of 35.4 points. They have six shutouts, including three in the A Conference, and have allowed just 45 points. Only one team has scored more than a touchdown on them — Mount Saint Joseph in a 37-22 game two weeks ago. In the regular-season win over McDonogh, defensive back Terrell Smith picked off four passes. The Eagles will have to cut out the turnovers to have a chance against the Panthers, who have more blue-chip players and more depth than any other team in the conference. They have a lot of offensive weapons, led by QB Jalon Jones and RB Joachim Bangda, and a huge line that includes Under Armour All-American Jaelyn Duncan. The Eagles have a balanced offense with RB Jabriel Johnson along with QB DeJuan Ellis, who has several key targets. Each team has an Under Armour All-American on defense — St. Frances DE Eyabi Anoma and McDonogh DT PJ Mustipher.
NO. 13 GILMAN (4-6)
VS. NO. 4 CALVERT HALL (6-4)
When: Sunday, 3 p.m.
Coaches: Tim Holley, Gilman; Donald Davis, Calvert Hall
Last meeting: Gilman won, 35-28, on Oct. 6.
Outlook: Gilman needed a win last week over McDonogh to earn a berth in the playoffs just a year after finishing 1-5. They got it, 24-21, and emerged from a five-way tie for second place with the second-seeded spot. The Greyhounds first turned heads this season with their win over Calvert Hall a month ago. Offensively, they have rolled out almost every trick in the book in the past two weeks, including in a 76-58 loss to Archbishop Spalding. Last week, they scored their first touchdown when QB Purnell Hill handed off to WR Piper Bond, who threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to RB Zachary Dixon. They have a lot of offensive weapons, including RB Brandon Madison, who scored three touchdowns in the earlier meeting with Calvert Hall. While Hill threw for 193 yards in that game, Cardinals QB Mike Campbell threw for 194. Calvert Hall overcame a 28-14 deficit to tie the game late, but Gilman blocked a punt with less than a minute to go to set up a short touchdown run by Dixon for the game-winner. Each team also has a highly touted defensive standout — Gilman DE Thomas Booker and Calvert Hall LB Chance Campbell (no relation to Mike).
State regional semifinals
CLASS 4A EAST
NO. 8 MEADE (8-2)
@NO. 2 BROADNECK (10-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Coaches: Albert Jones, Meade; Rob Harris, Broadneck
Last meeting: Broadneck won, 28-21, on Oct. 20.
Outlook: One of two undefeated teams in the region along with second-seeded North Point, Broadneck is aiming for its second regional title in three years. The Bruins average 44.3 points per game and have outscored the opposition by an average of 29.3 points this fall. Only one team has come closer than within three touchdowns of Broadneck — Meade. Just two weeks ago, the Bruins rallied with a couple of touchdowns by Tyrice Watson in the final 3:37. He scored the game-winner, his third touchdown of the game, with 33 seconds left. The Mustangs, who average 31.1 points, also lost to Old Mill early in the season. In the playoffs for the first time in four years, Meade just missed last season. In Jones’ first season two years ago, the Mustangs were 3-7. QB Shane Davis and RB Jason Carcamo lead the Bruins while WR-CB Cameron Smith and RB Darion Straughn lead the Mustangs. Both teams are aiming for their first state titles.
CLASS 4A NORTH
@NO. 3 HOWARD (10-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Coaches: Chris Grier, Sherwood; Ross Hannon, Howard
Last meeting: Howard won, 34-14, two years ago.
Outlook: Howard continues an impressive run under first-year coach Hannon as the Lions aim for a fourth straight regional championship. Two years ago, they reached the state final, but they’re still working to put a second state championship trophy beside the one from 1974. Over the past four years, Howard has gone 46-4 with just one regular-season loss. This year, the Lions share the Howard County title with River Hill (9-0) because the two did not play. Two years ago, Howard scored 28 unanswered point to beat Sherwood in the regional final. Running backs Devin Dawkins and Robert Agbai lead a strong Lions rushing attack behind a solid offensive line while quarterback Robby Porter has the arm to keep defenses honest. The Warriors, who won the last of their three state titles in 2008, are led by quarterback Michael Mbony.
CLASS 3A NORTH
C. MILTON WRIGHT (7-3)
@NO. 10 MILFORD MILL (9-1)
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Coaches: Michael Woods, C. Milton Wright; Reggie White, Milford Mill
Last meeting: First meeting
Outlook: Milford Mill is riding a nine-game winning streak since dropping its opener to Tuscarora. Winners of Baltimore County’s Division I, the Millers defeated archrival Franklin and high-scoring Perry Hall in division action. C. Milton Wright, however, enters the playoffs on a hot streak, too, pushing last year’s 1A finalist Havre de Grace to overtime three weeks ago and beating 2A finalist Elkton last week with a lopsided win over Fallston in between. Milford Mill, which won its only state title in 1987, is aiming for its first regional title since 2012. Millers quarterback Brandon Savage has thrown for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns while running back Troy Scott Jr. has run for more than 800 yards and 17 touchdowns. Quarterback Michael Starkey, who threw for more than 100 yards in the win over Elkton, and Andrew Sherinsky, who ran for nearly 100, lead the Mustangs.
Class 2A East
@HARFORD TECH (10-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Coaches: Matt Feeney, Elkton; Tim Palmer, Harford Tech
Last meeting: Elkton won, 55-21, last year.
Outlook: Harford Tech is having the best season in program history with its first undefeated season and its first trip to the state playoffs. In the opener, however, they run into a Cecil County opponent they have never beaten. The two did not play during the regular season this year, though they played every year between 2011 and 2016. The closest the Cobras came was within 16 points. The Elks, who lost to Walkersville in last year’s state final, dropped two of their last five games, including a 14-13 upset to C. Milton Wright last week. The Cobras beat C. Milton Wright, 23-3, in the third game of the season. Harford Tech is led by FB-LB Kyle Cicone, WR-S Jordan Bright and RB Jalen Dangerfield. DB Mike Matthews and QB-WR Ray Johnson lead the Elks, who won their only state title in 2000. Top running back Raiquon Estep will not play, so LB Tashawn Watters Jr. likely will fill in.
Class 1A North
VS. REGINALD LEWIS (10-0)
When: Saturday, 2 p.m.
Coaches: Craig Rollins, Overlea; Emanuel Glover, Reginald Lewis
Last meeting: Overlea won, 52-16, in 2011.
Outlook: In a showdown of teams with a Falcons mascot, Overlea is in the playoffs for the third time in three years while Reginald Lewis advances with a perfect record for the second straight year. Last fall, Lewis won a playoff game for the first time in program history before losing to Edmondson in the regional final. Based on results against their only common opponent, this game should be close. Lewis edged New Town, 8-6, in the season opener while Overlea lost, 25-24, two weeks ago. QB Jalen Mcmillan and OL-DL Keivon Bowman lead Overlea, which relies on a strong running game behind a veteran line. However, no team in the Baltimore area has been as stingy as Lewis, which has allowed just 33 points and has won by an average of 37.4 points. RB Malik Green, who scored the game-winner against New Town, leads Lewis with 414 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns while LB Kavon Kingsborough has 80 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.