Football state semifinal games to watch
NO. 2 HOWARD (12-0) @ WISE (12-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Coaches: Ross Hannon, Howard; DaLawn Parrish, Wise
Last meeting: Wise won, 48-0, in 2016 state semifinals
Outlook: Parrish, a Howard graduate, has not been kind to his alma mater on the football field the past two years as the Pumas rolled to back-to-back wins over the Lions in the state tournament by a combined 103-6. The top-seeded Pumas are the two-time defending Class 4A champions and are ranked No. 2 in the state poll behind St. Frances. Fourth-seeded Howard hasn’t won a state championship since 1974, but it has reached the title game twice since, most recently in 2015. The Howard County co-champions have a strong running game led by running back Devin Dawkins, who has 172 carries for 1,321 yards and 25 touchdowns while also playing safety and returning kicks and punts. Dawkins’ stats would’ve been higher, but on a team that outscored the opposition, 255-3, in the first half during the regular season, he didn’t play many complete games. Linebacker Ryan Kearney and safety Peyton Jones lead the defense taking on a top-seeded Wise team that averages 43.6 points per game and has a 40-game winning streak. Pumas running back John Oliver has carried the ball 138 times for 1,088 yards and 16 touchdowns. Quarterback Quinton Williams has thrown for 1,703 yards and 26 touchdowns. The winner will face third-seeded Quince Orchard (11-1) or second-seeded North Point (12-0), which knocked out Broadneck last week, for the state championship on Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
LONG REACH (8-3) @ NO. 9 MILFORD MILL (11-1)
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Coaches: Jamie Willis, Long Reach; Reggie White, Milford Mill
Last meeting: First meeting
Outlook: Willis and White have known each other since Willis coached at Pikesville before moving to Long Reach three years ago, so there aren’t many secrets here. Top-seeded Milford Mill has scored almost twice as many points as Long Reach and has explosive players, especially the speedy Desmond Shell, a running back, return man and safety who scored three touchdowns within three minutes in a game earlier this season. He has 856 rushing yards with 10 touchdowns and has 741 return yards with three touchdowns. The Millers average 261 rushing yards per game, led by running back Troy Scott with 1,026 yards and 22 touchdowns. While the Millers have won 11 straight games, the Lightning has won three straight. Still, Long Reach is playing its best football in the playoffs, turning a 14-13 win over Atholton in the regular-season finale into a 37-0 rout in last week’s regional final. The Lightning also has explosive players, including leading rusher KaDarrian Booker, with 248 carries for 1,425 yards and 18 touchdowns. Wide receiver Quran Sims has 40 catches for 662 yards and six touchdowns. The Millers won their only state title in 1987 and are in the semifinals for the first time since 2012. Long Reach hadn’t won a playoff game until this season. The winner will meet second-seeded Linganore (10-2) or third-seeded Oxon Hill (8-4) for the Class 3A championship on Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis.
GLENELG (8-3) @ DAMASCUS (12-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Coaches: Butch Schaffer, Glenelg; Eric Wallich, Damascus
Last meeting: Damascus won, 33-0, in 2014 state semifinals
Outlook: Glenelg and Damascus played in Class 3A last fall and although they both made the semifinals, they did not meet. The Gladiators are in the state semifinals for the third time in the past four years, but are still looking for their first championship. The Hornets, from Montgomery County, won the past two Class 3A titles and are aiming for their 10th state championship. Fourth-seeded Glenelg defeated Thomas Stone, 27-18, in its regional final last week while the top seed took a controversial victory over reigning Class 2A champion Walkersville, 7-3, scoring their touchdown with 12 men on the field. The Gladiators rely on a solid running game led by Wande Owens, who set the Howard County rushing record a year ago. Owens missed several games early in the season with a foot injury, but has returned to run 170 times for 903 yards and nine touchdowns. Running back Kyle Dry and quarterback Tyler Reiff have each run for more than 350 yards and nine touchdowns. The Hornets, riding a 40-game winning streak, also have a steady running game led by T.D. Ayo-Durojaiye with 95 carries for 923 yards and 15 touchdowns.
GWYNN PARK (10-1) @ NO. 13 HARFORD TECH (12-0)
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Coaches: Danny Hayes, Gwynn Park; Tim Palmer, Harford Tech
Last meeting: First meeting
Outlook: Harford Tech is in the playoffs for the first time in program history under first-year coach Palmer. Not only have the Cobras gone undefeated for the first time, but they hadn’t had a winning season since 2008 and this is only their second winning record in 15 years. They had never won more than six games in a single season. Gwynn Park has been in the playoffs in eight of the past 10 years and won its only state title in 2005. In the regional final, the second-seeded Cobras overcame six turnovers to beat Kent Island, 22-21. Palmer said his team remained calm at the half despite trailing, but said the team can’t afford turnovers against the Yellow Jackets and their versatile offense. Harford Tech has won by an average of 33 points this fall, led by running backs Jalen Dangerfield (121 carries for 1,150 yards and 16 touchdowns) and Kyle Cicone (76 carries for 668 yards and 14 touchdowns). The offense has run for 2,691 yards. The Yellow Jackets, from Prince George’s County, have won seven straight games, led by quarterback Kamari Brown, who has thrown for for 1,381 yards and 23 touchdowns. The 2A state championship game is set for Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
HAVRE DE GRACE (11-1) @ NO. 7 DUNBAR (10-1)
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Coaches: Brian Eberhardt, Havre de Grace; Lawrence Smith, Dunbar
Last meeting: Dunbar won, 22-12, in 2010 state championship
Outlook: Havre de Grace is aiming for its third straight trip to the Class 1A title game, having fallen to Fort Hill the past two seasons. Dunbar, a state semifinalist in Class 2A last season, aims to get back to the title game for the first time since 2014. The Poets, whose 54 playoff wins are the most in tournament history, won the most recent of their nine state championships in 2012. In 2010, they won their seventh championship by beating the Warriors. Havre de Grace has won three state titles, but none since 1986. The Warriors have been in the playoffs 10 times in the past 12 years. Since 2003, the Poets have been in the state semifinals every year but one. The Baltimore City champion Poets are riding a 10-game winning streak and boast a versatile offense. Running backs Alfonzo Graham and Andre Brandon have each run for more than 900 yards and they’ve combined for 21 touchdowns. Quarterback Jared Lewis has thrown for 2,846 yards and 24 touchdowns — 13 of them to Raekwon Walker and Ryan Wood, who each have more than 800 receiving yards. The Warriors also have a versatile offense with running backs Jasai Stansbury and Sean Greeley combining for more than 1,100 yards and 19 touchdowns. Quarterback Alex Gresock has thrown for 1,639 yards and 24 touchdowns. The third-seeded Warriors also have one weapon the second-seeded Poets do not — a strong field-goal kicker in Clay Harris, who tied the state record with 13 field goals last season and has six this fall. The winner will advance to meet four-time defending champion Fort Hill (11-1) or Lackey (10-2) for the state title on Dec. 2 at 3:30 p.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Before Fort Hill’s title run, the Poets had won seven of the previous nine Class 1A titles.