When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Coaches: Rich Hambor, Catonsville; Anthony Burgos, Franklin
Last meeting: Catonsville won, 35-7, last season
KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH
Franklin: ATH Reggie Ellis, Sr. (18.6 yards per catch, 150 total yards, 3 TDs); WR-FS Marquis Ellis, Sr. (7 catches, 154 yards, 2 TDs; 8 tackles, 1 INT, 1 TD); RB Maurice McFadden, So. (22 carries, 174 yards, 1 TD); QB Jaquez Adams, So. (164 yards passing, 3 TDs); QB Jackson Thornton, Sr. (275 yards passing, 3 TDs); ILB Malik Jackson, Sr (36 Tackles, 1 INT, 1 TD)
Catonsville: RB DeAndre' Lane, Sr. (65 carries, 500 yards, 3 TDs); RB-LB Joseth Hylton Sr. (31 carries, 253 yards, 4 TDs); TE-LB-P Teddy Crayton Jr. (3 catches, 62 yards, 3TDs); RB-LB Julian Singletary, Sr. (16 carries, 51 yards; 3 sacks, 20 tackles); RB-CB Nigel Minter Sr. (1 INT returned for TD); OL-DE T.J. Henry, Sr. (4 sacks)
KEYS TO VICTORY
This clash between the top two teams in Baltimore County could not feature more contrasting styles. Catonsville is known for its deliberate running game while Franklin has a quick-strike offense.
"They're very explosive," Hambor said of the Indians. "You can take six or seven minutes to score and they can score in 30 or 40 seconds. That's impressive. They've always been a big-play team."
Last week, the Indians scored 20 points on Hereford in the first nine minutes, including Reggie Ellis' 62-yard fumble recovery on the Bulls' first drive. Hereford rallied, but Franklin held on for a 41-34 win.
Catonsville was even quicker getting on the scoreboard in its 35-6 win over Woodlawn last week, as Lane returned the opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown. But the competition gets a bit tougher this week.
While Lane — an All-Metro second-team running back last season after rushing for more than 1,700 yards — is the top threat, the Comets spread the ball around with Hylton and Singletary getting their share of carries.
"The key is stopping Lane," Burgos said. "He's their big-play guy and if he has a seam, he can take it the distance pretty quickly, but they have a great running package. They have DeAndre' and they have two other guys that feed off him pretty well."
Burgos said his young team learned a valuable lesson last week about playing for four quarters. While Hereford never took the lead, the Bulls pulled within 20-17 by halftime.
"We're very talented," Burgos said, "but our young players have to realize that the top teams are not just going to give in. They have to keep battling and play for four quarters. We did a good job coming out and establishing our presence and then we let it slip away."
Against a roster full of Franklin players capable of breaking big plays, the Comets, defending champions in the county's Class 4A-3A division, will have to slow them down to come away with the win and a chance to repeat.
"We want to make them drive the ball," Hambor said. "If we can force them to play our game a little bit, I'm not sure whether we win or lose, but that's what we want. If we have to chase them — we don't want to do that."
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
No. 4 Arundel at No. 15 South River, Friday, 6:30
Edmondson at Poly, Friday , 7
Martinsburg, W.V. at No. 6 Westminster, Friday, 7
Niagara, Ont., Canada at No. 2 Calvert Hall, Saturday, 1Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun