When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Coaches: Biff Poggi, Gilman; Donald Davis, Calvert Hall
Last meeting: Gilman won, 34-32 in 2OT, in last season's MIAA A Conference final
Series: Gilman leads, 33-21-2
KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH
Gilman: QB Shane Cockerille, Sr. (763 yards rushing, 11 TDs; 668 yards passing, 4 TDs); TE-DT Henry Poggi, Sr.(69 yards receiving; 9 sacks, 2 forced fumbles); LB-TE Micah Kiser, Sr. (82 tackles, 2 INTs both ret. for TDs, 1 fumble recovery, 3 forced fumbles, 1 sack); LB-RB Miles Norris (59 tackles, 2 INTs, 3 sacks); LB-RB Wyatt Dickerson, Sr. (3 rushing TDs, 2 catches for 74 yards and 1 TD; 1 INT ret. for TD, 1 sack, 41 tackles); DE Melvin Keihn, Jr. (7 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 5 tackles for a loss)
Calvert Hall: QB Colar Kuhns, Jr. (54-for-97 passing for 770 yards, 6 TDs, 4 INTs); WR Kyle Levere, Sr. (13 catches for 211 yards, 4 TDs); RB-DB Stephen Kelly, Sr. (154 rushing yards, 2 TDs; 2 INTs); RB-LB Robbie Jones, Sr. (103 yards rushing, 4 TDs); S-WR Delando Johnson, Sr. (2 INTs); LB Cole Atkinson, Sr. (64 tackles); RB Garrett Keene, Sr. (101 yards rushing, 3 TDs)
KEYS TO VICTORY
For the third straight time, Gilman and Calvert Hall meet as No. 1 and No. 2. The rivals have split their last four meetings, but Gilman won twice last year in dramatic, late-game fashion. The Greyhounds won the regular-season game, 28-21, on a 97-yard punt return for a touchdown with about three minutes left. A month later, they beat the Cardinals in double overtime to win their 10th Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championship in the first-ever A Conference title game.
In 2010, the Cardinals upset then-No. 1 Gilman, 26-21, and went on to win their first championship since 1982 when the two teams were in the Maryland Scholastic Association. In that game, as in both 2011 meetings, the team trailing at halftime came back to win.
Gilman, which has won seven of the last 10 meetings, is favored again after clobbering its first three A Conference opponents — Mount St. Joseph, Archbishop Spalding and Loyola — by an average of 39 points. They've allowed only 16 total points in those three games. Calvert Hall has won its first two conference games — against Mount St. Joseph and McDonogh — by a touchdown each.
Gilman's defense can dominate opponents, especially on the line and with the linebackers, and gives the offense good field position. The Greyhounds defense has allowed an average of four points in its last five games. The offense, which revolves around Cockerille and has many weapons, wears down opponents.
"Everything about them is tough," Davis said. "They're big, they're strong, they're deep, they're well-coached, they're confident and they're hot right now. They're rolling."
Still, the Cardinals tend to give Gilman trouble. Three years ago, Calvert Hall went to Gilman with a young team and ran their way to a 21-12 upset.
The Greyhounds "tuned up" for the A Conference this fall with one of the toughest early season schedules in the country. They lost to Ohio's Archbishop Moeller, 35-14, in their opener in Cincinnati and then fell to Good Counsel, 20-19 in overtime. They followed that with a 13-6 win over Don Bosco Prep from New Jersey.
"We've really only played one bad half of football all year," Biff Poggi said of the first half against Moeller. "The second half of that game we outplayed Moeller and we played very good against Good Counsel at Good Counsel and after that we've been on mark."
The Cardinals, who beat No. 8 Dunbar, 30-6, in the second game of the season, have lost only to DeMatha, 23-14. They have a strong running game and a capable passing game, but as a young team, they are prone to mistakes, Davis said, and every mistake will cost them against Gilman.
"We've got to score points," Davis said. "We're not shutting them out. We're going to have to take care of the football. If we win the turnover battle and we score points, we give ourselves a chance."
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
C. Milton Wright at North Harford, tonight, 7
Century at No. 5 Westminster, tomorrow, 7
No. 3 River Hill at Reservoir, tomorrow, 7
No. 10 Archbishop Spalding at Loyola, Saturday, 2
Catonsville at No. 14 Milford Mill, Saturday, 2