"Our guys believe they can go out and compete with the likes of Gilman," said Hall, a former Loyola quarterback whose teams have won only six games the past two years. "This year, it's a different team with a different mentality. We are learning to win. We are in tough games and doing the right things."
Loyola will count on senior running back Biafra Okoronkwo, who has rushed for 420 yards on 51 carries.
Okoronko gained a season-high 150 yards on 11 carries and scored two touchdowns in Loyola's 33-32 upset of host Archbishop Curley, snapping the Friars' 11-game winning streak.
The Dons also have received strong play from junior quarterback Jason Smith, senior linebacker Darren Seward and junior strong safety Omar Whiting.
They will need to perform well to stand up to a Gilman offensive line featuring four seniors committed to play in college: tackles Devery Hamilton (6 feet 7, 290 pounds, Michigan) and Stephen Spanellis (6-5, 320, Virginia) guard Wes Mehl (6-3, 280, Navy) and center Stewart Keehner (6-5, 280, Georgetown).
"Curley had the longest winning streak in the area," said Gilman assistant coach Henry Russell, whose team is ranked No. 2 in the Maryland High School Football Media State Poll. "Watching some game film, they have some skills guys that can score from anywhere and their defense is playing well. They got things rolling. We will have our work cut out for us."