Francis Scott Key coach Will Thompson said the excitement is building within the community as the Eagles prepare for their first playoff game in 13 years.
The Eagles are one of five Carroll County football teams that qualified for the postseason under the new rules set forth by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association. The regional playoffs expanded from 64 teams to 128, and the top eight teams from each region advance based on the MPSSAA’s traditional point system.
FSK (3-6) faces Edmondson (7-2) at Poly-Western in a 1A North first-round game Friday at 6 p.m. The Eagles defeated Centennial, Manchester Valley, and Smithsburg en route to earning a playoff spot.
“I think everyone as a whole, the community and the school, are very excited and happy with how the season has gone,” said Thompson, Key’s first-year coach. “My ultimate goal when I first got this job was playoffs or bust. Would we have liked to get a couple more wins? Yes, but with the circumstances we’ve been dealt with this year, the kids have rallied and done a tremendous job.”
The Eagles had six starters suffer injuries this fall, Thompson said, but the team never wavered as a result of those setbacks.
“We don’t quit regardless if we’re winning or if we’re down a score or two. It’s always a battle," Thompson said. “The next person comes in and they keep fighting and pushing. That’s definitely a huge bright spot with a lot of young guys in the mix, so that bodes really well for us moving forward.”
Liberty (6-3) hosts Oakland Mills (6-3) in a 2A West matchup Friday at 7 p.m. The Lions won five straight games before falling to Westminster in overtime on Oct. 25, and they closed out the regular season with a 42-7 romp over Man Valley.
The Lions are making their fourth straight postseason appearance, and are 1-6 in postseason play with their lone win coming in 2014 against Poolesville.
Manchester Valley (5-4) is back in the playoffs for the first time in four years, and the Mavericks host Hammond (5-4) Friday at 7 p.m. The Mavericks won four straight games to start the season before dropping their next three against county foes Westminster, Century, and Francis Scott Key.
The Mavs edged Winters Mill 13-10 on Oct. 25, but fell to Liberty in Week 9 to close out the regular season.
Westminster (7-2) hosts Long Reach (3-6) at Ruby Field in a Class 3A East matchup Friday at 7 p.m. The county champions bring a seven-game win streak into the playoffs that includes three shutouts.
The Owls defeated Liberty 34-31 in overtime to secure their fifth county title in nine seasons then routed city rival Winters Mill 45-14 to improve to 12-1 in the all-time series over the Falcons.
Century (6-3) is back in the playoffs for the third time in four seasons, and the Knights travel to Glenelg (6-3) for another 2A West matchup Friday at 7 p.m.
Knights coach Todd Edmondson said the coaching staff made a few schematic adjustments on the offensive side of the ball during the season and the team has rallied behind those changes. They closed out the season with two straight wins after suffering a blowout loss Oct. 18 at Westminster.
Glenelg should be a good test for the Knights, Edmondson said. Westminster played Glenelg on Sept. 27 and needed to mount a fourth-quarter comeback to defeat the Gladiators 36-29.
“They’re very similar in style with us so we have to come out and hit them,” Edmondson said. “When they hit us, we have to hit them back and play a physical football game. We’re up for the challenge and we need to stop their run, and on offense we have to get our first downs and get a hat on a hat.”