Wright poised for another 3A comeback

C. Milton Wright's football team found itself in an unusual situation in its Class 3A quarterfinal game Friday night against Kenwood.

When the Baltimore County school's Joe Cofield broke out of a pack of defenders and raced off on a 68-yard touchdown run with 1:29 left in the half, it marked the first time Wright had been behind in a game all season.


The Mustangs bounced back in the second half, getting touchdown runs from healthy senior Chris Gill and junior Jason Tharpe to punch out a 14-8 victory. The win sends the Harford County team (11-0 and ranked No. 2 in The Baltimore Sun poll) against Linganore (10-0) in Frederick tomorrow night. The kickoff is scheduled for 7:30.

"Maybe it was good we had an adverse first half," Wright coach Steve Harward said. "We didn't shout at the players at halftime. We had put ourselves in a hole and the players knew what they had to do."


Against Kenwood, the Mustangs showed they could come back. Linganore, the defending Class 3A champion, is expected to provide a stiffer test. In a national/regional high school poll, the Frederick school -- the only Maryland team listed -- is rated No. 9 among Atlantic Coast teams.

Linganore showed last week how it can come back, too. The Lancers defeated John F. Kennedy, 42-16, in the quarterfinals, getting 28 third-quarter points after they trailed at halftime 16-14.

The Linganore leaders include senior running back John Seymour (5 feet 10, 215) and 205-pound fullback Tony Cioffi, who operate behind an offensive line that averages 6-3 and 230 pounds. Seymour is on the verge of rushing for 2,000 yards for the second straight year.

Wright has outscored the opposition 276-41 for the year, with Tharpe rushing for 1,049 yards and 14 touchdowns and often-injured Gill running for 943 yards and 11 touchdowns. As a team, the Mustangs have averaged 304 yards offensively and held the opposition to 157.

Although senior Brad Fordyce rates among the county's top pass receivers from tight end, he has been at his best as a linebacker. He has 103 solo tackles and 203 hits. Tharpe, another two-way player, has 145 hits, and small, but quick, defen

sive end Matt Jenkins is third in hits with 91.

At the start of this season, Wright had 10 senior veterans, but four suffered season-ending injuries, and now the Mustangs, with just four senior starters, are a young team. Given recent playoff history, this may not be all bad.

When McDonough beat C. Milton Wright, 33-20, in the 1990 3A final, both were dominated by juniors. Looking for big things from its veterans last year, Wright went out and lost in the first round, and a young Linganore team upset McDonough in the final, 14-7.


Already this year, in 3A, there has been one major upset, as eighth seed Gwynn Park (9-2) defeated top seed Thomas Stone (9-2). Besides the Linganore-Wright matchup, tomorrow night's other semifinal will have Gwynn Park at No. 4 Seneca Valley (9-2).

"Considering all the injuries we've had, this team has shown a lot of character," Harward said. "The backups have stepped up and done a great job."