COLLEGE PARK -- The Wheaton Knights didn't rely on the "big play" in yesterday afternoon's Class 2A state football final. Nor did the Montgomery County power opt for trickery or deception.
Their game plan against Cumberland's Fort Hill was simple, explained senior running back Theron Johnson. "We just wanted to pound them, and pound them, and pound them until they gave up."
Johnson ran 25 times for 100 yards, and teammate Hector Velazquez ran 16 times for another 112 yards and two touchdowns to lead Wheaton to a 21-0 win over Fort Hill in the Class 2A state title game at the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium.
Wheaton's first state championship also was the seventh shutout for the Knights (11-2).
They used two prolonged first-half drives to take the early advantage. Velazquez scored from 5 yards out to cap a 6: 15 drive that opened the game, and Dexter Baxter scored from 12 yards on a similar possession late in the half.
Then, defensively, Wheaton put the clamps on Fort Hill's normally prolific offense. The Sentinels (9-3) got just 82 yards of total offense and further hurt their cause with two first-half turnovers.
Wheaton coach Lee Branthover said his team knew what to expect from Fort Hill's wing-T attack.
"Defensively, our kids stepped it up," said Branthover. "Fortunately, we've seen that wing-T offense several times during the course of the year. It was nothing new for us."
Added Johnson: "It's like waking up and going to brush your teeth. It's just routine."
Wheaton played aggressive defense all afternoon against a Fort Hill team that had averaged 35 points a game during its regular season, holding its ground despite Fort Hill's excellent starting position throughout the second half.
The Sentinels began five of their possessions after halftime in Wheaton territory, including three inside the 40.
Their hopes were dashed for good with 1: 16 left in the game, however, when Wheaton defensive back David Ogburn intercepted a pass by Pat Pennel deep in the Knights' territory and returned it 38 yards. Three plays later, Velazquez broke a 44-yard touchdown run to make it 21-0.
"We had to get physical today," said Velazquez, "because these were just two great teams going at it. We got more physical, and we prevailed."
The game marked the third time in 10 years, including two in the past three, that Fort Hill has lost in the state final.
Pub Date: 12/01/96