North Carroll (2-1)
at Thomas Johnson (2-1)
When: 7 tonight
Outlook: Coming off last week's loss to Bowie, the Panthers will try to get back on the winning track in what figures to be a high-scoring game in Frederick. All-everything back Steve Suter (652 yards, eight TDs in three games), who will play at Maryland next season, is the go-to guy in a ball-control offense, but the Panthers also will use him as a decoy for halfback Greg Dalgarno and fullbacks Vinnie Iadevaia and Trevor Stockman.
The Patriots also feature a strong running game, led by quarterback Robert Staley, who loves to bootleg. North Carroll coach Bill Rumbaugh has stressed that his linebackers can't get caught on the inside and allow Staley to run wild.
With two run-oriented offenses going head to head, the key will be controlling the line of scrimmage. "We can't be intimidated," said Rumbaugh.
Westminster (2-1) at Liberty (3-0)
When: 7 p.m. tomorrow
Outlook: In the Central Maryland Conference opener for both teams, Westminster could have its hands full stopping Liberty's multiple offensive weapons.
The Lions, who run the wing-T but occasionally use the I-formationand option, are led by quarterback Jimmy Miller, fullback Drew D'Anthony and halfbacks Ryan Sargent and Mike Campbell. So far, coach Ken Johnson's team has had little difficulty, beating Boonsboro and Northeast, both by 27-6 scores, before beating Aberdeen, 20-8, last week.
Westminster, coming off a 21-8 loss to C. Milton Wright following wins over Laurel and Loyola, is led by fullback Wesley Howard and defensive back Buck Thompson. To have a shot at beating Liberty, the Owls will have to slow the Lions' running game and force them to throw the ball, something they don't do much.
South Carroll (1-2) at Urbana (2-0)
When: 7 p.m. tomorrow
Outlook: The Cavaliers couldn't have asked for a tougher assignment for their Central Maryland Conference opener.
Urbana, the defending Class 2A state champion, hasn't lost since 1997 and is led by a prolific quarterback, Zach Mills, who has accepted a full scholarship to Penn State. But don't count out coach Gene Brown's team just yet.
Though Urbana is a heavy favorite, the Cavaliers' strength is their defense, led by two of the area's premier linebackers in Chris Currence and Nick Hozik. "Nobody's really moved the ball against us yet," said Brown. "If we can stop them consistently, you never know." Running back Danny Stansbury, who's rushed for 320 yards in three games, leads the offense. Following consecutive losses to open the season, the team is coming off a 26-14 win over Bethesda-Chevy Chase.
Smithsburg (2-1) at Francis Scott Key (1-2)
When: 7 p.m. tomorrow
Outlook: Francis Scott Key will attempt, against perennial Monocacy Valley Athletic League power Smithsburg, to make it two wins in a row.
The Eagles, still trying to work out the kinks in their new wing-T offense, are led by junior quarterback Russell Tyler, who had a game to remember in last week's 20-12 win over North Hagerstown.
Tyler, starting his first game this season under center after starting there all last season, rushed for more than 100 yards with a touchdown, threw a touchdown pass, kicked a pair of extra points and also blocked an extra point. He will need to have a similar effort against a Smithsburg defense that posted two straight shutouts to open the season.
The Leopards, from Washington County, play smash-mouth football out of the I-formation but also feature a stable of athletic receivers.
Key coach Mike Coons said he feels his team's best chance is to stop the run and force Smithsburg to pass.
Bowling Brook (1-0) at St. James Academy (0-3)
When: 2: 30 p.m. Saturday
Outlook: The Thoroughbreds, coming off a 26-19 win over West Nottingham in their first varsity game, look to make it 2-0 against struggling St. James in Hagerstown.
Running back Tristan Scott led the way last week with 145 yards rushing and a touchdown, and quarterback Rashad Cobb was 8-for-12 for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, coach Gary Myers' squad played well overall but gave up some big plays. Myers said his team, most of which had never before played organized football, gained confidence with the win and could present trouble for the young Washington County team.