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Baltimore-area football Game of the Week: No. 2 Calvert Hall at No. 3 Mount Saint Joseph

From left, Charles Barley and Matthew Harrer (22) of St Mary's Ryken chase Dont'e Thornton of Mount Saint Joseph after Thornton caught a pass in the second quarter in August.
From left, Charles Barley and Matthew Harrer (22) of St Mary's Ryken chase Dont'e Thornton of Mount Saint Joseph after Thornton caught a pass in the second quarter in August. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

No. 2 Calvert Hall (5-0) at No. 3 Mount Saint Joseph (4-1)

When: Saturday, 2 p.m.

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Coaches: Donald Davis, Calvert Hall; Rich Holzer, Mount Saint Joseph

KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH

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Calvert Hall: WR Cole Herbert, Jr.; RB Sean Tucker, Jr.; DL Billy Wooden, Sr.; DE Nicholas Lenon, Sr. OL-DL Anthony Anderson, Sr.; SS Mike Neal, Sr.

Mount Saint Joseph: RB Marlowe Wax, Jr.; QB Billy Atkins, Soph.; WR Dont’e Thornton, Soph.; DL Tyler Leavy, Jr.; WR Maurice Nelson, Sr.; LB Nate Slutzky, Jr.

The number of football players at Friends School had been dwindling for a few years, with only about 20 on the varsity team last season. This fall, only about 10 tried out, so the Quakers could not field a team.

KEYS TO VICTORY

This Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference showdown should be one of the top games of the year, but it just got a little more difficult for the Cardinals.

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Senior quarterback Mike Campbell is out for the season after tearing an ACL and other knee ligaments during last week’s win at Riverdale Baptist. Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis said Campbell was trying to break free from a tackle and turned at an odd angle as the defender pulled him down.

The Cardinals will now rely on 6-foot-3, 190-pound sophomore Amir Jenkins, who can run and has a big arm but lacks varsity experience. Jenkins, however, has a veteran line in front of him.

“Our offensive line, it’s going to be important that they carry us,” Davis said. “We’ve got to play defense, run the ball and protect a young quarterback.”

The Gaels also have a young quarterback in 6-foot, 160-pound Billy Atkins, but he has varsity experience. In the season opener, he set a school record for passing yards with 425 in a 49-7 win over St. Mary’s Ryken.

A year ago, the Cardinals rolled over the Gaels, 34-0. Mount Saint Joseph won twice in a row before that.

Calvert Hall owns the best record in the Baltimore area and one of the biggest wins of the season, a 19-14 victory over three-time defending Class 4A state champion Wise three weeks ago. That week, the Gaels struggled against nationally ranked Good Counsel and suffered their only loss, 58-6.

While the Cardinals are the more veteran team, both have exceptional skill players on both sides of the ball.

Running backs Sean Tucker and Marlowe Wax can put up big numbers while Cole Herbert and Dont’e Thornton are two of the area’s best wide receivers.

When asked what concerned him most about the other team, each coach answered, “Everything.”

Gaels coach Rich Holzer said: “They’re big, fast and physical on all sides of the ball. ... They’ve got some confidence going after beating Wise and when you’re good and confident, that’s tough to overcome.”

He and Davis also agree the game will be won at the line of scrimmage.

“I think if we can establish a run game,” Holzer said, “and stop their run game — because that’s obviously what they do best, run the football with Sean Tucker — and if we can establish control on the line of scrimmage, we’ll be all right, but that’s a big task. Their front four on defense are very talented and their defensive line is big and talented.”

Davis noted that with the versatility of Mount Saint Joseph’s offense, the Gaels can score a lot of points quickly, averaging 37.4 per game. Calvert Hall averages a touchdown less, but the Cardinals have allowed just 40 points while the Gaels have given up 93.

“We’re going to have to find a way to slow their offense,” Davis said. “We’re going to need to turn them over and we’re going to have to control the ball on offense. I don’t think we win a track meet.”

The Cardinals and the Gaels won’t be playing for the MIAA A Conference championship this year. St. Frances was awarded the title after the two, McDonogh, Archbishop Spalding and Gilman opted not to play the No. 1 Panthers, mostly citing safety concerns.

However, Davis has dubbed them the “Group of Five” and they are playing for their own version of a championship although nothing official.

OTHER GAMES TO WATCH

» Life Christian, Va. vs. No. 1 St. Frances at Utz Field, Friday, 7 p.m.

» River Hill at No. 14 Howard, Friday, 7

» Dundalk at Franklin, Friday, 7

» No. 5 Archbishop Spalding at No. 11 McDonogh, Saturday, 2 p.m.

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