Six regional semifinal football games to watch on Friday

Arundel's Larry Barnes carries the ball as Broadneck's Will Schwob moves in for the tackle.
Arundel's Larry Barnes carries the ball as Broadneck's Will Schwob moves in for the tackle. (Matthew Cole, Staff / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

As regional football playoffs begin this weekend, here's a look at six notable semifinal games:

Class 4A East


NO. 6 OLD MILL (8-2)

@NO. 1 BROADNECK (10-0)


When: Friday, 7

Coaches: Chad McCormick, Old Mill; Rob Harris, Broadneck

Last meeting: Broadneck won, 25-22, on Sept. 5

Outlook: The only undefeated team in the region, Broadneck is seeded first, which has been a precarious position of late. Old Mill finished 10-0 last season — as did Arundel the year before — but both lost in the region semifinal. In 2011, however, the Patriots went 15-0 and won the state title. After the Bruins (who have never won a state title) edged Old Mill in the season opener, both teams put up spectacular offensive numbers. Broadneck averages 39.5 points per game and the Patriots, 41.9. Their September meeting featured five lead changes and 33 fourth-quarter points. Bruins quarterback Canaan Gebele has thrown for 1,707 yards and 26 touchdowns and Alec Ruden has 677 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Both teams are tough on defense, giving up about 11 points per game. Neither can afford the early mistakes of the first meeting. The Patriots rely on the running game, especially Donovan Franklin, who ran for 143 yards last week, but quarterback David Marrocco can also mix it up. Old Mill has won eight straight games since losing to Broadneck and Arundel.


@NO. 5 ARUNDEL (9-1)

When: Friday, 7

Coaches: Tom Petre, North Point; Chuck Markiewicz, Arundel

Last meeting: North Point won, 31-21 on Nov. 11, 2011

Outlook: The Eagles crashed the Anne Arundel County party in 4A East and will play Arundel for the second time in five years. Arundel won the first meeting in 2010, 39-28, but fell in the 2011 region opener. The Southern Maryland Athletic Conference champions boast one of the state's most prolific quarterbacks in Brandon Battle, who has thrown for 2,449 yards and 26 touchdowns. They also run for 251 yards per game. Christian Houston averages 130 of those yards and has scored 19 touchdowns. The Wildcats, who won their only state title in 1975, have a strong passing game and an strengthening rushing attack, led by quarterback Anthony Messenger (1,696 yards passing, 17 touchdowns) and running back Larry Barnes, who ran for 194 yards and two touchdowns in last week's 35-27 win over Meade.

Class 4A North



@NO. 7 HOWARD (10-0)

When: Friday, 7

Coaches: Keith Robinson, Perry Hall; Bruce Strunk, Howard

Last meeting: Perry Hall won, 28-14, last season

Outlook: Until last season, long-time friends Strunk and Robinson hadn't coached against each other in 11 years. Robinson won that meeting but this season Howard is the top seed. Perry Hall squeaked into the playoffs, edging Sherwood (7-3) for the fourth spot by less than two-tenths of a point. The Lions' success is built on a pounding running game — Najee Savage has run for more than 1,100 yards — and a defense that has recorded five shutouts and hasn't allowed a touchdown in the past five games. Winston DeLattiboudere III has 13.5 sacks. The Gators have struggled with injuries among their receivers and in the secondary. Quarterback Reece Wiseman has thrown for 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns. The Lions won their only state title in 1974, which is also the year Perry Hall had its best finish in the state tournament (runner up in a different classification).

Class 3A North


@NO. 4 FRANKLIN (9-1)

When: Friday, 7

Coaches: Reggie White, Milford Mill; Anthony Burgos, Franklin

Last meeting: Franklin won, 29-8 on Oct. 24

Outlook: For the past three years the Indians have dominated Milford Mill in every meeting except one, and the seniors haven't forgotten that loss. The Millers upset Franklin, 33-28, in the region playoffs in 2012 after Franklin rolled over them, 35-7, during the regular season. The Indians, the defending Class 3A state champions, won this year's meeting handily but remain wary of their Baltimore County rival. While the Indians still have a lot of big-play potential in their passing game led by quarterback Jacquez Adams (1,085 yards, 15 touchdowns) and speedy receiver-return man Steven Smothers (903 all-purpose yards, 10 touchdowns), they have ramped up their running game this season, with Darius Hinton rushing for 1,258 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Millers, who won their only state title in 1987, also have a 1,000-yard rusher in Brandon Adams while Deontaye White has 1,406 total yards.

BEL AIR (9-1)


When: Friday, 7

Coaches: David Huryk, Bel Air; Johnny Brooks, Aberdeen

Last meeting: Aberdeen won, 23-21 on Oct. 16

Outlook: This rematch of the top two teams in Harford County features a strong running game on both sides. The Bobcats, who haven't beat Aberdeen in five years, have two 1,000-yard rushers in Brad Casale and Devin Bowers while the Eagles have Ben Richardson, who has run for 13 touchdowns. Aberdeen, however, has a more versatile offense with the county's top passer, Reggie Washington (2,134 yards, 19 touchdowns). The Eagles also has a top kicker in Owen Smith, whose 25-yard field goal made the difference in the first meeting. Bel Air, aiming for its first state championship, made a couple of costly mistakes in the first game, including a turnover that led to Smith's game-winning field goal. Aberdeen, which won their only state title in 2003, needs to contain the Bobcats' running game and force them into long yardage situations.

Class 3A East



When: Friday, 7

Coaches: Bryan Cole, Reservoir; Brian Van Deusen, River Hill

Last meeting: Reservoir won, 14-13 on Nov. 7

Outlook: River Hill has been one of the most successful playoff teams in tournament history with 12 straight trips to the region playoffs and four state championships, but they had not lost three games in a season in more than a decade. Reservoir, making only its third trip to the region playoffs, scored its first win ever over the Hawks last week after Joey Janush blocked the potential game-tying extra point in the final minute. Van Deusen said the Hawks will have to cut down on turnovers. Both teams have strong running games with River Hill's Jon Kanda running for 708 yards and Trey Simpson for 660. Reservoir's Craig Jones ran for 260 yards against Oakland Mills early in the season.

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