A look at this week's top metro-area football playoff matchups

Malcolm Ali, Mervo, gets the bench going in the first quarter of their game at Patterson.
Malcolm Ali, Mervo, gets the bench going in the first quarter of their game at Patterson.(Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Sixteen regional semifinals Friday and Saturday feature metro area football teams, while the MIAA B and C Conference titles will be contested as well. Here's what to expect for some of The Baltimore Sun's top teams:

Class 4A North


NO. 14 MERVO (9-1)

@NO. 6 HOWARD (10-0)


When: Tonight, 7

Coaches: Patrick Nixon, Mervo; Bruce Strunk, Howard

Last meeting: None

Outlook: Howard completed its second straight undefeated regular season to win back-to-back Howard County championships for the first time in 40 years. The Lions won their only state title back then, in 1974. Last year, the Lions reached the state semifinals for the first time since 1975, before falling to Old Mill, 10-3. Mervo, the Baltimore City Class 4A-3A champion, has never won a regional title. The Mustangs, whose only loss was to Edmondson, nipped Douglass, 12-6, in its regular-season finale. The Mustangs haven't faced a running back like the Lions Malik Anderson, who has run for 1,315 yards and 16 touchdowns, or a quarterback like Casey Crawford, who threw for more than 300 yards last week and has a season total of more than 1,800 yards passing with 23 touchdowns. The Mustangs, however, have allowed an average of just 8.4 points and have two defensive ends, Malcolm Ali and Dejuan Dallas, who can create havoc for the opposing quarterback. The Mustangs, however, will have to overcome a substantial size disadvantage on the lines, so they will be looking for some big plays to give them an edge over a Lions team with a more high-powered, versatile offense than anything Mervo has seen this season.

Class 4A East

NO. 12 ANNAPOLIS (8-2)

@NO. 2 OLD MILL (10-0)

When: Tonight, 7

Coaches: Nick Good-Malloy, Annapolis; Chad McCormick, Old Mill

Last meeting: Old Mill won 45-12 last week

Outlook: After falling in the state title game last season, 34-31, Old Mill is on a mission to get back to the final and win its third championship in seven years. The Patriots rolled to the Anne Arundel County championship by outscoring their county foes by an average of 39.3 points. No team came closer than within 16 points.as the Patriots averaged 47.7 points, powered by a mountainous offensive line. Quarterback David Marrocco and running back Pete Boone gave the Panthers trouble last week with Marrocco passing for 240 yards and Boone running for 139 and two touchdowns. Annapolis, which won its only state title in 1978, is making its first regional playoff appearance since 2009. To upset the Patriots, the Panthers won't be able to fall behind the way they did last week when Old Mill's Camari Wilkerson took the opening kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown. Boone added a rushing touchdown and the Panthers were down by 13 early in the second half. The Panthers will have to play a cleaner game if they want to get past the Patriots. Old Mill has won 10 straight meetings with Annapolis since the Panthers last won the 2005 regular-season meeting.

NO. 10 BROADNECK (8-2)



When: Tonight, 7

Coaches: Rob Harris, Broadneck; Tom Petre, North Point

Last meeting: None

Outlook: The Bruins have a lot of motivation after going into the playoffs undefeated last season only to fall to eventual state finalist Old Mill in the first round. It was the second straight time they were dismissed in the first round. Now they're headed to Waldorf to play the only non-Anne Arundel County team in the Class 4A East regional field. The Eagles, who have never won a regional title are hosting a football playoff game for the first time. The Bruins won their last regional title in 2010. After a season-opening loss to South River, the Bruins rallied to go 9-1 with their only loss to Old Mill. Emmett Davis, the first-year starting quarterback, orchestrated an offense averaging 33.5 points per game. The defense, led by All-Metro linebacker Ali'i Niumatalolo, has given up an average of 15.6 points. The Eagles, led by Iowa-bound wide receiver Devonte Young, finished the season with four lopsided victories to win the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference. They average 24.5 points, but four of their first six wins were by a touchdown or less. The Eagles have only one playoff win, having upset Arundel in 2011.

Class 2A North

DUNBAR (7-2)


When: Tonight, 7 p.m.

Where: CCBC-Essex

Coaches: Lawrence Smith, Dunbar; Marc Mesaros, Eastern Tech

Last meeting: Dunbar won 30-28 last season

Outlook: These two teams staged one of the best games in the regional finals last season when the Poets used a blocked punt and a fumble recovery to get the jump on the Mavericks in the third quarter and held on for a 30-28 victory. This fall, the Mavericks cruised into the playoffs by an average of 34.8 points. Only one team came within 16 points of Eastern Tech and the Mavericks have allowed only two opponents to score more than a touchdown. The Poets, who have won more playoff games than any other team in tournament history, needed their 44-12 win over Edmondson in the season finale to clinch the fourth-seeded spot. Both teams rely heavily on the running game this season with Brandon Hlavach and Ian McBorrough leading the Mavericks and Plevon Pryor, who scored four touchdowns last week, is one of the Poets top threats in a balanced offense. Whichever team is most successful at forcing the other to put the ball in the air likely will move on. The Poets, who are in the playoffs for the 14th straight year, have won nine championships, most recently in 2012, while the Mustangs won their only state title in 2009.

Class 2A West



When: Tonight, 7

Coaches: Marcus Lewis, Marriotts Ridge; Steve Luette, South Carroll

Last meeting: None.

Outlook: The Mustangs and the Cavaliers have never played a game that counted although they have scrimmaged the past few seasons. En route to the Carroll County championship, the Cavaliers swept the competition, notched four shutouts and allowed just 20 points. Their only loss was to South Hagerstown, 21-20, in Week 3. The Friday meeting should be highlighted by defense since both teams have allowed only about a touchdown per game. The Cavaliers have yielded 72 points and the Mustangs, just 62. The Mustangs clinched their second playoff berth in school history with a 7-6 win over Reservoir last week. This is the first season they've posted eight wins. With the stingiest defense in Howard County. Tyler Poole scored the touchdown against Reservoir. Daaron Williams, who leads the Mustangs in tackles with 70, had 13 against Reservoir. The Cavaliers finished their season with the first shutout over Westminster in the 48-game series. Maryland commit Silas Kelly had his fifth interception of the season in the game and Travis Earp had three sacks. The Cavaliers are in the playoffs for the seventh straight year and, like the Mustangs, are aiming for their first state title. South Carroll reached the title game once, in 2005.

MIAA B Conference championship




When: Tomorrow, 6 p.m.

Where: Archbishop Spalding

Last meeting: John Carroll won, 35-27, two weeks ago

Coaches: Keith Rawlings, John Carroll; Sean Murphy, Archbishop Curley

Outlook: John Carroll rolls into the title game with the best record in the Baltimore area and the longest active winning streak at 11 games. The Patriots haven't won a championship since 2001 and they face the defending champion Friars, who have been in the title game three straight years and have won five times since 2000. When the two met during the regular season, the game was tied at 21 early in the third quarter but a Curley turnover led to a Patriots touchdown that gave them the lead for good. The Friars' biggest challenge will be to try to slow down the area's most prolific quarterback, Kurt Rawlings. The Yale-bound senior, who threw for four touchdowns in the first meeting, holds the MIAA single-season record for touchdown passes with 48. He stands fourth on the state all-time list. This fall, Rawlings has thrown for 3,249 yards. He threw for five touchdowns in last week's 41-0 semifinal win over St. Vincent Pallotti. The Friars, who rely more on the ground game, defeated Boys' Latin, 16-3, in their semifinal. Senior Rod Petitt ran for 120 of Curley's 262 rushing yards. That win reversed a 31-28 loss to the Lakers earlier in the season. The Friars, who lost two of their first three games, won four straight before falling to John Carroll on Oct. 30.

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