Advertisement

Previewing Baltimore-area teams in the state football semifinals

Class 4A

No. 8 Howard (11-1) at Wise (12-0)

Advertisement

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Coaches: Bruce Strunk, Howard; DaLawn Parrish, Wise

Outlook: The Lions, aiming for their first state title since 1974, face the toughest opponent in the state tournament and they know something about Wise. The Pumas defeated them, 55-6, in last year's championship game. Parrish, a former Lions player, has Wise riding a 26-game win streak and ranked No. 2 in the state poll behind No. 1 DeMatha. After losing their top running back, sophomore Devin Dawkins (1,833 yards, 22 touchdowns) to a broken collarbone last week, the Lions will look to juniors DJ Howard and Robert Agbai to pick up the slack. They also have a solid passing game led by junior quarterback Robby Porter (1,434 yards, 16 touchdowns) and a defense that harasses opposing quarterbacks. Senior defensive back Bryson Craven has seven interceptions and senior defensive ends Muddy McHemba and Dimeji Olayinka have combined for 26 sacks. Wise does a little of everything as well, and Strunk said after playing the Pumas last fall that they were the best blocking and tackling high school team he had ever seen. Senior quarterback Jabari Lewis (1,980 yards passing, 566 yards rushing, 42 total touchdowns) and junior running back John Oliver (1,167 yards, 18 touchdowns) lead the Pumas, who are going for their third state title in five years.

No. 4 Annapolis (11-1) at Quince Orchard (11-1)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Coaches: Nick Good-Malloy, Annapolis; John Kelley, Quince Orchard

Outlook: The Panthers are in the state semifinals for the first time since they reached the title game in 2000. They face a Quince Orchard team that was the Class 4A runner-up in 2011 and 2012. While Panthers senior running back Cameron Hough (149 carries, 1,526 yards, 31 touchdowns) gets most of the attention, he has plenty of teammates who can score. Senior quarterback Justin Williams has thrown for 1,429 yards and 15 touchdowns with four interceptions, and has run for 552 yards and 10 touchdowns. Williams has a trio of receivers — junior Omar'od White (27 catches, 503 yards), senior Trey Gross (22, 359) and senior Tyson Queen (22, 327) — who have combined for 13 touchdowns. The Cougars' strength is in their running game. Senior Marvin Beander leads the way with 129 carries for 1,064 yards and 16 touchdowns. Junior quarterback Kendell "Doc" Bonner has 99 carries for 659 yards and nine touchdowns. Bonner can air it out, too, throwing for 1,628 yards and 21 touchdowns with just one interception. Quince Orchard is seeking its third state title and first since 2007. The Panthers are looking for their second state title. They won in 1978.

Class 3A

No. 14 Glenelg (10-2) at No. 5 Franklin (10-1)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Coaches: Butch Schaffer, Glenelg; Anthony Burgos, Franklin

Outlook: Franklin, which won Class 3A state titles in 2013 and 2014, is back in the semifinals after a year away. The Indians are riding the longest winning streak among Baltimore-area teams — 10 games since their season-opening loss to then-No. 1 McDonogh. Glenelg has never won a state title, but the Gladiators are in the state semifinals for the fourth time and the second time in three years. They're aiming for the second upset of a No. 5 team in five weeks after topping previously undefeated Howard last month. This meeting features one of the area's top run defenses against one of the top rushing teams. The Indians have allowed just two rushing touchdowns all season, but the Gladiators' feature back, sophomore Wande Owens, has scored 28. Owens is the Howard County single-season rushing record holder with 2,449 yards on 332 carries. No one else on the team has more than four touchdowns. While the Gladiators aim to control the line of scrimmage and shorten the game, the Indians rely more on big plays and they make them just about everywhere. Their leader, senior All-Metro linebacker Michael Gibson, has emerged as an offensive threat this season with 10 receiving touchdowns and four rushing touchdowns. Senior quarterback Josh Turner has thrown for 1,345 yards and 19 touchdowns, and run for 464 yards and eight touchdowns to spark the Indians to their sixth state semifinal.

Class 2A

Dunbar (9-3) at Walkersville (12-0)

Advertisement

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Coaches: Lawrence Smith, Dunbar; Joe Polce, Walkersville

Outlook: With a 60-14 win over then-No. 15 Hereford in the 2A North regional final, the Poets increased their state record for playoff victories to 52. They've won nine state titles, but their most recent came in 2012. Now, the Poets are about to face one of the stingiest teams in the state. While Dunbar scored 108 points in its two playoff games, the Lions have allowed just 38 points all season. No team has scored more than one touchdown on them and they've shut out six opponents. Walkersville's secondary has neutralized their opponents' big-play aspirations. Dunbar, which has made a lot of big plays, is led by junior quarterback Jared Lewis, who has thrown for 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns with six interceptions. The Poets' top running back, Da'Shawn Darien has run for 617 yards and 12 touchdowns. Defensively, senior linebacker Christopher Bazemore (12 sacks) and senior defensive back Avery Thurman (101 tackles) lead the way. The Lions offense is built on the run with a strong line and senior running back Chad Gleason, who has 173 carries for 1,086 yards and 17 touchdowns. The team has run for more than 3,000 yards. Walkersville has been waiting a lot longer to add another championship to its trophy case. The Lions won their only title in 1987, but they were in a close state final last season, falling 21-20 to Patuxent.

Class 1A

Edmondson (6-6) at Havre de Grace (9-2)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Coaches: Corey Johnson, Edmondson; Brian Eberhardt, Havre de Grace

Outlook: The Warriors are aiming for a second straight trip to the state final after falling to Fort Hill last season. They haven't won a championship since 1986, but they've advance to the final twice since 2010. Edmondson won its only title in 2006 and is in the semifinal for the first time since 2012. Havre de Grace is led by senior quarterback Mike Flosser, who has thrown for 1,792 yards and 20 touchdowns with six interceptions. He has also run for 755 yards and 13 touchdowns. Johnson called him "dynamic" and keeping him from putting points on the board will be key. The Red Storm will have to cut down on mistakes — eliminating such miscues as a couple of snaps over the quarterback's head in the regional final. They have a balanced offense, led by sophomore quarterback Teon Gardner, who took over in early October after senior Michael Taylor suffered a season-ending knee injury. Gardner has thrown for 1,476 yards and nine touchdowns with five interceptions. The Warriors also have one of the area's top field-goal kickers in Clay Harris, who has hit from 41 yards this season. So, the Red Storm will have to keep them from getting good field position. Harris hit four field goals in the regional final, tying a state record.

Advertisement
Advertisement