Facing a Catonsville High School football squad that was known to hand the ball off on nearly every down, the Sherwood coaching staff decided to employ a rather simple strategy during Friday night's Class 4A North Region semifinal contest in Sandy Spring.
“The thing is they really don't pass that much and Coach [John] Zier established that Monday,” Sherwood senior Rich DiPietro said. “He said, 'This is what we're going to do: We're going to put everybody in the box pretty much and if they can beat us, they beat us. If they can't, they can't.'”
As it turned out, Catonsville, the defending 4A North champion, couldn't beat that defense. The Comets mustered just one touchdown late in the first half. Meanwhile, Warriors tailback Moses Vines (111 rushing yards) broke free for a trio of touchdown runs, including two in the fourth quarter, to lift Sherwood to a 26-7 victory. It will play top-seeded Westminster next week in the region final.
“We've got some great athletes on the team [and] real disciplined players and we just buckled down and did what we had to do,” DiPietro added.
Both defenses stiffened in the second half until Vines broke the game open on a 61-yard run on one of many off-tackle runs. His scamper put the ball on the Comets' 10-yard line and two plays later, Vines scored from 10 yards out for a 19-7 advantage.
“We kept pounding the ball, pounding the ball until we finally got a chance,” Vines said. “I saw a cut back lane and I took it and I just had to run to get some yards. It was a huge run. It was a blessing really. The hole just opened wide and it changed the whole momentum of the game.”
Trailing by two scores and limited by an inefficient passing game, Catonsville (7-4) never crossed the 50-yard on its next two possessions.
Vines put the game completely out of reach on a 3-yard touchdown run with 57 seconds remaining in the contest. The short drive was set up by Sherwood's defense, which forced a turnover on downs on Catonsville's 35-yard line with 3:50 left in the contest.
Sherwood (9-2) opened up a 13-0 lead in the first half on a 45-yard touchdown strike from Jordan Larsen to Brandon Loiacono with 6:50 left in the first quarter. Vines then scored on a 1-yard dive with 8:10 remaining before halftime following a 33-yard pass from Larsen to Jordan Johnson. The first extra point attempt was blocked.
Catonsville's lone score followed an interception by DeAndre' Lane (120 rushing yards). He later scored on a 6-yard run with 26 seconds left in the half.
Sherwood 26, Catonsville 7
Catonsville (7-4) 0 7 0 0 — 7
Sherwood (9-2) 6 7 0 13 — 26
SH — Brandon Loiacono 45 pass from Jordan Larsen (kick blocked)
SH — Moses Vines1 run (Jake Ryder kick)
CA — DeAndre' Lane 6 run (Garrett Wack kick)
SH — Moses Vines 10 run (run failed)
SH — Moses Vines 3 run (Jake Ryder kick)
Catonsville — DeAndre' Lane 25-120, Julian Singletary 12-51, Joseth Hylton 13-42, Justin Sprankle 2-(-16).
Sherwood — Moses Vines 19-111, Jordan Larsen 7-35, Maliki Roy 2-21, Elijah Spottswood 3-16.
Catonsville — Justin Sprankle 1-5-(-3)-0, Joseth Hylton 0-1-0-0
Sherwood — Jordan Larsen 4-7-104-1
Catonsville —Joseth Hylton 1-(-3)
Sherwood — Brandon Loiacono 3-71, Jordan Johnson 1-33.