Football: Playoff previews -- Gazette.Net


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Urbana at Seneca Valley

When: 7 p.m., Friday

What you should know: Urbana (8-3) may have surprised some with its overtime victory against Damascus last week, but they shouldn't have. This is a powerhouse program that has been on a roll ever since speedy sophomore running back Raekwon Gray became eligible, losing only to Middletown. The reward for beating the Hornets is a 3A West Region title game matchup against Seneca Valley (10-1), the school that has won more state titles than any other. The Eagles also have made adjustments, moving 1,000 yard-plus rusher James Jones-Williams to linebacker only and moving top receiver Kevin Joppy to running back. SV coach Fred Kim likes to keep his players fresh and Jones-Williams has improved the defense. This game could come down to the QBs, and both Seneca's Calvin Reighard and Urbana's Donovan Pannell have shown they can lead their respective teams to victory against quality competiton.

Suitland at Henry A. Wise

When: 1 p.m., Saturday

What you should know: Henry A. Wise High School is the top-ranked public school football team in Maryland and the Pumas (11-0) appeared in the 2009 and 2010 state title games. Still, this year's team might be the best in school history and is the favorite to win the Class 4A state crown. Standing in the way is their nemisis, Suitland (10-1). The Rams own a 4-1 record against Wise since 2007, including a 21-20 victory last year to knock the Pumas out of the playoffs. Wise has not really been challenged this year, winning every game by 20 or more points. They should expect to be challenged this week. Wise has one of the best offensive lines in the state opening huge holes for speedy running backs. They also have a defense that averages giving up only 3.4 points per game. Suitland counters with top skill players, including 2011 All-Gazette Player of the Year Anthony Squire and receiver Taivon Jacobs (Ohio State).

Sherwood at Westminster

When: 7 p.m., Friday

What you should know: The Westminster offense will be a challenge for the Warriors (9-2). The Owls (11-0) do not huddle, or call signals. All plays are scripted, so the defense gets no time to rest, make adjustments, or even change personnel. It has led to a team averaging nearly 44 points per game, and most of those were blowouts where they could have run it up more, if so inclined. Westminster scored 51 points on Blake in last week's playoff game.

Northwest at Quince Orchard

When: 7 p.m., Friday

What you should know: In the first meeting this year between these two teams, Quince Orchard (10-1) defeated the Jaguars, 24-10. Second meetings tend to be more competitive, so Northwest (8-3) might pull off the upset. The Cougars have not played a competitive game since the Week 5 loss to Seneca Valley. Matt Choi has stepped in at quarterback to lead the Cougars after the season-ending injury to Mikey Murtaugh. QO's real strength is its defense.

Gwynn Park at Frederick Douglass

When: 1 p.m., Saturday

What you should know: On paper, Gwynn Park (10-1) should be a clear favorite in this Class 2A South Region championship game. The Yellow Jackets defeated the Eagles (10-1) by 23 points (39-16) in a Week 3 matchup. In that game, Gwynn Park was coming off an 8-6 loss to Friendly and Douglass was enjoying a surprising 2-0 start, including a win against private school power Archbishop Spalding. Both teams should be ready this week. Freshman QB Devin Butler led the Eagles to a come-from-behind win on Saturday.

Walkersville at Middletown

When: 7 p.m., Friday

What you should know: The déjà vu must be a little tiring to the Walkersville players and coaches. In 2011, the Lions (10-1) defeated every team that lined up against them but one. Middletown (11-0) won the regular season finale, and then the playoffs. This year the Knights dominated the regular season matchup, 31-6, thereby entering this game as the clear favorite. The Knights have a top offensive line and the running of Jess Powell and Zach Welch, plus a defense that shut down the Lions' Avery Ezell.

Brunswick at Fort Hill

When: 7 p.m., Friday

What you should know: Since losing 47-0 to Boonsboro, the Railroaders (7-4) have won three straight, including knocking Boonsboro out of the playoffs. They also own a quality win against South Hagerstown that kept the Rebels (8-2) from making the playoffs. Fort Hill (9-2) and Brunswick have one common opponent, North Hagerstown. The Railroaders and their high-flying offense fared better, losing 35-21. The Hubs defeated the Sentinels 54-16.

DeMatha vs. Good Counsel

When: 2 p.m., Sunday in Annapolis

What you should know: Good Counsel has been the top team in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference for three years. Before that, it was DeMatha for six years. The regular season matchup between these two in Olney was competitive, with the Falcons getting an early lead and holding on for the 13-10 victory. However, DeMatha was the hot team at the end of the game. Both teams have top college prospects on their rosters. This game should be competitive.