Gwynn Park begins 3A title defense at Westlake

Thursday, Nov. 16, 2006

Last fall, the road to the 3A state football title went through Brandywine.

Gwynn Park High School made good on its status as the top seed in the classification by capturing its first state football championship with an overtime victory in the title game against Westminster.

But beginning Friday night, Gwynn Park (9-1) will go from hosts to visitors as the Yellow Jackets will have to spend their postseason on the road in order to get back to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore and play for another championship. Gwynn Park’s opponent in the 3A South Region semifinals is the same one it faced in its playoff opener last year, Westlake. This time, the Yellow Jackets will be heading to Charles County for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Friday.

‘‘It’s really no more difficult playing on the road,” said Gwynn Park coach Danny Hayes. ‘‘I really like playing away games. I’d have my homecoming game away if I could. One thing about us is we’re going to be prepared. We know that Westlake has a very good team on both sides of the ball. We’ll have to minimize the mistakes and the penalties. We’ve worked hard all season and we’re looking forward to going there.”

Gwynn Park running back Jerrel Coles leads the Yellow Jackets’ ground attack with 801 yards and seven touchdowns on 111 carries. Nygee Carmichael and Ryan Currie have each rushed for more than 250 yards and freshman Khalik Shepherd has added another 150. Quarterback Anthony Green has been used judiciously, completing 48 of 78 passes for 696 yards and eight touchdowns with only one interception.

Gwynn Park reached the state 3A summit last year courtesy of a stingy defense, and thus far the Yellow Jackets have been nearly as strong. Although the Yellow Jackets have only registered two shutouts, they have limited three other opponents to a single touchdown and two others to two scores. The Yellow Jackets have allowed only 46 points during their current six-game winning streak.

Both Gwynn Park and Westlake will head into this meeting having won six straight contests since a late September setback against a county foe. The Yellow Jackets were blanked, 22-0, by undefeated Friendly, the top seed in the 3A South Region and among the favorites to win the state title. Westlake suffered a 21-17 loss to McDonough, but the Wolverines have since been perfect.

Westlake began the season with three straight shutouts before losing at McDonough. Like Gwynn Park, Westlake is heading into the playoffs on a six-game win streak although the Wolverines have relied on their offense. Westlake is averaging more than 42 points per contest during the win streak, but the Wolverines have allowed nearly 100 points during that span.

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