Flint Hill, Potomac School meet with MAC title at stake

Game to watch: Flint Hill (6-2) at Potomac School (5-3), Saturday, 3 p.m.

Potomac School Coach Pat Duffy has made a conscious decision not to give his players “rah-rah” speeches about this week’s rivalry game with Flint Hill, which will serve as the Mid-Atlantic Conference championship game and carries state playoff implications. It is also one of the fiercest rivalries in the region.

“This is our rival,” Duffy said. “There’s nothing we really need to say to get them up for the game.”

Speaking to his players about the importance of this game is pointless to Duffy, whose team upended Flint Hill 19-14 on the final afternoon of the season last year to capture the league title and earn a playoff berth. A year later, not much has changed. Both teams started slow – Flint Hill lost its first two games and Potomac School started the season 1-2, but both found rhythm as the season wore on, thanks to strong running games and a little bit of good fortune along the way. Flint Hill has won six straight, while Potomac School has won four of five and used a game-winning two-point conversion to beat Bishop Ireton 30-29 last weekend, preserving their playoff hopes and raining the stakes this week against their rival.

“Potomac is a real good team,” Flint Hill quarterback Stevie Peterson said. “Biggest game, probably of my life, so I’m looking forward to that.”

In last season’s edition of the rivalry, Potomac School quarterback Kevin Havermann threw the game-winning touchdown pass and earned his first career win as a sophomore. He and Flint Hill’s Peterson (1,071 yards passing, 17 touchdowns) have been steady under center this season. But both teams’ signature trait in 2012 has been their ability to run the football with deep stables of backs. Flint Hill’s Cameron Vaughn and Connor Chess have emerged as one of the top running back tandems in the MAC. Chess (687 yards, 13 touchdowns) and Vaughn (591, six touchdowns) are two of the most productive runners in the league and will be squaring off against the Panthers’ Jalen Broome and Johnny Read, who have rushed for more than 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns combined this season.

Flint Hill has scored at least 42 points in the last four wins — which included a 60-0 win over St. James and a 62-21 win over Maret.

Broome referenced Duffy’s use of the phrase “locked in” as this week’s most important credo, and establishing the run is the top priority and likely the difference in which rival will move on to the Virginia Independent School Athletic Association playoffs.

“You can’t really ask for anything better. Rivalry game, conference championship,” said Duffy. “A win for both teams is going to a long way.”

Gonzaga regroups following big win

Gonzaga pulled off a big win against DeMatha last Saturday, but the Eagles (7-2) have had little time to celebrate. The superstorm Sandy knocked out power for many on Gonzaga’s team and, like most programs in the area, forced Coach Aaron Brady to alter the Eagles’ weekly practice routine.

But this extra focus isn’t such a bad thing considering the circumstances surrounding Saturday’s game with St. John’s (5-4). This year’s edition of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference rivalry, which stretches back to 1928, will have major playoff implications.

A Gonzaga win would award the Eagles with the second seed in the WCAC playoffs and set up a semifinal round rematch with DeMatha. A St. John’s win coupled with a DeMatha victory over McNamara would create a three-way tie for second place to be settled by a tiebreaker scenario.

“Of course, in this type of rivalry game, you throw the records out the window,” Brady said. “Our guys showed last week the importance of never giving up and we’ll have to do the same again this week against St. John’s.”

Around the IAC

Landon’s defense held Bullis running back Devonte Williams to 37 yards rushing last week, the lowest output of the season for the sophomore, and the Bears also limited the equally speedy Yusef Muhammad from scrambling outside the pocket as he had done in previous weeks (just 37 yards rushing.) The Bears (6-2), who travel to Georgetown Prep (3-5) on Friday, can win the IAC league title outright with a win over St. Albans (4-4) on Nov. 10....

Statistically, Bullis (7-1) has two of the most productive players in the league. Defensive end Peter Angeh has posted 63 tackles this season, with 20 (8.5 sacks) tackles for loss, while linebacker Steven Attah (38 tackles, 8.5 TFL) has blocked two kicks this season, including an extra point in the third quarter last week against Landon...

St. Albans must win this weekend against St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (5-4) in order to stay in the IAC title hunt, and last week’s bye should certainly help. St. Albans was drilled 29-0 two weeks ago by Bullis, registering just 24 yards rushing and allowing Angeh to record five sacks.

St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes, meanwhile, started 5-0, but has since been on a four-game skid that has included losses to Landon and Episcopal by a combined four points in successive weeks. The Saints have one of the leagues gems at running back in Darius Manora, who rushed for 1,152 yards and 14 touchdowns and has recorded 20 or more carries in five games this season.

More coverage at AllMetSports.com

Weekend schedule: Friday | Saturday

The Post Top 20 | Coaches’ poll

All-Met Watch: Week 9

Playoff scenarios: Maryland | Virginia

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