Maryland 4A football: Suitland beats Meade to advance to state championship game

November 30, 2013

When Meade’s offensive linemen stood opposite Suitland’s defensive front for the opening play of Saturday’s Maryland 4A state semifinal, they dwarfed it. The Mustangs’ linemen, most 6-3 or taller, most 230 pounds or heavier, could look down on the crowns of the host Rams’ helmets with their knees bent, and their collective wingspans looked double Suitland’s.

Yet being undersized is now an afterthought to the Rams (13-0), whose relative lack of height and weight was supposed to knock them out of the Maryland state title race long before this. But as they have all season, the Rams adjusted, challenging Meade’s girth with a blend of speed and fearless physicality that sparked them to a 46-25 win.

Suitland, which last won a state title in 2006, will face Northwest in the 4A state final on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

“That’s the underrated part of the story in my opinion,” Suitland Coach Ed Shields said. “These people are huge! They are huge. We were hanging on by our lives. We were fighting.”

Initially, Meade’s line looked able to clear a path at will, as running back Kyle Evans took the game’s first play from scrimmage 68 yards for a touchdown. The Mustangs’ defensive line broke through just as easily early on, pressuring Suitland quarterback Wesley Wolfolk into big-loss sacks or panicky incompletions.

The Rams beat the Mustangs, behind Robert Wigfall's 138 rushing yards and three touchdowns, to advance to the Maryland 4A state title game against Northwest. (Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC.//The Washington Post)

But Suitland’s offensive line started to “take it personally,” as quarterback Wesley Wolfolk put it, combating size with execution and nailing blocking assignments to open holes. The line didn’t need to clear much room for running back Robert Wigfall, who broke off two touchdown runs of more than 20 yards in the second quarter alone to give Suitland a 19-14 halftime lead.

Wigfall scored on a 72-yard touchdown run in the second half, and Wolfolk added two rushing touchdowns of his own as part of a 203-yard, four-score day for the Rams’ ground game. Once he found time to pass, Wolfolk also found his range — or perhaps, more accurately, he found Nick Nelson. Wolfolk hit Nelson with 64 and 50-yard touchdown passes during a 281-yard passing day in which he connected with six different receivers.

“The offensive line did a great job, and Wes did well,” said linebacker Anthony Jackson, who smashed through to Meade’s backfield throughout the game. “The receivers were catching the ball. The offense was great.”

By the fourth quarter, it was the Rams who stood tall, holding a 14-point lead that would balloon to 21 by game’s end, making it two straight years that Meade’s season ended in the state semifinals at the hands of a dominant Prince George’s County team. Last year, the Mustangs (10-3) lost to eventual 4A champion Wise in the semis.


Meade's Travis Chidebe reaches for a first down as he is brought down by Suitland's Josh Burke during Saturday’s Maryland 4A semifinal. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

“We just try to be physical,” Wolfolk said of the key to his team’s success this season. “That’s been our motto every game. We want to get stronger and faster every week. Starting out the season working out, all we wanted to do was get to the state championship. Now we’re here.”

Chelsea Janes covers the Nationals for The Washington Post.
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