Maryland football playoff previews


River Hill's Aaron Wells breaks loose for a long run in a 2010 game. (Doug Kapustin/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)
December 2, 2011
Maryland 2A final
No. 19 Douglass vs. Middletown

When: Saturday, 3:30

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore

Tickets: $8

History: This is Douglass’s second appearance in a state final, but first since 1975. The Eagles (11-2) made seven state semifinal appearances between 1990 and 2009 but lost them all. Middletown (12-1) has lost all four of its previous state final appearances, including 21-14 to McDonough last year.

Watch for: Two multi-dimensional offenses that will keep their opponents guessing. Douglass’s running back duo of seniors Josef Hinnant and Emmanuel Smith combined to rush for 302 yards and three touchdowns in a 22-6 state semifinal win over Kent Island last week, but senior quarterback Taitor Reynolds has averaged 132.3 passing yards in three playoff games, and has a favorite target in 6-foot-5 junior receiver Paul Harris.


Douglass wide receiver Paul Harris leaps for a touchdown catch in a win over Crossland in October. (Jonathan Newton/WASHINGTON POST)

Senior linebacker Matthew Paul (18 tackles last week) leads a Douglass defense that will have to shut down a Middletown attack that has averaged more than 38 points per game this season and has been held to fewer than 27 points only once. Junior running back Zach Welch has rushed for 1,554 yards and 24 touchdowns this season, while senior quarterback Michael Pritts has thrown for 1,111 yards and 17 scores, including 11 to Syracuse commit Ben Lewis. Senior linebacker Collin Delauter (81 tackles), Lewis (66 tackles, six sacks) and Welch (five interceptions) lead a stout Knights’ defense.

Skinny: Douglass has won nine straight games and is the last Prince George’s team standing after starting the year 2-2. Middletown has been in the M&T Bank Stadium spotlight before and is the best opponent Douglass has faced all year.

— Greg Schimmel

Maryland 3A final
No. 10 River Hill vs. No. 12 Thomas Johnson

When: Saturday, 7

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore

Tickets: $8

History: River Hill seeks its third state title in five years. The Hawks went undefeated in 2007 and 2008 en route to back-to-back 2A titles. Thomas Johnson — a 4A playoff fixture in recent seasons — makes its first state final appearance since 1997. The Patriots won their only state title in 1982.

Watch for: Two squads trying to cap unlikely playoff runs. A month ago, Thomas Johnson (10-3) was fighting to secure its spot in the playoff field. But the Patriots have come on strong down the stretch with a five-game winning streak powered by running backs Brandan Berney, Richy Anderson and Doug Sponyoe.

River Hill (11-2) has won nine straight but needed an upset win over Atholton to take the 3A East title. The Hawks have dispatched their three playoff opponents by an average of 24 points per game.

Skinny: Thomas Johnson has rushed for almost 300 yards per game in its three playoff wins and the Patriots are hoping to send retiring Coach Ben Wright out with a title. River Hill will have to match the physicality of an offensive line that features five senior starters; expect the Hawks to try to control the clock with its rushing attack led by Villanova-bound back Aaron Wells.

— Eric Detweiler

More on AllMetSports.com

‘Old school’ coaching staff has Douglass in 2A final

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