By Rich Campbell
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, November 26, 2006
After Potomac running back Deante Steele scored his second touchdown of the first quarter against Colonial Forge in yesterday's AAA Northwestern Region Division 5 championship, some spectators began discussing whether the Panthers' offense or defense is more exciting.
Both sides made strong cases in No. 10 Potomac's convincing 59-7 victory at home. The Panthers rushed for 352 yards and six touchdowns, while their defense intercepted three passes and shut down the Eagles' hard-nosed running game.
"I can't choose," said an amused Steele, who also plays defensive back. "Both sides play exceptionally well. I'll let the fans decide that one."
Potomac won its first region title since 1997, while Colonial Forge (9-3) was denied its first region crown. The Panthers (11-1) practiced in their gymnasium early in the week because of bad weather, and they saw a disproportionate ratio of boys' basketball region championship banners to football titles. They were determined to help change that, said cornerback Josh Asare, who contributed two interceptions and scored on a blocked punt return.
Steele led the charge on offense, rushing just six times, but compiling 161 yards and three touchdowns.
Potomac Coach Tony Lilly emphasized the importance of scoring early and often against a Colonial Forge team that likes to control the ball with a methodical running game. Steele came through with a 36-yard touchdown run less than two minutes in. Then, at the 5-minute 32-second mark of the first quarter, he burst up the middle for a 55-yard touchdown.
"The people we have up front do a heck of a job blocking," Steele said. "We have faith in our line, and they came through today."
Defensively, the Panthers mixed up their formations to confuse Colonial Forge quarterback Colin McManus. Potomac played cover-3 instead of the cover-2 that McManus expected, and he said he had trouble navigating the Panthers' ball-hawking secondary.
"Our DBs feel like we're the best secondary in the state," Asare said. "That's how we approach everything. [Everyone] locks down their side."
No. 10 Potomac 59 Colonial Forge 7 No Rest for the Defense: Potomac has surrendered only 30 points combined in the last five games. The Panthers have now won nine straight. Up Next: Potomac will host Phoebus, the Eastern Region champion, in a state semifinal Saturday afternoon.