The 40th annual Turkey Bowl: No. 14 Ballou (9-1) vs. H.D. Woodson (8-4)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

When: Thursday, 11 a.m.

Where: Eastern High School, 17th and East Capitol streets NE. Because of construction at Eastern, parking lots at RFK Stadium will be open.

Admission: Adults, $10; Students, $8

How they got here: Ballou, the DCIAA's East Division champion, defeated Wilson, 43-7, in the semifinals. Woodson, the East runner-up, earned a 26-7 semifinal victory over Dunbar. Ballou defeated Woodson, 14-8, on Oct. 16.

Playoff history: Ballou last played in the Turkey Bowl in 2006, when the Knights won their first DCIAA championship, defeating Dunbar, 34-33.

Defending champion Woodson is in the game for the sixth time in nine years. The Warriors defeated Dunbar, 24-6, last season, and are seeking consecutive titles for the first time since 1994. With a victory, Woodson would earn its 10th championship, breaking a tie with Dunbar for the most in the city.

When Ballou has the ball: The strong offense begins with the line, led by 6-foot-3, 300-pound senior tackle Michael Pearson, with senior Johnathan Parrott and juniors Lamonte Clark and Jamar Lewter also tough to move. That line has given junior quarterback Delonte Edwards plenty of time to operate. Edwards has thrown for 1,466 yards and 23 touchdowns with only five interceptions and spreads the ball around well. His top target is senior Larry Pinkard, to whom Ballou will get the ball in a number of ways; Pinkard has scored 16 touchdowns -- nine on passes, four rushes, two interception returns and a punt return. Senior running back Eric Shaw is averaging more than 10 yards per carry and has surpassed 100 yards in each game this season.

When H.D. Woodson has the ball: It's tough to find a better passing combination than senior quarterback Ricardo Young (Virginia Tech) and senior wide receiver Alonzo Russell. Young (2,298 yards and 21 touchdowns) has a terrific arm, and it is just as strong when he is on the run. At 6-4, Russell (55 catches, 1,047 yards) can outleap defenders, as well as speed past them. When they met up with Ballou in the regular season, though, the Knights' secondary of Pinkard, Daray Crawford and Cory Queen held Young to his worst game of the season (2 of 14, 47 yards, one interception), albeit in the rain. The key to the Warriors offense might be senior running back Dejohn Evans, who ran for 113 yards and touchdown and caught a scoring pass in the semifinal victory over Dunbar. Evans forces defenses to play up a bit, and, when he's successful running the ball, Young and his receivers have more open field.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company