GAME OF THE WEEK

Patuxent at La Plata

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last season's meeting: Did not play.

Records: Patuxent (4-0, 2-0); La Plata (3-1, 1-1)

Last game: Patuxent beat Chopticon, 61-14; La Plata lost to Thomas Stone, 7-6

Each week, Southern Maryland Extra will go to key players to preview the key game of the week. This week, La Plata senior Raheem Archer and Patuxent senior Anthony Baldwin size up their teams.

Archer on La Plata

* Offense

"We like to run. That's definitely our strong point. We have myself, Titus Green, Marcus Proctor and Dennis Williamson, and we all take turns coming at you. Our offensive line may be small, but they get the job done."

Key stat: Green leads the pack of running backs, averaging 9.9 yards per carry.

* Defense

"The defense is the strength of our team. We know Patuxent has put up a lot of points this season, and we've heard all about their two running backs, but we're a different team than they've faced before."

Key stat: La Plata has held each of its four opponents to 15 points or less, including a shutout of Chopticon in Week 3.

* Special teams:

"We usually end up with pretty good field position with Titus and Marcus back there returning kicks. The boys up front block, and all those two need is a little room."

Key fact: The Warriors often mix their PAT attempts -- sometimes going for two and sometimes relying on place kicker Jason Batty.

* Key to victory:

"We have to be ready to play football. Last week I don't think we were. Everyone has to come together because they're not going to be easy to stop. I don't know how they've been scoring so much, but I know somebody's been doing something wrong. We've got to do it right."

Baldwin on Patuxent

* Offense

"Our line has done a great job of blocking this year and Terry [Caulley] and I have just been following the blocks. We take whatever the defense gives us, and if that means throwing the ball, then Judd [Vail] will open things up for us with the pass."

Key stat: Patuxent has scored 175 points in four games, an average of 43.8 points per game.

* Defense

"I know we've been scoring a lot, but the defense is really the backbone of our team. We've done a good job this year of pinning our opponents in their own territory so our offense gets the ball back in good field position."

Key stat: The Panthers have yielded a conference-low 21 points in four games.

* Special teams:

"With Brendan Connell, we have one of the best kickers in the conference. We don't have to go for two points like a lot of teams. In fact, we've only gone for two one time this year. Plus, he can pin teams down inside their own 15 on kickoffs."

Key stat: Connell has converted 20 of 24 PAT attempts this season.

* Key to victory:

"Scoring early -- and often -- like we have really helps take the pressure off, and that's something we have to continue to do. We don't want to be in a dogfight."

Sneak Peek

* Chopticon at McDonough

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last season's meeting: McDonough, 33-8.

Records: Chopticon (1-3, 0-2); McDonough (1-3, 1-2).

Last game: Chopticon lost to Patuxent, 61-14; McDonough lost to Westlake, 53-21.

Outlook: Both teams are coming off big losses; both have a lot to prove to themselves. WR Jamie Byroads played a limited role for Chopticon last week -- he caught the game's opening touchdown before reinjuring the hip pointer he suffered two weeks ago. Byroads is probable for Friday, Coach Andy Palko said. If Byroads plays, he and QB Jamar Mason could give the Rams' secondary fits. McDonough has gotten good production from RBs Nick Carrington and Travis Woodland. Both teams, however, struggled to stop the run last week -- Chopticon yielded 241 yards rushing to Patuxent's Anthony Baldwin and Terry Caulley; McDonough gave up 287 yards to Westlake's Recardo Evans and Gonzie Gray.

* Great Mills at Thomas Stone

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last season's meeting: Thomas Stone, 41-6.

Records: Great Mills (3-1, 2-1); Thomas Stone (4-0, 3-0).

Last game: Great Mills beat Leonardtown, 22-12; Thomas Stone beat La Plata, 7-6.

Outlook: Expect this game to be much closer than last year's romp by Thomas Stone. The Hornets are much improved from last season, when they went 0-10, and are playing especially well on defense. Senior DE Roy Olsen has 36 tackles through four games, including 10 sacks. This week he will face the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference's premier running back in Marcus Whalen. Whalen has gained 776 yards rushing on 80 carries. Great Mills will counter with powerful FB Clifford Dukes.

* Calvert at Lackey

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last season's meeting: Calvert, 21-20.

Records: Calvert (3-1, 1-1); Lackey (1-3, 1-1).

Last game: Calvert beat Northern, 41-6; Lackey lost to Central, 24-22.

Outlook: Things won't get any easier for the struggling Chargers this week. Calvert -- led by QB Orion Canine, RB Sean Mizzer and WRs Marshall Cooper and Treaven Wills -- has one of the most powerful offenses in the SMAC. The Cavaliers are averaging 38 points per game this season, and are equally effective on the ground and through the air. Calvert's defense has yielded nine points per game, second in the conference to Patuxent. Lackey, led by RB Martin Queen, was scoreless the first two games of the season, but has scored a total of 40 points in its past two outings.

* Westlake at Northern

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last season's meeting: Westlake, 43-9.

Records: Westlake (4-0, 3-0); Northern (0-4, 0-3).

Last game: Westlake beat McDonough, 53-21; Northern lost to Calvert, 41-6.

Outlook: Slow starts seem to be becoming a habit for the four-time defending SMAC champion Wolverines. Luckily for them, so do fast finishes. After falling behind Calvert, 22-0, in the first half two weeks ago, Westlake came back for a 25-22 win in double overtime. Last week, McDonough took a 13-7 first-quarter lead before Westlake rallied to win, 53-21. This week, the Wolverines should be able to move the ball from the start against the Patriots. Northern has been outscored, 122-18, so far this season.

* Gwynn Park at Leonardtown

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last season's meeting: Did not play.

Records: Gwynn Park (2-2); Leonardtown (0-4).

Last game: Gwynn Park beat Southern, 22-0; Leonardtown lost to Great Mills, 22-12.

Outlook: Gwynn Park of the Prince George's 2A league is seeing plenty of the SMAC this season. The Yellow Jackets shut out Lackey, 34-0, the first week of the season and then lost a close one, 21-20, to Chopticon in Week 2. Now it's Leonardtown, a team that has struggled from the beginning, but has shown improvement recently. Blown out in the first two games of the year by a combined 82-15, the Raiders have been more competitive in the last two games. Leonardtown is led by all-SMAC QB Jason Schacter, who has completed 26 of 44 passes this season for 292 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

Rushing Leaders

Name

School

Att.

Yards

Avg.

TDs

Marcus Whalen

Thomas Stone

80

776

9.7

8

Terry Caulley

Patuxent

65

751

11.6

8

Sean Mizzer

Calvert

53

516

9.7

9

Titus Green

La Plata

41

404

9.9

5

Clifford Dukes

Great Mills

61

391

6.4

5

Passing Leaders

Name

School

Com.

Att.

Int.

Yards

TDs

Jamar Mason

Chopticon

22

60

5

472

6

Orion Canine

Calvert

33

50

1

464

6

Travis Peters

McDonough

24

56

0

421

1

Receiving Leaders

Name

School

Rec.

Yards

Avg.

TDs

Travis Woodland

McDonough

14

246

17.6

0

Jamie Byroads

Chopticon

13

240

18.5

4

Treaven Wills

Calvert

9

129

14.3

3

BY THE NUMBERS

2

Touchdowns La Plata has held Thomas Stone's offense to over the past two seasons. Still, the Warriors have lost both games. La Plata fell, 6-0, to Thomas Stone in 1998 and lost by a 7-6 score on Friday.

109

Percentage increase in Westlake senior Gonzie Gray's rushing yardage after last Friday's win over McDonough. Gray had totaled 138 yards rushing on 25 carries through the first three games of the year. After a 150-yard performance on 16 attempts against the Rams, Gray has 288 yards rushing on 41 carries.

155

Combined points scored by Calvert, Patuxent and Westlake in wins last Friday. Calvert defeated Northern, 41-6; Patuxent defeated Chopticon, 61-14; Westlake defeated McDonough, 53-21.

CAPTION: Patuxent FB-LB Anthony Baldwin

CAPTION: La Plata RB-LB Raheem Archer

CAPTION: Lackey's LaVar Gray completes a run for a big gain last week against Central. Lackey lost the close contest, 24-22. The Chargers, 1-1 in the SMAC and 1-3 overall, will have to figure out a way to stop Calvert's powerful and productive offense on Friday night. The Cavaliers, 1-1 in the conference and 3-1 overall, are coming off a 41-6 thrashing of Northern.