Sneak Peek

* La Plata at Lackey

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last season's meeting: La Plata, 12-6.

Records: La Plata (6-3, 4-3); Lackey (2-7, 2-5).

Last game: La Plata beat Northern, 49-7; Lackey lost to Chopticon, 30-8.

Outlook: Since its overtime loss to Westlake four weeks ago, La Plata has been on a tear. The Warriors have scored 35, 37 and 49 points in their past three games--all victories. Junior RB-DB Titus Green crossed the 1,000-yard rushing mark last week when he had 210 yards and three touchdowns against Northern. Aside from its 40-0 victory over Great Mills two weeks ago, Lackey has managed just 8.2 points per game.

* Great Mills at Patuxent

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last season's meeting: Did not play.

Records: Great Mills (4-5, 2-5); Patuxent (6-3, 4-3).

Last game: Great Mills beat Walbrook, 41-14; Patuxent lost to Westlake, 45-12.

Outlook: The Panthers' troubles began with a 41-0 loss to Thomas Stone three weeks ago and haven't stopped. Undefeated in its first six games, Patuxent has now dropped three straight. Its once-potent offense--which averaged 44.3 points per game in the six wins--has averaged five points in the three losses. Great Mills--much improved since last season's winless campaign--won't be a pushover. Great Mills RB-DB Colbert Barnes rushed for 126 yards and one touchdown last week and also returned an interception 65 yards for a score.

* Chopticon at Northern

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last season's meeting: Northern, 20-14.

Records: Chopticon (5-4, 4-3); Northern (1-8, 1-6).

Last game: Chopticon beat Lackey, 30-8; Northern lost to La Plata, 49-7.

Outlook: The Patriots' secondary should start getting ready now. The Braves, winners of four straight, like to go to the air, and they like to go deep. Last week, QB Jamar Mason found WR Jamie Byroads six times for 180 yards and three touchdowns. The air assault is balanced nicely by RB David Showalter. Northern, led by senior RB Donte Hurley, has found more success this season with the run than the pass, but the Patriots have struggled to find the end zone. They have scored a conference-low 60 points this season.

* Leonardtown at Calvert

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last season's meeting: Calvert, 13-6.

Records: Leonardtown (0-9, 0-7); Calvert (7-2, 5-2).

Last game: Leonardtown lost to Thomas Stone, 32-8; Calvert beat McDonough, 31-14.

Outlook: For the first time in 36 years of Calvert football, the Cavaliers have won seven games in a single season. They hope to add an eighth win to that total this week, and should have little trouble doing so against the winless Raiders. Junior RB Sean Mizzer, who missed last week's game with a sprained ankle, is questionable. He needs 34 yards to reach 1,000 for the season. Leonardtown QB Jason Schacter threw for 224 yards last week--119 of them to WR Tommy Davis--but the Raiders' defense has struggled, giving up nearly 30 points per game.

* McDonough at Wakefield

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last season's meeting: Did not play.

Records: McDonough (4-5); Wakefield (3-6).

Last game: McDonough lost to Calvert, 31-14; Wakefield lost to Mount Vernon, 26-12.

Outlook: The Rams completed their SMAC schedule at .500 last week; this week, a victory over the Arlington, Va., school would put them at .500 overall. Last week against Calvert, junior QB Travis Peters completed seven passes to senior WR Travis Woodland for 78 yards, and junior RB Nick Carrington churned out 86 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. All three offensive standouts could have big games against a Wakefield team that has yielded 237 points this year.

Game of the Week

Thomas Stone at Westlake

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last season's meeting: Westlake, 21-18.

Records: Thomas Stone (9-0, 7-0 SMAC); Westlake (8-1, 6-1).

Last game: Thomas Stone beat Leonardtown, 32-8; Westlake beat Patuxent, 45-12.

Each week, Southern Maryland Extra asks key players to preview the game of the week. This week, Thomas Stone's Mike Finamore and Westlake's Denis Hicks size up their teams as they get set for the game that--for the second consecutive year--will decide the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference champion.

Finamore on Thomas Stone

* Highlight of the season so far:

"I'm very surprised that we're 9-0 at this point. We had a lot of doubters at the beginning of the season, and we've proved everybody wrong. That's been the highlight."

Key stat: Not only have they been winning, the Cougars have been winning big. Their average margin of victory is 24 points.

* On last year's Westlake game:

"We did a lot of things wrong, that's what I remember. We'd go inside, and they'd bounce out and take it all the way for a touchdown. We didn't play their wing-T offense right. But this year we've already gone against the wing-T three times, so we should know how to stop it."

Key stat: Last season, Westlake running backs Recardo Evans and Gonzie Gray combined to rush for 287 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries in the Wolverines' win over Thomas Stone.

* What should be Westlake's biggest concern?

"That we have two running backs that are fully ready to go and have over 1,000 yards rushing this season already.

Key stat: Marcus Whalen (1,362 yards) and Finamore (1,004) are the first two running backs in Thomas Stone history to surpass 1,000 yards in the same regular season. RBs Richard Dudley and Shawn Butler did it in 1996, but Dudley did not go over the 1,000-yard mark until the playoffs.

* Key to victory:

"I think this is going to be a defensive battle. Our defense, which is much better than the last couple of years, has to keep playing like we have been. If we do that, and keep everybody healthy for this game, we'll be ready to go."

Hicks on Westlake

* Highlight of the season so far:

"When we lost to Chopticon. I know most teams wouldn't consider that a highlight, but it was for us, because it brought us closer. It was a wake-up call for us. We've been playing better since then because we knew what we had to do. Like Coach [Dominic Zaccarelli] says, when our backs are against a wall, we come out fighting."

Key stat: Westlake has given up more than twice as many points this season as Thomas Stone. The Cougars have yielded 62 points; the Wolverines 129.

* On last year's Thomas Stone game:

"I didn't play because my ankle was hurt, but I just remember the intensity from both teams. How badly both teams wanted to win. You could see it in everyone's eyes."

Key stat: Westlake held Thomas Stone's All-Met RB Marcus Whalen to 78 yards last season on 15 carries. It was the only game last season in which Whalen was held to less than 100 yards.

* What should be Thomas Stone's biggest concern?

"Their biggest concern should be that we are ready to play. They've been blowing everybody out this year, but this is going to be a football game. They haven't played a caliber of team like us yet."

Key fact: Westlake, the four-time defending SMAC champions, has won the conference title each year since it entered the league and is 4-0 against Thomas Stone.

* Key to victory:

"Our offensive line has been doing real well, and they have to continue that. It doesn't matter which quarterback we have out there, Larry [Johnson] or Nick [Rose], our team has confidence in both of them. We just have to execute."

MPSSAA STANDINGS

Eight teams in each of Maryland's four classifications qualify for the football playoffs, which start Nov. 12 and 13. The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association's points system is used to determine the teams. Each region's top team--by average points awarded per game--automatically qualifies, and the next-best four, regardless of region, round out the field.

The 10 Southern Maryland Athletic Conference teams in Class 3A make up the South Region, so one SMAC team will automatically qualify for the postseason. Lackey is the SMAC's only non-3A football team; it competes in the 2A South region.

BY THE NUMBERS

4,989

Combined rushing yards for Patuxent's Terry Caulley (1,478), Thomas Stone's Marcus Whalen (1,362) and Mike Finamore (1,004), and La Plata's Titus Green (1,145), the four SMAC running backs who have gained 1,000 or more yards this season.

60

Completion percentage for Calvert junior QB Orion Canine. Canine has completed a conference-best 73 of 121 passes for 1,117 yards. He has thrown 15 touchdown passes and five interceptions.

283

Total rushing yards for Westlake in the first half of its 45-12 win over Patuxent last Friday.

Rushing Leaders

Name

School

Att.

Yards

Avg.

TDs

Terry Caulley

Patuxent

189

1,478

7.8

17

Marcus Whalen

Thomas Stone

135

1,362

10.1

13

Titus Green

La Plata

138

1,145

8.3

13

Mike Finamore

Thomas Stone

115

1,004

8.7

11

Sean Mizzer

Calvert

106

966

9.1

12

Passing Leaders

Name

School

Com.

Att.

Int.

Yards

TDs

Orion Canine

Calvert

73

121

5

1,117

15

Travis Peters

McDonough

74

149

4

950

4

Jamar Mason

Chopticon

41

114

7

907

13

Jason Schacter

Leonardtown

66

137

10

918

9

Receiving Leaders

Name

School

Rec.

Yards

Avg.

TDs

Travis Woodland

McDonough

36

514

14.3

1

Tommy Davis

Leonardtown

28

467

16.7

7

Jamie Byroads

Chopticon

27

596

22.1

10

Marshall Cooper

Calvert

18

284

15.8

2

Treaven Wills

Calvert

14

304

21.7

7

CAPTION: La Plata's Titus Green, shown tackling Patuxent's Anthony Baldwin on Oct. 1, has led a resurgence in which the Warriors have averaged 40 points in three straight victories. Meanwhile, the Panthers, once 6-0, have been shut down in three straight losses.

CAPTION: Thomas Stone RB-LB Mike Finamore

CAPTION: Westlake RB Denis Hicks