Eleanor Roosevelt's football players happily walked off the field at Polytechnic High to the buses that brought them to Baltimore for the Maryland 4A state semifinals on Saturday.
The Raiders' day began early, with a 7:30 a.m. departure from Greenbelt and an 11 a.m. kickoff against Patterson, and it did not end with their dominating 52-6 victory. The Raiders headed to their school to eat lunch and watch game films of No. 4 Gaithersburg (11-1), their opponent in the 4A final.
"We had an early day," said Roosevelt Coach Rick Houchens, whose team is seeking its first state title. Roosevelt lost to Sherwood in the 4A final in 1996. "But we've got to see what we're going to face [in the finals]. We've got to get going to get ready."
Saturday's victory was a good start for the fifth-ranked Raiders, who extended their winning streak to six games. They held the Baltimore City school, which was making its sixth playoff appearance since 1993, to a season-low six points. Patterson entered the contest averaging 34.4 points per game. After yielding a 74-yard touchdown run to Rashidi Scott with 10 minutes 42 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Roosevelt did not allow Patterson to advance past midfield.
"We didn't really worry about [surrendering the early touchdown]," junior defensive end Ricky Walston said. "We've done that before during the season. It woke us up, and we had to come on strong."
Offensively, the Raiders scored a season-best 52 points despite having three first-half touchdowns wiped out by penalties. Junior running back Edwin Rios ran for 132 yards on 13 carries and scored on a 70-yard touchdown run the first time he touched the ball.
"We know that our offense at any given time can go for a touchdown," senior lineman Delano Dryden said. "If we execute our blocks, we believe that our offense can get it done."
"I was really pleased with the effort we put out in the second half [against Patterson]," Houchens said. "But we have not played our best game yet. I hope we've saved it for next week."
Carrying the Load
All season, Forestville's football team has been successful with a one-two punch at running back. So Cambridge-South Dorchester could not have been too surprised when junior running backs Larry McClain and Ed Garnes carried most of the load for the Knights in Saturday's Maryland 1A semifinal.
Cambridge most likely did not expect to be dominated, however--and that is what McClain and Garnes did. They combined for 417 yards and five touchdowns on 33 carries to lift the Knights to a 47-7 victory over the Vikings.
Garnes and McClain, who have combined to rush for 2,607 yards this season, will lead Forestville (10-2) into the Maryland 1A championship game against Brunswick of Frederick County on Friday at 3 p.m. at Byrd Stadium in College Park.
"It's an honor to have a back like Ed lead the backfield," said McClain, who is considered the Knights' second option out of the backfield but ran for 241 yards on 13 carries on Saturday. "It's all right with me [being the No. 2 running back] as long as we keep winning."
Garnes added 176 yards on 20 carries and has 1,384 for the season. McClain, who had touchdown runs of 10 and 88 yards, has rushed for 1,223.
"Our running game can't be stopped," Garnes said. "The opposing team doesn't know who they'll have to stop."
McClain also is a factor on defense. The 5-foot-11, 169-pound cornerback intercepted two passes to bring his Washington area-leading total to 12.
"I give all that to the defensive line," McClain said. "If you [apply] pressure, the quarterback can't think. When he throws the ball up, then I can hopefully take it down."
It will be Forestville's second consecutive trip to the 1A final. Last year, the Knights fell to Oakland Mills, 15-12.
"We're not satisfied yet," McClain said. "We'll be satisfied when we win it all. This was another hump in the road. That's all."
STATE FOOTBALL FINALS; At Maryland's Byrd Stadium in College Park
Who: Forestville (10-2) vs. Brunswick (10-2)
When: Friday, 3 p.m.
Fast Fact: Brunswick of Frederick County will be playing in its first state final. Forestville has made the final twice, in 1988 and 1998, but never has won.
Who: Eleanor Roosevelt (11-1) vs. Gaithersburg (11-1)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Fast Fact: Gaithersburg is shooting for its third state title--the Trojans won it in 1986 and 1992. Roosevelt's only other state final appearance was a loss in 1996.