THOMAS STONE vs. SENECA VALLEY

Maryland 3A Final

Saturday, 7 p.m.

at the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium

GAME ANALYSIS

* When Thomas Stone has the ball: The Cougars will stick with what got them to the state final: their running game. Senior RBs Marcus Whalen and Mike Finamore each has rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season--Whalen needs 151 to reach 2,000--and both can do considerable damage. But the speedy Seneca Valley defense may prevent them from getting to the corner as they have against most teams. Junior QB Phil Buddenbender is capable of completing the short pass--his favorite targets are Mike Farland or Morgan Fields--but he will have to release the ball in a hurry, something he has struggled with in the past. Seneca Valley senior DE Clint Pitt has 13 sacks, and senior DB LeVar Scott leads the team with nine interceptions.

* When Seneca Valley has the ball: Senior QB Chris Kelley does it all. Arguably the best player in the Washington area, Kelley is Seneca Valley's leading rusher and leading passer. He has thrown for 1,520 yards--including 26 touchdown and five interceptions--and has rushed for 1,124 yards and 15 scores. Senior WRs Anthony Pierouchakos and Scott both excel at catching high passes, and that could spell trouble for Thomas Stone DB Mark Johnson, who leads the Cougars with five interceptions. Johnson is the Cougars' best cover man, but stands just 5-7; Scott is 6-3. Thomas Stone plans to attack Kelley in an attempt to prevent him from getting out of the pocket, where he is most dangerous. If he does get past the line, the Cougars will rely on their best tacklers--LBs Farland and Whalen--to stop him.

* Special teams: Finamore punts, kicks off and place kicks for Thomas Stone, but he has not connected on a field goal all season. Same for Scott, who recently passed off some of the kickoff duties to Kelley in order to lighten his load. Both teams have very dangerous return men. Finamore, Johnson and Whalen all drop deep for Thomas Stone on kickoffs, with Whalen and Johnson returning punts. The threesome has returned a combined seven kicks for touchdowns this season. Kelley is the Screaming Eagles' kick returner and has scored on four this season.

* Outlook: Seneca Valley is the clear favorite. The Screaming Eagles have won 38 consecutive games and are 10-0 in state finals. Still, Thomas Stone Coach Richard Callahan is quick to point out that the Screaming Eagles are just 12-0 this season--and so are the Cougars. Seneca Valley is both fast and experienced, and it has the advantage of a balanced offensive attack. Thomas Stone, which is almost exclusively a running team, will be hurt if it can't spread Seneca Valley's defense.

-- Angie Watts

THOMAS STONE LEADERS

* Team record: 12-0

* Rushing

Name

Att.

Yds.

Avg.

TDs

M. Whalen

214

1,849

8.6

17

Mike Finamore

147

1,147

7.8

13

* Passing

Name

Att.

Com.

Int.

Yds.

TDs

P. Buddenbender

19

51

3

450

6

* Receiving

Name

Rec.

Yds.

Avg.

TDs

Mike Farland

9

179

19.9

3

Morgan Fields

4

104

26.0

2

* Scoring

Name

TDs

FG

XP-1

XP-2

Total

M. Whalen

19

0

0

0

114

M. Finamore

14

0

25

1

111

* Tackles

Name Total

Mike Farland 124

Marcus Whalen 81

* QB Sacks

Name Total

Marcus Warr 8

Steven Peaper 6

* Interceptions

Name Total

Mark Johnson 5

Mike Finamore 3

Gamal Sheard 3

SENECA VALLEY LEADERS

* Team record: 12-0

* Rushing

Name

Att.

Yds.

Avg.

TDs

Chris Kelley

135

1,124

8.3

15

David Cavell

76

659

8.7

4

* Passing

Name

Att.

Com.

Int.

Yds.

TDs

Chris Kelley

92

157

5

1,520

26

* Receiving

Name

Rec.

Yds.

Avg.

TDs

A. Pierouchakos

35

656

18.7

10

LeVar Scott

32

591

18.5

8

* Scoring

Name

TDs

FG

XP-1

XP-2

Total

Chris Kelley

19

0

0

3

120

LeVar Scott

8

0

38

6

98

* Tackles

Name Total

Daz Carter 144

Clint Pitts 102

* QB Sacks

Name Total

Clint Pitts 13

* Interceptions

Name Total

LeVar Scott 9

CAPTION: Thomas Stone defender Mark Johnson, left, tackles Chopticon's Alan Courtney in September. The Braves scored 22 points--the most by any Cougar foe.

CAPTION: Maryland Class 3A Football Playoffs (This graphic was not available)