Howard County Football Playoff Games
Wilde Lake (10-0) at Northwest (7-2)
Class 3A quarterfinal
When: 7 p.m. tomorrow.
The Matchup: Northwest shut out its last four opponents and is a team similar to Wilde Lake, which has put up plenty of points this year and has also been stingy on defense. "They throw the ball, they run the ball, they are big and they are fast," Wilde Lake Coach Doug DuVall said. "That's four problems. Most people only are a three-dimensional team, but they give you four problems." Foremost among those problems could be Northwest's running game, led by Travis Jackson and Chi Chi Mansuray and powered by senior fullback Chris Ropko. Ike Whitaker, the Jaguars' sophomore quarterback, is a passing threat as well and plays well beyond his age.
Key Number: 23. Turnovers forced by Wilde Lake, which made only 10 turnovers itself.
Previous Years: Wilde Lake is 16-5 in the playoffs, with its last appearance being 1999. It has won five state titles. Northwest has made two appearances, both resulting in first-round losses.
Oakland Mills (7-3) at North East (8-2)
Class 1A quarterfinal
When: 7 p.m. tomorrow.
The Matchup: Oakland Mills did not waltz into the playoffs, struggling against Howard two weeks ago and losing in overtime to Long Reach on Saturday. The Scorpions are seeded eighth and have an opening game that might seem like a mismatch. However, Oakland Mills isn't an average Class 1A team and knocked off the top seed in last year's playoffs (Forest Park) en route to the championship game. North East is no pushover and has beaten two teams -- Bohemia Manor and Elkton -- that have qualified for the playoffs. Oakland Mills should be healthy, with junior tailback C.J. King and sophomore lineman David Howard back from injuries.
Key Number: 3. Senior captain Dennis Lange's jersey number. At his fullback spot, Lange opens holes for King and is also a versatile weapon who is able to run the ball effectively and catch passes out of the backfield.
Previous Years: Oakland Mills is 7-10 in the playoffs, with one state title, in 1998. North East last made the playoffs 16 year ago.
Middletown (9-1) at Glenelg (10-0)
Class 2A quarterfinal
When: 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Matchup: Glenelg knows all about Middletown, as the Knights were the source of the Gladiators' playoff frustration last year in a 7-0 win. The bad news is that Middletown's Josh Keeney is back. Keeney burned Glenelg for 186 yards last year, and his three-yard touchdown run was the difference in a close game. Keeney has been a force for Middletown, which won eight straight games to end the season. Glenelg senior Kevin Ganascioli was bottled up in that playoff loss and finished with 50 yards on 14 carries. Glenelg's run-oriented offense was stymied, but Gladiators Coach John Davis promised change this year. He just wouldn't say what he was changing. "If we could do it over again, I would do a lot of things different," he said. "Now we may get the opportunity. I think you will see a different ballclub out there."
Key Number: 300. When Glenelg runs for more than 300 yards, it usually wins. The Gladiators didn't come close to that figure last year against Middletown.
Previous Years: Glenelg's playoff record is 1-5, with a 14-7 win over Oakland Mills in 2000. The Gladiators have never won a state title. Middletown is 7-11 in the playoffs, with no state title.