Maryland 2A South Region
Friendly (6-3) at Glenelg (7-2)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. tomorrow.
To the Winner: A spot in next weekend's region final against the winner of Saturday's game between top-seeded Potomac (10-0) and fourth-seeded Southern (5-5).
How Glenelg Got Here: After starting the season 6-0, the Gladiators lost two of their final three games to earn the second seed. The Gladiators, who lost in the region final to Potomac last year, are 2-7 in postseason play and have never reached the state final.
How Friendly Got Here: After losing their first two games, the Patriots reeled off six victories before falling to Douglass on Saturday. The third-seeded Patriots, making their first postseason appearance in six years, are the only team in the region tournament that has won a state championship, earning the 3A title in 1998.
Glenelg NG J.P. Debrowski, OLB Ricky Hanna and MLB Andrew Curley vs. Friendly QB Joe Haden
Glenelg's defensive front will try to pressure Haden, a sophomore who threw for 1,534 yards with 12 touchdowns but is playing in his first postseason game. Glenelg's secondary has struggled covering receivers, and Friendly's speedy group -- led by Greg Penn (27 catches, 543 yards, 2 TDs) and Vince Hill (26 catches, 506 yards, 6 TDs) -- will be the best it has faced this season. Debrowski (team-high four sacks) is the leader of Glenelg's defense, and Curley (team-high 67 tackles) and Hanna (27 tackles) have played well in their first season in the starting lineup.
"I'm concerned with their speed, and their quarterback was starting as a freshman [in 2003], so it's not like playing in big games is all new to him," Glenelg Coach John Davis said. "We are going to need a great game tackling, and we can't let Friendly start getting behind us and running all over the place because we'll be in trouble."
Glenelg's running backs vs. Friendly LBs Rodney Pittman, Jamison Hedgepeth and Justin Jones
Glenelg's strength is its running game, which has accounted for 2,845 yards and 31 touchdowns, but Davis said three top running backs -- Blake Mullinix, Stephen Bullard and Trey Crayton -- were injured during a loss to Mount Hebron on Oct. 23 and may not be at full strength. So the job may fall to Brandon Dever (334 yards), Mack Loyd (223 yards, 3 TDs) and Robbie Foy. Friendly's defense gave up 77 points in the first two games, then allowed just 53 in the final seven weeks. Pittman (team-high 104 tackles, 7 sacks, 2 INTs), Hedgepeth (77 tackles, 3 sacks) and Jones (59 tackles, 2 sacks) lead a unit that has allowed just four rushing touchdowns since Sept. 11 and has posted three shutouts.
-- JON GALLO