Maryland 3A East Region
Douglass (8-2) at River Hill (10-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. tomorrow.
To the Winner: A spot in next weekend's region final against the winner of Saturday's game between second-seeded Gwynn Park (10-0) and third-seeded Long Reach (9-1).
How River Hill Got Here: The Hawks posted their first undefeated regular season in school history, finishing ahead of Prince George's County co-champion Gwynn Park by barely two-tenths of a point under the postseason seeding system to earn home-field advantage throughout the region tournament.
How Douglass Got Here: Douglass opened the season with five straight victories but lost two of its next four games and needed last Saturday's victory over Friendly to claim the final berth. Had Douglass lost, Mount Hebron would be in the playoffs. The Eagles are making their 10th playoff appearance but have never won a state title.
River Hill LBs Tyler Martin, Chas Spiros and Ryan Deiter against Douglass's option offense
Douglass quarterback Davon Gray has thrown for just 272 yards and four touchdowns this season, but he plays an integral role in distributing the ball in the Eagles' option offense. Running backs Jamaine McCain (765 yards, 9 TDs), Derron Hall (576 yards, 8 TDs) and William Johnson (351 yards, 3 TDs) lead a rushing attack that has 2,410 yards and 33 touchdowns. River Hill, which yielded a county-low 103 points, will try to shut down the option with Martin (team-high 91 tackles, 6 sacks), Spiros (89 tackles, 2 sacks) and Deiter (62 tackles).
"Douglass has speed, so we are going to have to tackle better than we've been doing the last few weeks," River Hill Coach Brian Van Deusen said. "Our linebackers are going to have to play tough but smart. Each one is going to be responsible for somebody, either the quarterback or one of the guys he pitches the ball to, so we have everybody covered."
River Hill QB Ben Hostetler against Douglass's secondary
Hostetler, who has thrown for 1,198 yards and 13 touchdowns, is the best quarterback Douglass has seen this season, Eagles Coach J.C. Pinkney said. His favorite targets are Greg Nowak (29 catches, 447 yards, 6 TDs) and John Pattillo (21 catches, 248 yards, 3 TDs). Douglass counters with cornerbacks Matt Reid (4 INTs) and Devon Hough (3 INTs), and Pinkney hopes defensive linemen Thomas Clagett and Patrick Mimms, who have 13 Division I-A scholarship offers between them, can pressure Hostetler into making a mistake.
"What concerns me most about River Hill is their passing game, because we are not playing good pass defense right now, and they have a quarterback who can throw the ball," Pinkney said. "We can't give their quarterback all the time he wants to throw the ball. We need to get some guys in his face and pressure him."
-- JON GALLO