The gap may be closing, but there seems little question that a difference remains between the top football teams in Prince George's County and their counterparts in Howard County. For the second consecutive season, Prince George's teams swept three postseason games from Howard opponents, although this season's games were more competitive than last year's.
In the Maryland 3A East Region semifinals, Gwynn Park needed a late touchdown to beat Long Reach, 20-19, and Douglass rallied in the second half to beat River Hill, 36-26. Friendly held off Glenelg, 25-20, in a Maryland 2A South Region semifinal. That was a much more competitive set of games than last season, when Prince George's teams won three games by a combined 105-51.
"Howard County has come a long way since when they started playing ball with us," Friendly Coach George Earley said.
Glenelg Coach John Davis said: "Speed -- that's the difference. There's no question: Teams from Prince George's County are just faster than we are, and I think that showed in all three losses."
However, with the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association's proposed reclassification and realignment, there will be fewer Prince George's-Howard postseason meetings. Prince George's 3A schools will be shifted to the South Region and compete with teams from the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference.
Prince George's schools that might be affected by reclassification are Bladensburg, Crossland and Douglass -- a proposal would move them from 3A to 4A -- and Friendly, which would go from 2A to 3A.
The proposal will be considered by the MPSSAA Board of Control on Dec. 8. If it is passed, there will be 13 teams in the Prince George's 4A league and eight in the Prince George's 3A/2A league. It is expected that schools in the 4A league would play a nine-game league schedule and have one nonleague opening, and schools in the 3A/2A league would have three nonleague openings.
As for Douglass, Coach J.C. Pinkney said, if he has one opening, he would try to schedule Gwynn Park to continue the schools' rivalry.
"That's a big game," Pinkney said. "There's not another rivalry like that."
Friendly Gets Another Shot
Friendly is confident entering its game against Potomac on Saturday in the Maryland 2A South Region final, even though it lost to Potomac, 36-6, on Sept. 11.
"I think we've got a pretty good shot at beating them, which seems to be impossible the way they're blowing everybody out, but they haven't played anybody," Earley said. "They've only played two teams. They played us and Douglass."
Friendly (7-3) began its season with losses to Gwynn Park and Potomac, but has won seven of eight games since to get a second chance at the Wolverines.
"It's what we wanted," Earley said. "Let's hope we're ready for it."
Potomac running back Titan Trabue returned last week from a shoulder injury, but Friendly is without a handful of players.
Earley said that defensive tackle Terrence Walker and running back Lamar Thomas have broken ankles, and place kicker Esteban Sanchez has torn knee ligaments.