Both 13th-ranked Northwest and Poolesville hit the road this weekend for Maryland regional championship games. Here's a look at what's ahead for the Jaguars and Falcons.
Northwest at Frederick
What: Maryland 3A West Region Final.
When: Tomorrow, 7 p.m.
Records: Northwest 10-1, Frederick 10-1.
Frederick's Story: The Cadets, making their first playoff appearance since 1987, are the region's top seed. They have won four straight games since their lone loss of the season (29-16 to Urbana), averaging 34 points per game during that span. Last week they defeated then-No. 13 Seneca Valley, 18-7, behind 207 yards rushing on 31 carries by 6-foot-2, 225-pound senior running back Bruce Dorsey.
"Up front they are mammoth," Northwest Coach Randy Trivers said. "They're a physical group, they come off the ball, and when you put a back like Dorsey behind them, it's scary."
Frederick also has a three-year starting quarterback in Cory Rhodes and a big, hard-hitting defense.
What Northwest Must Do: The 13th-ranked Jaguars must find a way to keep Dorsey and the Cadets from controlling possession. They also need to avoid turnovers -- a fumble recovery by Frederick turned its game against Seneca Valley -- and continue to make big plays on special teams.
Poolesville vs. Dunbar (Balt.)
What: Maryland 1A South Region Final.
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Where: At City College High in Baltimore.
Records: Poolesville 11-0, Dunbar 10-1.
Dunbar's Story: The defending Maryland 1A South Region champion lost their first game of the season to Baltimore-area private school power Gilman, 28-14. Since then, however, they have demolished their competition, winning 10 straight by a combined 415-66.
What Poolesville Must Do: This is the game the Falcons (11-0) have been pining for since Nov. 22 of last year. On that day, Dunbar ended Poolesville's unbeaten season in the Class 1A South Region final with a 30-22 victory. The game was tied late until the Poets connected on a 19-yard touchdown pass with 23 seconds to play.
On Saturday, the Falcons must slow down the game a bit and make sure Dunbar doesn't build an early lead. Don't expect Poolesville to be intimidated. Last year the Falcons lost their top player, Vincent Riggs, to an injury in the first quarter but did not fold.