When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Records: Lackey 9-2; Gwynn Park 11-0.
Last meeting: Gwynn Park won, 14-13, on Sept. 8, 2000.
Last week: Lackey defeated Friendly, 21-19. Gwynn Park defeated Westlake, 14-7.
Playoff history: Lackey has lost in the Maryland 3A title game each of the past two seasons, and the Chargers' senior class has a 7-2 career playoff record. Gwynn Park is making its sixth consecutive playoff appearance, but none have been as successful as its 2000 run to a 2A final. Since then, the Yellow Jackets are just 4-4 in playoff games.
Outlook: Over the past three seasons, Lackey has been on the short end of talent and depth to some opponents and still prevailed. This, however, might be the Chargers' toughest challenge. Gwynn Park is loaded with Division I talent. Linebacker Adrian Moten (Maryland) -- perhaps the best player on the field last week against Westlake -- and cornerback Rashad Carmichael (Virginia Tech) have committed, but Lackey's coaching staff watched 6-foot-2 wide receiver Quintin McCree catch the game-winning 54-yard touchdown pass and 340-pound behemoth Phillip Taylor flatten blockers for shifty sophomore running back Jerrell Coles. When Coles isn't getting the handoffs, 210-pound senior fullback William Little is -- and he gained 43 yards on five second-half carries last week. Gwynn Park's offense is explosive, capable of scoring on the ground or in the air, and Troy Butler's 40-yard interception return for a score last week showed that the defense has similar game-breaking potential.
Given all these threats, Lackey will need to keep the ball out of Gwynn Park's hands. Sophomore running back Mike Johnson looked better last week but still a bit off after recovering from a sore ankle. Senior Josh Briscoe, who made his first start in the regular-season finale, has stepped in and rushed for 359 yards and five touchdowns the past two games. A stable running game allows quarterback Aaron Smith to throw short play-action passes over the middle. Smith has not thrown an interception is his last 62 passes, covering more than 41/2 games. Defensively, Lackey will be pressed to find people to pick up the slack for senior linebacker Bryan Gibbons, a three-year starter, who left last week's game in the first quarter with a dislocated elbow. Gibbons said he might try to play, but his effectiveness is expected to be limited.
-- ALAN GOLDENBACH