Sherwood Coach Al Thomas had no problem hiding his joy in reaching yet another state title game.
One of Maryland's winningest coaches sat in his office Tuesday morning, mulling over not a game plan, but rather a dry field for his team to practice on.
Snow covered Sherwood's football field in Olney and turned any visible grass into mud, forcing the team to practice in the gymnasium. Such a scenario might not be too detrimental for a team that enjoys running the ball, but Thomas knows that if his Warriors are to beat top-ranked Damascus in the teams' second meeting tomorrow night -- this time with a state title on the line -- they must be successful passing.
And a gymnasium is no place for that.
"This is not a good situation for us," said Thomas, after unsuccessfully trying to line up practice time at indoor complexes around the area. "The season is a week too long."
The Warriors (12-1) made it this far by beating a team -- then-No. 5 Douglass (12-1) -- that many expected to square off against Damascus at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore for the title. Sherwood, however, took advantage of Douglass mistakes in a 14-7 win, as the Warriors' defense kept the Eagles well below their scoring average of 36 points a game.
The victory also highlighted Sherwood's defensive rejuvenation. The Warriors shut out Perry Hall and Parkville in two 4A North playoff games and have yielded just 46 points in the five games since losing to Damascus.
Combined with a high-powered offense, Sherwood appears to be entering its biggest game of the season on its biggest roll of the season.
Junior quarterback Deontay Twyman and senior wide receiver Ben Everett have been the Warriors' biggest offensive weapons in recent weeks. Twyman completed 13 of 17 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown against Douglass -- which had yielded just 67 points all season -- bringing his season totals to 2,405 yards and 33 touchdowns. He has thrown 12 interceptions.
Everett had 66 yards receiving and a score against Douglass, extending his streak of games with at least one touchdown to six and bringing his receiving total to an area-best 1,303 yards.
Sherwood averages 39 points a game and boasts a pair of veteran coaches (Thomas and assistant Terry Changuris) who seemingly would be tough to beat twice in a season. But Thomas knows it won't be easy if the Warriors are to win their first state title since their consecutive championships in 1995 and '96.
"Damascus already beat us once this year and they beat us last year," Thomas corrected. "Damascus can do it all. They've got all the weapons. They will probably start off by trying to overwhelm us. . . .
"It would have been an advantage for us to play on a dry field. But you can't work on passing in the gym."