In Maryland it's a weekend of football coronations as two state champions were crowned last night and two more will claim titles today. Included in the festivities is Wootton, which will play for its first state championship this afternoon. In Virginia, semifinal action will determine who plays in next week's state title games.
Wootton (12-0) will try to end its best season ever with a state championship as it meets Randallstown (12-0) at Westminster at 2 p.m. The Patriots surprised perennial power Springbrook last week and are pumped up over their first title shot.
"We're excited to be there and we're excited to be representing Montgomery County," said Coach Bob Hampton. "This game could cap off a beautiful season for us. It's an exciting time for the whole school."
Quarterback Mike Mehok leads a Patriots offense that also features running back Shawn Thomas and outstanding receiver/kick returner Marlon Evans. Evans returned the opening kickoff 99 yards to stake Wootton to an immediate lead in the 20-7 upset of Springbrook. On defense, tackle Ryan Kuhl and ends Alan Dinerman and Geoff Pearce man the line while linebacker Chris DeSena and strong safety Messay Hailemariam patrol the secondary. It will be their job to stop Randallstown's 2,000-yard running back, Larry Washington.
In the Class 1A final at High Point, Kent County (8-4) will meet Smithsburg (8-4) at 2 p.m.
In Virginia, Annandale (11-1) will continue to ride the marvelous season of James Milliner as it meets long-time power Hampton (11-1) at W.T. Woodson at 1:30. A 6-foot-1, 190-pound running back, he has been sensational, scoring 33 touchdowns and running more than 2,200 yards, including more than 200 last week against the heralded T.C. Williams defense. Milliner's performance has led the Atoms to two of three preseason goals in Coach Dick Adams' first season.
"Our first goal was to win the district and I truly felt we could do that," Adams said. "Second, we wanted a chance to play for the region title. And long-range was a shot at the state."
For the Atoms to gain a berth in next week's state title game, they must overcome Virginia's all-time best program. The Crabbers have won 12 state titles and had played in the final game four straight years until the streak was stopped last season.
Gar-Field (10-2) will host Highland Springs (10-2) at 1:30 p.m. in the other Division 6 semifinal. The Indians, only 2-8 a year ago, will count on running back Latroy Askew to lead them against last year's state runner-up. Askew, who has gained more than 100 yards in 10 of 12 games this season, had a 95-yard touchdown run in last week's victory over Fauquier.
West Potomac (10-2) will not defend the Division 6 state title it won a year ago -- declining enrollment caused the Wolverines to be reclassified in Division 5. But they will take another step toward a new state crown when they meet Warwick (9-3) at Todd Field in Newport News at 2 p.m.
Winners of 10 straight games, the Wolverines boast the Northern Region's best defense and one of its highest-scoring offenses. During the 10-game streak, West Potomac has outscored opponents 387-31 and has posted shutouts in both its playoff games.
Warwick surprised Woodrow Wilson, the Division 5 defending state champion, rushing for 217 yards against a Wilson defense that had been surrendering only 63 rushing yards per game. Brothers Mario and Melvin Haskett carry much of the offensive load.
Should West Potomac advance, it could face Potomac (12-0), which travels to Varina (10-2) for a 1:30 p.m. semifinal contest. The Panthers will try to return to the state final where they lost to Wilson last year.
Linebackers Kevin and Keith McAfee, Kevin Lewis and C.J. Morgan key an excellent Potomac defense that last week held Heritage's two 1,000-yard rushers to 122 yards on 29 carries. The Panthers will try to match that today. Varina running backs Ryan Aveson and K.C. Hinton each exceeded 1,200 yards this season.
Chancellor (11-1) has quickly made a name for itself in Group AA. The Fredericksburg school opened three years ago and will host Tabb (11-1) today at 1:30 p.m. in its second straight state Division 4 semifinal appearance after suffering through a 0-10 season its first year.
The Chargers, winners of the Battlefield District and Region II, will be faced with the task of containing Simeon Tucker, who has rushed 2,118 yards, including a 315-yard game that broke the school record of University of Virginia running back Terry Kirby.