It might have been the end of an era in Washington-area high school football. If so, top-ranked Seneca Valley went out in style.
All-Met quarterback Chris Kelley threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score to lead the Screaming Eagles, who took home a third consecutive state championship trophy following a 41-0 victory over No. 7 Thomas Stone in the Maryland 3A championship game before 7,000 at Byrd Stadium.
Seneca Valley completed its third consecutive 13-0 season with ease. The Screaming Eagles scored three times in 4 minutes 2 seconds of the first quarter, and the rest of the game was simply a matter of waiting for the clock to run out and Seneca Valley celebrating its Maryland-record 11th state championship and area-best 39th straight victory.
During the four football seasons this year's senior class was at Seneca Valley, the Screaming Eagles were 50-1, losing only to Sherwood in the 1996 playoff semifinals.
"I think it is probably the end of an era," Seneca Valley Coach Terry Changuris said. ". . . I'm not really looking to the future though. I just want to enjoy what we have accomplished. It is truly remarkable."
Seneca Valley outscored its three postseason opponents by a combined 137-18, setting a state playoff record for most points in the postseason.
As in many of Seneca Valley's victories during its Montgomery County-record winning streak, Kelley was just too much for the opponent to handle. He completed 8 of 15 passes (8 of 13 in the first half) for 125 yards and rushed for 152 yards on 20 carries.
"He is the best kid we have seen all year," Thomas Stone Coach Rich Callahan said. "And he rose to the occasion and had a super game."
In the first half, Kelley did his work through the air. On the Screaming Eagles' first drive, facing fourth and 17 from the Thomas Stone 29-yard line, Kelley scrambled right away from a defender and threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver LeVar Scott in the back corner of the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
From there, things snowballed in Seneca Valley's favor. On Thomas Stone's second play from scrimmage, quarterback Phil Budenbender tried a sneak up the middle but had the ball stripped away by nose guard David Cavell, who returned it 38 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 5:09 left in the first quarter.
After Thomas Stone (12-1) went three and out, Rafael Mason returned a punt 12 yards to the Thomas Stone 29. Two plays later, Scott ran a post-corner route to the left side of the end zone and Kelley hit him in stride to make it 21-0 with 1:56 left in the quarter.
At that point, some Seneca Valley students started chanting, "This game's over."
Thomas Stone, which entered averaging 29 points per game, threatened to score twice, moving inside Seneca Valley's 10-yard line.
On each instance, though, the Cougars were stuffed. On the latter occasion, running back Mike Finamore was stopped by Kelley and Brett Chamberlain for no gain on fourth and goal from the two early in the fourth quarter.
"We had our 'A' game up," said Chamberlain, who said the Seneca Valley coaching staff had not shown the team any videotape of Thomas Stone prior to the game. "We came out expecting to play a higher caliber team than they were."
Thomas Stone All-Met running back Marcus Whalen finished with 71 yards on 25 carries. As a team, the Cougars finished with 152 yards of total offense and six first downs.
As he was mobbed by little kids after the game, Kelley reflected on his high school career.
"It might be the end of an era," he said. "But Seneca Valley always will be the best. They have the best players and the best coaches. We did it the best we could."
Note: In the Maryland 2A final, Urbana of Frederick County routed Edmondson of Baltimore, 51-18, for its second consecutive state championship. Quarterback Zack Mills, who has committed orally to Penn State, completed 15 of 20 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Hawks (12-0) to their 25th consecutive victory.
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