Parkdale senior running back Kevin Beverly could not tell where the mud on his body stopped and his skin began, and was so cold he could not stop his hands from shaking as he limped into the visitors' locker room yesterday at Suitland High.
His teeth chattered as he spoke with his teammates, yet he felt no pain, only pleasure knowing he had just helped the 12th-ranked Panthers to a 28-0 victory over No. 8 Suitland in a Maryland 4A quarterfinal game in District Heights.
"This is the best feeling I've ever had as a football player -- to feel what it's like to win a playoff game," said Beverly, who rushed for a game-high 163 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries to give him an area-best 2,010 yards this season. "I've waited a long time for this."
So has Parkdale -- 27 years to be exact. That's how long it has been since the Panthers last won a playoff game. Parkdale lost the 4A final to Arundel, 13-7, in 1975, and before this season, had only made it back to the postseason twice, losing in the first round in 1989 and 2000.
"The last two times we made the playoffs we were just happy that we made it. It was like just being there was most important," said Parkdale first-year coach Mike Rucker, who was the team's quarterback in 1989 and the team's defensive coordinator in 2000. "This year's team didn't just want to make the playoffs -- it wanted to win a state title."
Parkdale (9-1), will host a semifinal game Saturday at 1 p.m. against seventh-seeded Damascus (8-2), which eliminated No. 20 Broadneck on Friday, 25-7. The winner will advance to play the winner of the Gaithersburg-Sherwood game in the 4A final either Nov. 29 or Nov. 30 at Ravens Stadium in Baltimore.
Suitland (8-2), which defeated Parkdale during the regular season, 13-6, and shared the Prince George's County 4A championship with the Panthers, was denied its first postseason victory since 1998, and lost a home playoff game for the first time in school history.
Middletown Tops Glenelg in 2A
As the rain fell harder and the mud caked thicker on Josh Keeney's cleats, and his white jersey turned an ugly shade of brown, the Middletown senior seemed at his most comfortable.
Keeney rushed for a career-high 293 yards in the Knights' 28-10 Maryland 2A quarterfinal victory at previously undefeated Glenelg, and as the field grew sloppier, Keeney's yardage came in larger and larger chunks.
"This weather, it's great to run in because you are just greased up and really slippery," said Keeney, who holds every major Middletown rushing record. "I am not the fastest kid out there but you don't need to be fast on days like today because it's really slippery and people are sliding everywhere."
The Knights' veteran offensive line plowed holes for Keeney and several other backs, pounding the Gladiators (10-1) with a dose of their own run-first medicine for the second year in a row. Middletown, which will play at Wicomico in next weekend's state semifinals, ended Glenelg's undefeated season last year with a 7-0 first-round win.
After Glenelg took a 7-0 lead when junior Tim Siders ran 68 yards for a touchdown on the Gladiators' first play from scrimmage, Middletown leaned on Glenelg and did not let up until seven rushers had amassed 473 ground yards.
After Middletown junior quarterback Tyler Lushbaugh tied the score at 7 on a 13-yard bootleg, Keeney took over scoring the next three touchdowns.