Seneca Valley 33, Calvert 26
Seneca Valley Coach Terry Changuris shouted a question to his team in the middle of Calvert's field last night.
"Where are we going next week?"
The answer was a familiar one for Seneca Valley.
The Screaming Eagles (9-2) earned their record 12th trip to the Maryland 3A championship game with a dramatic 33-26 win over the host Cavaliers that wasn't sealed until the game's final seconds. Seneca Valley, which captured a record 11 state titles from 1976 to 1999, has never lost a state final.
"I personally think we just played the state champions tonight," Calvert Coach Brad Criss said.
Seneca Valley senior Justin Warren, a transfer student this year, rushed for a game-high 157 yards and five touchdowns behind a big and powerful offensive line. In two playoff wins at top-seeded Annapolis and Calvert, Warren has combined for 10 scores, upping his season total to a school-record 28.
Still, it was the heads-up play of senior quarterback Brandon Chapman that ultimately proved the difference.
Calvert (8-3) closed to 26-20 with 6 minutes 57 seconds left in the fourth quarter on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Joe Procopio to fellow senior Jerome Brooks. With the Prince Frederick crowd of more than 2,000 on its feet with the changing momentum, Calvert backed Seneca Valley into a fourth and eight at its 26-yard line on the ensuing drive.
Chapman rolled right on the play and quickly found Calvert senior linebacker Colin Canine hanging onto his ankles for what looked to be a sack. Instead, Chapman kept his focus and threw a 12-yard strike to senior Reggie Frazier for a first down. Two plays later Warren scored.
"That's one of the reasons why he's our quarterback, because he's so mobile," Changuris said.
Calvert answered on its next play, a 64-yard screen pass from Procopio to senior running back Dervon Wallace. Wallace (131 yards rushing, 82 receiving) wiggled his way past Seneca Valley's line and outraced the secondary to the end zone. But with just 1:15 left on the clock, all the Screaming Eagles needed to run out the clock was one first down, and they got it on an eight-yard run by Warren.
"Justin was just lowering his shoulder and punishing people," Chapman said. "He was delivering the blows instead of receiving the blows. He's done it all year, but these last two games he has been something else. He wasn't with us last year, but we're so glad to have him now. We were close last year; this year none of us are trying to go home without a state title."