1. Containing Keeney
Behind a line anchored by seniors Bryan DeMoss (6 feet 3, 260 pounds) and Ryan Cutsail (6-0, 230), Middletown senior running back Josh Keeney has rushed for 2,384 yards and 40 touchdowns, just two short of the Maryland single-season record set by Chad Bradley of Damascus in 1996. The only time Keeney has been held to fewer than 100 yards in a game this season -- 76 yards against F.S. Key -- the Knights suffered their only loss, 41-20, on Sept. 13.
2. The Line of Scrimmage
Both Middletown and Hereford are blue-collar teams that use their running games to dominate in time of possession. While Middletown pounds the ball with Keeney, Hereford counters with a wing-T offense that has churned up 4,298 yards on the ground. The Bulls have an offensive line that, including two tight ends, averages 243 pounds.
3. The Grand Stage
Hereford, which has won 25 consecutive games, captured the Maryland 2A championship last year at Byrd Stadium. Middletown, meantime, has not advanced past the state semifinals since 1991, so none of the Knights have played in a state championship game. In addition to a Bulls offense that averages 41.9 points per game, Middletown must deal with the pressure of playing at a venue like Ravens Stadium.
-- Jake Schaller