Parkdale 34, Sherwood 14
Parkdale High School's football team made up for lost time tonight.
The seventh-ranked Panthers, playing in their school's first state championship game in nearly three decades, scored two touchdowns in the first three minutes and led No. 8 Sherwood by 28 with five minutes left in the first half. They finished with a 34-14 victory and the Maryland 4A championship at Ravens Stadium.
Parkdale (11-1) had not played in the state final since 1975, and hadn't won since 1974, but history was hardly the issue tonight. The Panthers recovered a Sherwood fumble on the opening kickoff and scored three plays later, held the Warriors (10-2) to three plays and a punt, then scored on a 50-yard pass play to make it 13-0 with 9 minutes 19 seconds left in the first quarter.
"We were the only one that from Day One believed that we would be state champions," said Parkdale Coach Mike Rucker, who at age 29 became the youngest coach to win a Maryland football title. "We proved that Parkdale is the best team in the state of Maryland."
Sherwood, which had held opponents to 7.1 points per game going into the state final, lost its second state championship game in the past three seasons.
On the opening kickoff, senior Byron Maldonado recovered Sherwood's fumble at the 28. On third and one from the Sherwood 19, sophomore junior quarterback Anthony Brown ran up the middle for the game's first score.
On Parkdale's next possession, Brown threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Markus McFadden to extend the Panthers' lead.
"We could not have asked for a better start to the game -- it was like we exploded as soon as the game started," first-year coach Rucker said. "We had worked all year to make it this far. We jumped on them right away and never let up."
The Panthers fumbled away their next possession on the Sherwood 4-yard line, but forced Sherwood to punt six plays later. Brown's one-yard sneak and Kevin Beverly's two-point conversion run capped a 10-play, 55-yard drive that extended Parkdale's lead to 21-0 with 8:41 left in the half.
McFadden returned an interception 88 yards to push the Parkdale lead to 28-0 with 5:34 remaining in the half.
"That play by Markus broke their spirits," said Beverly, who had 21 carries for 123 yards. "You could just see them hanging their heads like they knew the game was over. That was when I knew we were going to win the game."
Parkdale could have had an even larger lead at halftime. The Panthers turned over the ball twice inside the Sherwood 6-yard line, including junior defensive back Jose Castillo's interception in the end zone with 20 seconds in the half.
Parkdale fumbled on its first play from scrimmage in the second half, and Sherwood took over on the Parkdale 22. Four plays later, senior running back Josh Twyman prevented the Warriors from becoming just the fourth 4A team to be shut out in the state final by scoring on a five-yard run with 9:59 remaining in the third quarter.
Sherwood forced Parkdale to punt on its ensuing possession. Sherwood got the ball on its 17-yard line and gained 31 yards before punting to Parkdale, which took over at its 37-yard line with 2:47 remaining in the third quarter.
The Panthers re-established complete control on the next possession, when Beverly scored on a two-yard run with 9:35 remaining in the game.
Parkdale is the third school from Prince George's County to win the 4A title in four seasons -- Bowie won last season and Eleanor Roosevelt won in 1999. Sherwood of Sandy Spring became the sixth Montgomery County team out of the last seven to fall to a Prince George's team in the playoffs.
"I respect Montgomery County football, but I think the best football is played in our county," said Beverly, whose team finished the season on an eight-game winning streak. "We are the ones who won the state championship."