Long Reach earned the second football playoff berth in its nine-year history with a 22-19 victory over Mount Hebron in a Howard County game Friday night in Columbia. Ken Smith's one-yard run with five minutes left capped a second-half comeback as the Lightning overcame a 19-7 deficit in the second half.

With the victory, Long Reach (9-1) set a school record with victories in a season and earned the third seed in the Maryland 3A East Region. The fourth seed will be decided this afternoon. Douglass can secure the berth with a victory over Friendly, but Mount Hebron (8-2, 7-2) would earn the seed if the Eagles lose.

"For all these years we were always that second-tier team, but now making the playoffs and going 9-1, it shows how good we are this year," said Long Reach linebacker John Montgomery, whose team last qualified for the playoffs in 1997, when it was a 2A school.

R. Montgomery Prevails

With running back and linebacker Steve Weedon sick and unable to play, running back Kevon Calhoun rushed for two touchdowns in the first half and Richard Montgomery held on for a 14-7 victory over Blair last night to earn its second playoff berth since 1985.

"I wanted to win without [Weedon] because I wanted this team to know it was Richard Montgomery that could win," Coach Mike Bonavia said. "But we weren't as sharp, we weren't as aggressive and we weren't as manly."

An Unhappy Ending

There was not much Northern Coach A.J. Berberian could do last night. With his team comfortably ahead of Leonardtown in the closing minutes of a 29-7 victory, Berberian turned his attention to his cell phone and a pair of other games that would determine his team's ability to make the postseason. When McDonough beat La Plata, 28-14, and Severna Park edged Broadneck, 29-27, Berberian knew Northern was left out of the Maryland 3A South Region playoffs despite finishing 8-2.

"Right now I think the system has a flaw," Berberian said, upset that teams with fewer victories were able to qualify for the postseason.

-- Jon Gallo and Josh Barr