Potomac (Md.) senior running back Anthoinial Coles made one point perfectly clear after his team won its third consecutive Maryland 2A South Region title with a 12-0 victory at Atholton last night in Columbia.

"We're still the state champions," he said. "We won it last year, and we plan to win it again this year."

The Wolverines (10-2) looked every bit the defending state champion against Atholton (8-4), as they got all the offense they would need early and turned it over to a defense that did not allow the Raiders past Potomac's 38-yard line.

Potomac will look to advance to the state final for the third consecutive year when it plays at Joppatowne next weekend.

Potomac took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter when senior quarterback James Nickens threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Bobby Shannon, who continues to emerge as one of the area's top receivers. Shannon, a second-team All-Met basketball guard who was academically ineligible for the first eight games of the football season, has seven catches -- six for touchdowns -- for 163 yards in four games.

Potomac doubled its lead with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter when Coles, who rushed for a game-high 104 yards on 17 carries, burst down the sideline for a 56-yard touchdown. After the score, Coles was flagged for excessive celebration, and Nickens's pass on the two-point conversion attempt from the 17-yard line was incomplete.

Potomac's defense took care of the rest by forcing three turnovers and holding Atholton senior running back Matt Winger, who entered averaging 177 yards a game, to just 33 yards on 12 carries.

Atholton had won six straight games after starting the season 2-3 to earn a playoff berth for the first time in 20 years.

"This one hurts really bad because we had our chances," Atholton junior quarterback Brett McQuilkin said. "The game came down to a few plays and they made them. We knew coming in here the winner of this game was probably going to win the state title. Potomac is a great team, and we wish them well."