Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Sherwood quarterback Deontay Twyman said he "felt like we could move the ball anytime we wanted." The Warriors had taken their first possession and passed the ball down the field seemingly at will in Friday night's Maryland 4A final against top-ranked Damascus. The strong-armed junior completed four consecutive passes, the last one going for a 19-yard touchdown to Ben Everett.
It had been like this most of the season for fourth-ranked Sherwood. Behind Twyman and Everett, Sherwood averaged 40 points per game during the regular season and outscored its first three playoff opponents by a combined 101-7.
The Warriors' second possession, however, ended with an interception as Twyman and Everett got their signals crossed. And that was the way the rest of the night went. Sherwood finished with six turnovers and was left to think about what might have been following a 21-6 loss.
"We still felt we could move the ball," said Twyman, who threw 29 touchdown passes this season. "They just made the big plays at the right time."
Part of the Damascus game plan was to try to disguise its pass coverage. Twyman said Sherwood expected Damascus to play a three-deep zone coverage to try to limit long pass plays. The Swarmin' Hornets often lined up showing zone coverage or man-to-man then switched once a play started, Twyman said.
Damascus Coach Dan Makosy said that was just part of the defensive scheme. The Hornets also played their "combo zone," playing zone defense on one side of the field and man-to-man on the other side.
"We tried to confuse them," Makosy said. "I guess it worked."
Sherwood's strong passing game is predicated on Twyman and his receivers reading coverage to determine the routes on any given play. But on Twyman's first interception, he threw as if Everett was running a slant when the receiver ran a hitch. Another interception was a deep pass into double coverage. Twyman finished with 11 of 19 for 136 yards but had four interceptions; seven of his 16 interceptions this season came in two losses to Damascus.
Sherwood Coach Al Thomas, while saying he did not want to make excuses, said part of his team's struggles were attributable to the inclement weather this past week. The Warriors believed their 25-7 loss in the teams' regular season meeting was attributable to playing in the rain, which slowed down their passing game. Thomas said having to practice indoors in a gymnasium three times this past week also made a difference.
"These guys can't work on the passing game in a gym," Thomas said.
The defensive success led to some extracurricular activities in the Damascus locker room, where players used a pair of electronic clippers to shave the head of defensive coordinator Joe Doody.
"Two years ago, we said if we won we were shaving his head on the 50 and we forgot the clippers," said Nick Sefcik, who had three interceptions. "Last year, we remembered the clippers but unfortunately we lost. This year, we said we were going to get him and we got the clippers."