After enjoying some turkey on Thursday, let this weekend’s slate of playoff football function as your dessert. There are plenty of great games around the DMV, including state semifinals in Maryland and four local regional finals in Virginia. Here are 10 things to watch around the area:
QO gets another shot at Wise
Quince Orchard has wanted another chance at Wise after losing to the Pumas in the past two Maryland 4A championships. The Cougars will get that opportunity Friday, and the game’s winner will be the favorite in next week’s state championship. Wise isn’t as strong as usual, having lost its first game in four years, but it still looks like Maryland’s top public school team. Quince Orchard graduated star quarterback Doc Bonner, but it features a stingier defense than last season. The Cougars have been playing this season in honor of former teammate Tyler Terry, who died in February after suffering cardiac arrest.
North Point wants to continue making history
Last season, North Point won its region for the first time, and despite graduating 18 starters from that team, the Eagles will play for their initial state championship appearance Friday night against Mervo in the Maryland 4A semifinals. North Point has faced little trouble so far in the postseason, beating Arundel and South River by a combined 69 points. Malik Lawrence, North Point’s standout wide receiver and defensive back, will line up against Mervo’s athletic skill players.
“The groups that came before these guys, they did a good job of leaving their footprint and a blueprint of what it takes to be successful among other teams in our state,” North Point Coach Tom Petre said during the preseason.
All eyes on Wande Owens against New Town
Glenelg has dominated Howard County foes by feeding the ball to running back Wande Owens and letting the Yale commit do the rest. On Friday night, the Gladiators hope that strategy works outside of the county for the first time when they host New Town of Baltimore in the Maryland 2A semifinals. Owens has rushed for 2,417 yards this season and became Howard County’s all-time leading rusher. Glenelg fell to Damascus in last year’s semifinal, but it hopes Owens’ senior campaign will be different.
A season full of firsts continues for Chesapeake
This season has been full of firsts for Chesapeake. The Cougars started 6-0 for the first time, won their first playoff game and won their region for the initial time. But making it to the Maryland 3A championship game may be Chesapeake’s biggest challenge. The Cougars face Linganore, the defending state champion, in the semifinals. Chesapeake has looked strong this postseason, beating Northeast after losing to the Eagles in the final week of the regular season and then upsetting Bennett, 36-21. But Linganore’s only loss came against Oakdale, the Maryland 2A favorite, in October.
Huntingtown’s stingy D will have its hands full against Franklin
Huntingtown went 2-8 each of the past two seasons, but the Hurricanes turned their team around and beat Northern for the Maryland 3A South title. Huntingtown faces its first big challenge of the postseason against Baltimore County’s Franklin, which won the 2013 and 2014 state championships. The Hurricanes have gone 10-2 behind their balanced running game, led by Justin Foreman, and their stout defense. Huntingtown allows 5.1 points per game. Franklin, though, averages 34.8 points per game.
Is W.T. Woodson’s defense good enough to stop TyQuan Brown?
The top-seeded Cavaliers have made it to the regional final in part because of a stout defensive front. In their first round game against Robinson, they stuffed the wing-T. Last weekend against South County, they forced a fumble and interception in a gritty 20-10 win.
To win this week, they’ll have to contain one of the most dynamic players in the area: Freedom’s TyQuan Brown. Last week, Brown carried his team to a win over Hayfield, rushing the ball 44 times for 277 yards. If the Cavaliers can contain, that could be enough to set themselves up for a victory. The problem is, no team has figured out how to do that this season.
Madison’s defense is getting them closer and closer to a win over Westfield
It’s hard for any team in Virginia to say it matches up well with Westfield. Winners of the last three state championships, the Bulldogs possess a win streak that sits at 36 games.
But the Madison Warhawks have been able to play them close. Last year, their defense held the Bulldogs to their lowest scoring total of the season in a 10-6 loss. In early October, they did the same for this season in a 17-15 defeat. Madison never led that game, but it did show an ability to contain quarterback Noah Kim and the rest of Westfield’s weapons. The Warhawks will need to do that again this weekend if they want to knock off the kings of Northern Virginia and make the state semis.
Another Battle of the Burn? Yes, please.
Any time Broad Run and Stone Bridge face off, you know it’s going to be fun. This year, especially, is primed for a good “Battle of the Burn.” Both the Spartans and the Bulldogs are loaded with experience and talent. When they played three weeks ago, host Broad Run used strong defense late to secure a 26-20 win.
Stone Bridge’s offense, led by quarterback Mason Tatum and running backs Nick Mell and Zakias Moore, will have to figure out how to execute consistently against that Spartan front if it wants to make it to the state semifinals.
Woodgrove looks to keep the winning streak alive
Woodgrove will enter this weekend’s regional final matchup with Sherando on a seven-game winning streak. Its two losses this year, against Massaponax and Broad Run, came on back-to-back weeks in early September.
Since then it has been on a tear, beating opponents by an average margin of 23 points. The excitement and momentum that comes with a run like that is not foreign to the Wolverines, who won 11 straight games in both 2015 and 2016. But those seasons each ended short of the state playoffs. Maybe this one will be different.
Bell wants to follow Gravy Bowl success with DCSAA crown
After four years of heartbreak, Bell finally got the monkey off its back last week with its first D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association Gravy Bowl win. The Griffins (10-0) will have a chance to add to their hardware in the D.C. State Athletic Association class A championship against Kingsman Academy (12-1).
The Griffins have dominated the field this season, outscoring opponents 362-37 and recording six shutouts. Bell has a potent combination of an aggressive defensive line and a speedy offense headlined by senior running back Rashaad Harris. Kingsman Academy will need to play a structured game to prevent Harris and the Griffins from running away with it.