Wilde Lake entered the Maryland 3A East playoffs at 2-7 and as the No. 8 seed. River Hill was the region’s top seed at 8-1. The Wildecats’ slim odds of winning didn’t faze them.
“The whole school didn’t think we were going to win, but that just gave us more ammunition,” Wilde Lake defensive end Nathan Unuigbe said. “It made us want to win it even more.”
This year, Maryland began allowing eight teams per region into the playoffs instead of four, creating opportunities for major upsets. Wilde Lake wouldn’t have come close to making the postseason in the past.
On Oct. 4, River Hill defeated Wilde Lake, 41-7. During practice last week, Wilde Lake watched film of that game to break down its mistakes. The Wildecats were aligned incorrectly for the majority of the game.
Wilde Lake fixed those miscues in practice and jumped out to a 7-3 halftime lead Friday. The Wildecats executed an onside kick to start the second half, and quarterback Doniele Cooper then connected with wide receiver Justin Avinger for a touchdown.
Friday was Wilde Lake’s first playoff win since 2010, when it won the Maryland 3A championship.
“We really harp on the fact that a lot of times you don’t get a second opportunity — you don’t get a second chance,” Henderson said. “When they do come, you got to take full advantage of them.”
⇒ Player of the week from Maryland: Ramal West, CB, Wilde Lake. The junior had two interceptions, including the game-winner, in the Wildecats’ upset of River Hill.
⇒ Game to watch in Maryland: North Point at Oxon Hill, Friday, 7 p.m.
⇒ Big number: One. Rockville has one playoff win in program history after its 28-9 victory over Watkins Mill on Friday.
⇒ Quotable: “Both the games that we lost we only lost by one point, so in my mind I’m still undefeated.” — St. Charles wide receiver Konner Blount-Foster after his team’s 24-21 win over Northern on Friday.
— Kyle Melnick
After a district title, Yorktown eyes postseason
Bruce Hanson knows a good football team when he sees one. The Yorktown coach just wrapped up his 35th regular season at the helm of the Patriots. If a team has potential and talent, you can bet he’ll recognize that earlier than most.
Coming into this season, Hanson thought the Patriots roster could be one of the better ones he has had in his time in Arlington. If the regular season was any indication, he was right.
On Friday night, the Patriots beat Washington-Liberty, 17-10, to capture their first district title since 2012 and improve to 9-1. They enter the postseason as the No. 3 seed in the Class 6 Region D bracket and face Marshall on Friday.
“We’re going to be a tough out,” Hanson said. “We can give anybody a game.”
After starting the season 2-1 with a close loss to Mount Vernon, the Patriots rattled off seven straight wins. But the streak didn’t mean much to the Patriots. Hanson has learned in his time as a coach that when things are going right, only focus on the future.
“We didn’t look back, but we were looking forward,” he said.
One reason Hanson feels good about this team is senior quarterback Grant Wilson. He has led a pass-happy Patriots offense, racking up over 2,000 passing yards and 20 touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball, Yorktown has a stingy defense that gave up only eight touchdowns.
“We’re kind of an unknown commodity for some of the bigger teams in Northern Virginia,” Hanson said.
He’s hoping that won’t be true for long.
⇒ Player of the week from Virginia: Jakari Lewis, RB, Osbourn. In a win over Osbourn Park, the sophomore rushed for 327 yards and four touchdowns on just seven carries.
⇒ Game to watch in Virginia: T.C. Williams at West Springfield, Friday, 7 p.m.
⇒ Highlight: South County ran a beautiful trick play in a 40-29 win over rival Lake Braddock.
— Michael Errigo
Roosevelt keeps rising
With the fourth and final playoff spot in the District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association Stars division up for grabs, Theodore Roosevelt and Ballou had a big carrot in front of them Friday, despite their sub-.500 records.
And in a defense-first game befitting the teams, the Roughriders’ defense secured one more stop than Ballou’s, as Roosevelt outlasted the Knights 12-6.
“Playing in a win-or-go-home game was all about those four words: win or go home,” Roosevelt linebacker/running back RuQuan Brown said. “I encouraged our young guys to fight for their seniors to continue our season. We wanted it more, so we took it, and that’s the way we plan to play going forward”
Clinching a fifth straight DCIAA playoff appearance by knocking off a perennial powerhouse — even if Ballou is in a down year — is the latest accomplishment in Roosevelt’s quick ascent from Stripes division bottom-feeder to Stars contender.
During Roosevelt’s five-year playoff stretch, the Roughriders captured back-to-back Stripes division championships in 2016 and 2017 prompting their promotion to the Stars division in 2018.
“It’s been a blessing working our way up to the Stars division, but until we win the Stars division, we haven’t reached the type of success that we’re hunting after,” Brown said. “But we’ll get it, the same way we did the Stripes ones: patience and focus. Patience to know everything doesn’t happen overnight, as it hasn’t, and the focus to remain locked in on our goal of winning the 50th Turkey Bowl.”
⇒ Player of the week for D.C./Prince George’s County: Rashard Biggs, RB, Wilson. The senior had 190 yards and five rushing TDs in the Tigers’ 56-14 win over Eastern.
⇒ Game of the week for D.C./Prince George’s County: Wilson vs. H.D. Woodson, Saturday, 11 a.m.
— Tramel Raggs