MARYLAND 4A FINAL
No. 7 Northwest vs. No. 4 Suitland
When: Friday, 7:30 pm
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
How they got here: Many labeled Northwest’s regular season win over Quince Orchard an upset — until the Jaguars downed the Cougars again in the Maryland 4A West final. They outgunned Paint Branch 55-36 in last week’s state semifinal, and Suitland won the other semi in similarly convincing style, 46-25 over Meade.
When Northwest has the ball: Balance defines Northwest’s offense, which threw for 1,717 yards and rushed for 1,731 this season. Sophomore quarterback Mark Pierce has a deep arsenal of speedy receiving weapons, highlighted by versatile senior Joshua Gills, and he’s used them well lately, including a 393-yard, six-touchdown showing in the win over Paint Branch.
When Suitland has the ball: Habitually slow starters, the Rams are hard to stop once they get in rhythm. Suitland’s got proven big-play potential in the backfield in running back Robert Wigfall and on the outside in wide receivers Nick Nelson, Steven Rivers and Tevin Singleton. The key to the Rams’ success is senior quarterback Wesley Wolfolk, a big-play threat himself, who’s as apt to toss a 65-yard touchdown pass as he is to break off a 50-yard run.
Skinny: If you’d polled are football fans before this season, few would have predicted a 4A final featuring Northwest or Suitland, let alone both of them. The Rams last won a state title in 2006. They also won one in 2004, the same year Northwest won its most recent state championship. Suitland took the 4A title that season, while Northwest, reclassified to 4A within the last decade, took home the 3A championship.