4A North final: No. 14 Sherwood at Westminster, 7 p.m.
In preparation for this Friday’s Maryland 4A North final against undefeated Westminster, Sherwood coach Mike Bonavia called two of his former quarterbacks this week, Deontay Twyman and Bobby Sheahin, and asked for a favor.
Bonavia wanted Twyman and Sheahin to run the scout team offense this week at practice, and to emulate prolific Westminster quarterback Deryk Kern, who has been the catalyst for the Owls’ ground-breaking season which included a 51-7 drubbing of Blake in the Maryland 4A North Semifinal last weekend.
By all accounts, the proposition has paid off. Twyman, who graduated in 2007 and earned All-Met honors at quarterback, and Sheahin (who played at Maryland from 2005-2007 and is considered one of Sherwood’s all-time great quarterbacks) still live in the area and have been testing Sherwood’s young secondary all week.
“No offense to the Westminster quarterback, but they’re a little bit better,” Sherwood defensive back Richie Dipietro said. “It’s so unbelievably helpful… It’s really helped our safeties.”
Bonavia expects the Owls (11-0) to throw on “90 percent” of their snaps on Friday night, which creates a unique situation for his defense, considering the limited amount of spread offenses Sherwood (10-2) faced this fall. Bonavia said he will employ a nickel defense, featuring five or six defensive backs, much of the time during the game. The game-plan will be similar to what Sherwood prepared for in advance of its 35-28 win over Northwest last month. The Jaguars spread offense, led by senior quarterback Matty Callahan, produced 28 first half-points, but the nickel package was the difference in a second-half shutout for the Warriors.
“This team is making it very difficult for us. We’ve changed our defense only in one way: We’ve never had to use a nickel defense against teams we’ve played…we’ll be in more five to six defensive backs as opposed to four and five defensive backs,” Bonavia said. “If we play this team for four quarters, the way we played Northwest for two quarters, we can be victorious. We are much improved in our secondary. But we’re really going to have to be vastly improved.”
Sherwood is hoping that Twyman and Sheahin will make up that difference. Dipietro said the move showed the team how serious the coaching staff is taking Kern, and has forced the defense to make plays all week.
“You either make the play or you don’t…(the defensive backs) have realized I can’t be lazy, I have to hustle every play,” said Dipietro. “The only thing that is going to worry me: are we going to stay disciplined?”
3A West final: Urbana at No. 8 Seneca Valley, 7 p.m.
Seneca Valley Coach Fred Kim places the births of his three children tied atop the list of the greatest moments of his life. Right behind them, he’d list winning the 1987 Maryland AA state championship as a player in his senior season at the Germantown school.
Those priorities begin to explain the emotions Kim and offensive coordinator Bob Plante have felt this week preparing the Screamin’ Eagles (10-1) for Friday’s Maryland 2A South final against Urbana (8-3). Kim’s son J.P. is a sophomore call-up to the Hawks’ varsity squad, and Plante’s son Brandon is a junior starting cornerback.
“It makes things extremely stressful to feel like you stand in the way of your child from something you want them so badly to experience for themselves as a young man,” Kim said. “It’s sad in a way, agonizing, that it has to be this way.”
The first of many difficult moments for Kim and Plante came in the minutes after Seneca Valley closed out a 12-7 win over North Hagerstown last Friday night.
The Eagles gathered in their locker room and followed the other region semifinal on Twitter with most openly rooting for the Hawks over top-seeded Damascus because the upset meant Seneca Valley would earn one more home game.
Kim said when Urbana’s 24-23 overtime victory became final, Plante quickly gathered his belongings and stormed out of the locker room amid a rush of emotion.
The Seneca Valley coaching staff typically begins game-planning for the next week at Kim’s house on Sunday afternoons, strategy sessions that usually coincide with a visit from Kim’s children. This time, J.P. Kim stayed at his mother’s house where he lives during the week.
While preparing for Urbana’s personnel has been easier for the Seneca Valley staff because Plante has known most of the team’s upper classmen since they were youngsters and Kim has the same familiarity with the young players, Kim had hoped to avoid such a matchup.
“This is really the ultimate nightmare for a dad/coach in this siutation,” Kim said.
After pushing through injuries late in the season, Seneca Valley will be almost back to full strength as it tries for its first state semifinal berth since 2008.
Senior running back James Jones-Williams has not carried the ball since injuring his hamstring in the team’s 14-13 loss at Damascus on Oct. 26, but he has practiced fully this week and will start on offense Friday, according to Kim.
Junior quarterback Calvin Reighard, who started last week’s game on the sideline coming back from a concussion, will start, as well, and the Eagles will also get back senior cornerback Trevon Thacker, who missed the North Hagerstown victory.
Owens resigns as Rockets’ coach
Neil Owens resigned as head coach at Richard Montgomery earlier this week, ending a three-year stint that saw him go 11-19.
Owens, who guided Richard Montgomery to a 6-4 record this season, said he informed his players Tuesday night of his resignation.
“I had a meeting with the athletic director on Monday (Jonathan Freda ) and he informed me that they were hoping that I would resign,” Owens said. “They wanted to go in another direction.”
Freda said Thursday that the school will pursue a “full interview process” to find Owens’ replacement, but declined further comment on the situation.
On Wednesday, Owens said he has fielded about a dozen phone calls this week from schools interested in adding him as a coach for next season. Richard Montgomery had back-to-back 0-10 seasons in 2009 and 2010, and went 5-5 last season under Owens.
“I thought we were moving the program in the right direction,” Owens said. “But I guess they had other ideas.”