3A South final: Westlake at No. 3 Huntingtown, 7 p.m.
Huntingtown (10-1) has dominated the playoff games, eliminating the Wolverines from each of the last three postseasons with an average margin of victory of more than 30 points per game on the way to three consecutive region titles.
Westlake (8-3), on the other hand, gave the Hurricanes their only loss so far this season, a 14-7 Week 7 grinder in the middle of the Wolverines’ six-game winning streak during which they allowed just 15 total points.
Perhaps the best way to consider the teams’ history, then, is to ignore it.
“The kids will be motivated and focused on this game,” Huntingtown Coach Brendan Galligan said. “Westlake is a confident group. They don’t care what’s happened in the last couple of years against us, either.”
A lot has happened even since the teams met last month.
Huntingtown has regained its offensive firepower, averaging 36 points per game in its last three wins. Junior running back Arnez Bowens has continued his emergence as one of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference’s top rushers, eclipsing the 100-yard mark in each of the last two weeks.
Westlake, meantime, has seen its defense suddenly allow at least 30 points in each of its last two games, and lost starting quarterback Antwaine Carter to a serious neck injury in Week 10 against North Point.
“Westlake is always going to be fast and physical, but this is their fastest team I can remember,” Galligan said. “We know what’s ahead of us.
3A East final: No. 16 Atholton at No. 6 River Hill, 7 p.m.
After taking the regular season off, the Raiders and Hawks will renew their rivalry Friday night right where it left off last season: the Maryland 3A east region finals.
The two Howard County powers will square off for the first time this season with a trip to the state semifinals on the line, just as they did a year ago when River Hill avenged its early season loss against the Raiders with a 21-12 victory at Atholton. River Hill went on to win the 3A state championship two weeks later, while the Raiders finished with just two losses, one to River Hill in the playoffs and another by forfeit against Glenelg.
This season, River Hill will play host to the Raiders, boasting an undefeated record and a defense that has held six of its 11 opponents scoreless this season, including a four-game shut out streak in the month of October. The Hawks’ defense has been almost equally impressive, averaging more than 47 points per game this season. River Hill has three players with double-digit touchdown totals through 11 games, including senior running back Evan Griffin who has scored 20 times this season, the most in Howard County.
The Raiders arrive in the region final a week after squeaking by Reservoir 21-20 in overtime of their semifinal game. Atholton has not lost since the fourth week of the season when it fell to then-winless Long Reach, 13-12. Like River Hill, the Raiders found their defensive rhythm as the season wore on, holding opponents to 6 points or less three times in their last 7 games.