This Friday evening, after you’ve gone to shop at Kohl’s at 4 a.m., seen this year’s big Thanksgiving week blockbuster, and eaten a few leftover turkey sandwiches, you’ll have two state semifinal football games to choose from in Howard County: in the 2A, Century (12-0) at River Hill (12-0), and in the 3A, Hereford (10-2) at Wilde Lake (11-1).
Both games are at 7 p.m., so you’ve got to choose one and stick with it. I sure would like to see staggered start times in the football playoffs, but that’s another blog I guess … Last week the Wilde Lake game was scheduled to start an hour before the River Hill game, but the officials at Wilde Lake didn’t realize that and didn’t get out to the field until after 6:30, so you wouldn’t have been able to double dip anyway. No one was more peeved at having to stand around waiting in the freezing cold than Wilde Lake coach Doug DuVall, who was wearing shorts and bare hands. I saw coach DuVall at the football state tournament press luncheon Tuesday at M&T Bank Stadium, and I’m happy to report that he didn’t look like this.
This Hereford-Wilde Lake game looks to be a doozy. DuVall cautioned me that his team would not be able to run wild on Hereford like it did against Fallston in the region championship.
“I’m not sure we can stop (Hereford), but we’ve got a pretty good idea of what they’ll do … as you work your way up through the pyramid that’s the way it gets,” DuVall said. “It becomes a little bit more of a chess game rather than a poker game.”
Hereford runs a Wing T offense like River Hill, the only team to defeat Wilde Lake this season, 12-0. Hereford’s two losses are to Perry Hall, by three, and Douglass, by three. River Hill defeated Douglass in the region championship, so there is a common opponent chain that goes like this: Wilde Lake lost to River Hill (12-0) which beat Douglass (21-6) which beat Hereford (20-17) which plays Wilde Lake Friday night … for whatever all that is worth (that common opponent chain and 50 cents will get you half a can of soda).
Here’s the tale of the tape. Hereford senior running back Nick DePaola (jersey #10) has rushed for 1,466 yards and 14 TDs on 188 carries and caught nine passes for 179 and two.
Wilde Lake senior running back Jarrel Epps (#6) has rushed for 1,014 yards and 15 touchdowns on 121 carries and caught seven passes for 112 and two. DePaola has returned ten kickoffs for for 234 yards, Epps has returned 10 for 201.
Wilde Lake’s next two rushers, Danny March (#4) and Christian Hough (#2) have combined for 1,296 and 13 TDs. Hereford’s next two, Hasani Cromwell (#9) and Neil Deluca (#2) have combined for 933 and 13.
Hereford QB David Wood (#19) has thrown for 662 yards (31/74), 8 TDs and 5 INTs. March has 487 (25/46), 5 and 2.
Interceptions: March and Epps have 9, DePaola and Reilly Crosby (#21) have five. Sacks: Wilde Lake’s Chaz Cousins-Lee (#7) and Jackson Drury (#80) have 15, Hereford’s Scott Schmelz (#56) and Ron Rose (#99) have 16.
Punting and field goal numbers are nearly identical between the two teams.
Roster size. Wilde Lake: 46. Hereford: 47. The average Wildecat is listed at 5-11, 196 pounds; the average Bull is 5-11, 190 pounds.
Get the point? It’s going to be close.
“It’ll be whoever gets the ball last I’m sure,” DuVall says.
My pick: Wilde Lake, 22-14. Yes, I’m a homer and I want to see Coach DuVall on the sideline at M&T Bank Stadium for his last game.
Onto Clarksville. Although River Hill opened just over ten years ago, its got the edge on Century in terms of history. Century opened in 2000, and this is its first time in the playoffs. In fact, this is the first season the Knights have had a record above .500. River Hill, meanwhile, has gone to the playoffs six years in a row, won four straight region titles, and is the defending state champ.
“The impressive thing is how they’re getting better throughout the playoffs,” River Hill coach Brian Van Deusen said. “It’s their first time there, but you couldn’t tell.”
Century’s big three offensive weapons are bruising running back Cory Anderlik (#34, 6-0, 235) who has rushed for 1,139 yards on 163 attempts and 14 touchdowns; quarterback Josh Bordner (#12, 6-4, 190), who has thrown for 2,049 yards (125/217), 17 touchdowns and 14 interceptions; and receiver Luke Wright (#4), who has caught 45 passes for 754 yards and ten touchdowns.
“They’ve got good balance on offense, real good quarterback, a very good receiver, and also in the backfield they’ve got a big running back … they’re a tough team to defend,” Van Deusen said.
Defensive backs Michael Campanaro (#5) and Malek Redd (#2) will have their hands full defending against the Knights prolific passing attack. They haven’t been tested too much this year, probably because they’re so adept at covering receivers that opponents don’t bother. But you can expect a quarterback who has averaged 18 pass attempts per game to at least give it a try.
Campanaro and Redd won’t just be toiling in pass defense, though. That duo has combined for 2,726 yards and 38 touchdowns (Campanaro: 186 rushes for 1704 and 26; Redd: 99/1022/12) in the running game. River Hill doesn’t pass it nearly as much as Century, but when they do, they’re efficient. Luke Hostetler (#11) has thrown for 472 yards (27/58) seven touchdowns, and one interception. Campanaro has caught 17 passes for 266 yards and seven scores.
“We’re hoping that our speed maybe can give them some problems, I don’t think they’ve seen a whole lot of teams with our speed,” Van Deusen said.
Wright is the man in the Century return game. He has returned 10 kicks for 296 yards (29.6 average) and a score, and 13 punts for 85 (6.5) and a score.
River Hill splits its return duties between its two best athletes. Redd has returned only four kickoffs for 216 yards (54) and two TDs. Campanaro has six punt returns for 170 yards (28) and two TDs. Give River Hill the edge on special teams.
River Hill has only had to punt ten times this season, so I won’t compare those numbers. But I will say that Century’s punter is averaging 32 yards per punt, which is good.
Sacks: River Hill’s Ryan Griffin (#27) has five, Century’s Bordner (the rare QB who also plays defensive end) and Zach Zile (#86) have eight sacks each. Edge on pass rush goes to Century, though the Hawk O-line has been pretty good and should hold up. I should also note that as a tight end, Zile has caught 25 passes for 498 yards and three scores, as Century’s second leading receiver.
Interceptions: Campanaro and Wright each have five. Campanaro returned two of them for touchdowns.
River Hill has seven shut outs. Century has two.
Scoring differential: RH: 505-40; C: 403-132.
Roster: RH: 37; C: 35. The average Hawk is 5-11, 188. The average Knight is 5-10, 180.
Century’s season has been impressive, going all the way to the state semifinals in their first playoff appearance (Tampa Bay Rays anyone?) But I don’t see their story ending with a state championship win (or appearance.)
River Hill, 35-13.
It’s snowing as I write this, but it’s supposed to stop by game time. Still, it’s gonna be CHILLY! The temperature could get down into the 20s, and it could feel like it’s in the teens! Bring lots of warm clothes, maybe a blanket to lay over your knees, and maybe even some of those hand-warmer things to stick in your gloves. The concession stand is probably going to sell a lot of hot cocoa tonight.
Now here’s the schedule: No. 2 Fallston kicks off at top-seeded Wilde Lake at 6 p.m. for the 3A East region championship. Then at 7, No. 3 Douglass kicks off at top-seeded River Hill for the 2A South championship. So you could catch the Wilde Lake game, and then be over at River Hill in time for the second half. That’s my plan, with my colleague Brent Kennedy spotting the first half at River Hill for me.
In the first game of the doubleheader, Wilde Lake (10-1) has tradition, and the home field advantage, on its side. Fallston (8-3), which opened in 1977, had never made the football playoffs until this year. The Cougars have been coached by Dave Cesky since the school opened. Wilde Lake has made the playoffs 14 times and won five state championships under coach Doug DuVall. Fallston is led by senior quarterback Garrett Weinhold, who had been a running back before this season. Wilde Lake is led by senior quarterback Danny March, who has rushed for 562 yards this season. Both quarterbacks return kicks. Weinhold (No. 15 in your program) is supported in the running game by David Ivory (No. 5) and Tony Johnson (No. 7). March (No. 4) is supported by Jarrel Epps (No. 6), Christian Hough (No. 2) and Mike Fields (No. 10). Both teams have good overall speed and playmakers on special teams and in the secondary.
MaxPreps ranks Wilde Lake 13th in the state, and ranks Fallston 68th.
The pick: Wilde Lake by two touchdowns.
In the main event, River Hill (ranked No. 2 by MaxPreps, behind Loyola) takes on ninth-ranked Douglass. The Hawks held off Gwynn Park last week, 20-6. Douglass was one of only two teams to defeat Gwynn Park during the regular season, although the Eagles lost to Friendly, by three, and Fort Hill, by two.
The Eagles are led by junior dual-threat quarterback Richard Barber (No. 9), who does not mind throwing the ball to senior Maurco Bradley (No. 6), and senior rusher/linebacker Trey Massey (No. 26). River Hill is led by seniors Mike Campanaro (No. 5) and Malek Redd (No. 2) in the running game. That pair also anchors the pass defense and secondary. Another pair of seniors, quarterback Luke Hostetler (No. 11) and receiver Leron Eaddy (No. 1) key the passing game. Eaddy is also a sideline-to-sideline linebacker who can drop into pass coverage and is the heart of the Hawk defense. Each team has six shutouts this season.
Starting with its first playoff appearance in 2004, River Hill (11-0) improved one step each year under coach Brian Van Deusen, culminating with a state championship last season. Douglass (9-2) has made 12 playoff appearances, but has never won a championship, falling in the first round in each of the past two years. Douglass beat North Point, 32-10, to get over the hump this year. The Eagles are coached by J.C. Pinkney.
The pick: River Hill by one touchdown.
NOTE: Because Wilde Lake defeated Howard in the playoffs opening round, there was no need to update the power rankings this week. Therefore, last week was the final edition. If you think that the rankings were wrong, I’d be happy to listen to your argument. E-mail me at email@example.com. Thanks for reading.
…River Hill senior running back.
Campanaro was named first team all-county as a sophomore after scoring 19 touchdowns five different ways (punt return, rush from scrimmage, reception, fumble recovery and interception return). He then earned Offensive Player of the Year status for 2007 after rushing for 1,820 yards and scoring 32 touchdowns in helping his team win its first state championship. The Wake Forest signee also helped River Hill win a state championship in basketball in 2007 with 88 assists and a county-best 75 steals. So far this season, Campanaro has 1,329 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns. In the last game of the regular season, he rushed for two touchdowns, passed for another and returned an interception for yet another score, all in the first half of the Hawks’ 41-0 win over Glenelg. Campanaro and his teammates, currently riding a 25-game winning streak, host Frederick Douglass, of Prince George’s County, Friday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. for the Class 2A South Region championship and a ticket to the state final four.
TV show I can’t miss: House
Favorite pre-game locker room song: Go Hard (Kanye West and T-pain) (warning: explicit lyrics)
Best on field moment: Waiting 40 Yards back For a punt return
Hobby that I have or had in the past that would surprise people: I’m a great bowler
Favorite movie of all time: P.S. I love You
Top professional athlete role model: Reggie Bush
Hardest class I ever took: Functions And Trig
Best part-time job I’ve ever had: Camp Counselor
Got an idea for a ‘30-second Time Out’ question? Know a local athlete who would be an ideal candidate for a ‘30-second Time Out?’ Send your suggestions to the sports staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before Wednesday night’s state semifinal win over Northern, Centennial sophomore right side hitter Liz Brown, who is listed as 5-foot-11, warmed up as a setter. During the match, in a set up coach Larry Schofield called “the Z option,” Brown played at times as setter, giving the Eagles a bigger block to combat Northern’s renowned offense. Brown converted on eight assists as Centennial outblocked Northern, 5-1.
The system worked. Centennial swept Northern, considered one of the best team’s in the state, 3-0. Schofield said that he did not use the Z option against Fallston in the regional championship, because Northern was there scouting, and he did not want them to be able to prepare for what he had in store.
So what does this have to do with 2009? Centennial setters Jackie Hawkins and Karen Hillsley graduate after this season. Junior Katherine Barry has seen action at the position this season, and the Eagles could always promote from the JV or freshman team. Heck, their could even be an incredible eighth grader out there waiting to take over.
But having a tall setter allows a team to run their offense without sacrificing the block when the setter rotates to the front row. Reservoir used a tall setter, 6-foot-4 Tiffany Jacobson, to go undefeated and win a state championship in 2007. Their opponent that year was Huntingtown, which made it to the state championship match three years in a row with 6-foot setter Lauren Jeschelnik.
When discussing the “Z option” after the win Wednesday, Centennial’s current setter, Hawkins, joked that Brown “was born to be a setter, but she’s just too tall.”
To which Schofield replied, “tell that to Alisha Glass,” referring to Penn State’s 6-foot tall junior setter. Glass, who holds the national high school record for career kills, converted to setter collegiately, and so far this season has 964 assists and 76 blocks.
While Schofield may have other plans for ‘09, Brown at setter is at least an intriguing option.
There wasn’t a whole heck of a lot going on last week that would concern these ranks. I could try to get cute and shuffle up the rankings anyway, but I don’t think that would be prudent. We still have three teams (Howard, River Hill, and Wilde Lake) alive in the playoffs, though Howard plays at Wilde Lake tonight in the opening round, so the most we can hope for tomorrow is two. Long Reach barely missed a spot. I’ll be covering Glenelg volleyball in the state championship tonight, but my colleagues Brent Kennedy and Nate Sandstrom will be holding down the fort at Wilde Lake and River Hill. I should make it back in time for some second-half action.
I can’t pick against Wilde Lake in a home playoff game with DuVall under the headset, but Howard has been playing some great football these last two weeks. I’ve heard a lot of talk about Gwynn Park, but River Hill’s got a game plan and the athletes to execute it. This is an exciting time of year when we get to see how our boys from Howard County match up against teams from other parts of Maryland. Catch the playoff fever! But make sure you bring a raincoat, it’s going to be wet tonight…
1. (1-last week’s ranking) River Hill. (10-0, 464 points scored, 28 points allowed)
Good way to end the season, with a shutout of a quality opponent. Mike Campanaro ran for two touchdowns, returned an interception 75 yards for another and threw a touchdown pass to teammate Kevin Moore. All in the first half. Not bad. Now it’s playoff time and the River Hill players are saying, “Lets go!”
Last week: Beat Glenelg (4-6), 41-0. This week: Class 2A South semifinals, home against Gwynn Park (8-2), Friday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m.
2. (2) Wilde Lake. (9-1, 279-137)
Another Mudcats classic is in store for tonight. Howard-Wilde Lake has become a great rivalry over the last couple seasons.Look for a lot of running plays up the gut.
Last week: Beat Reservoir (5-5), 33-14. This week: Class 3A East semifinal, home against No. 3 Howard (7-3), Friday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m.
3. (3) Howard. (7-3, 317-173)
The Lions actually needed to win last week to get their playoff spot, otherwise, Long Reach would have been in. When you look at their schedule they should really be a 9-1 team like Wilde Lake. They did not have to play River Hill this year, and they lost by three points to No. 7 Centennial and No. 9 Glenelg. Either way, a No. 2 vs. No. 3 opening round playoff match up is a treat for county football fans.
Last week: Beat Mt. Hebron (3-7), 55-13. This week: Class 3A East semifinal, at No. 2 Wilde Lake (9-1), Friday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m.
4. (4) Marriotts Ridge. (7-3, 309-171)
After taking it on the chin for the first half against Centennial, the Mustangs finally got it together and played for pride, closing the season with a win. It’s too bad they’re not playoff bound, but as quarterback Tim Blair said, that’s just how it goes sometimes.
Last week: Beat Centennial (4-6), 38-20. End of season.
5. (5) Long Reach. (7-3, 247-166)
Another hard-luck playoff story. Their week 3 game with Howard was essentially a battle for one playoff spot, as it turns out, even though the Lightning beat Centennial and Glenelg, two teams the Lions lost to. Could they beat Marriotts Ridge to take the four spot if they played them? Maybe, maybe not. Unfortunately their performances against common opponent Howard (Lightning lost by 29, Mustangs by 10) has to be the tiebreaker.
Last week: Beat Hammond (0-10), 34-0. End of season.
6. (6) Reservoir. (5-5, 148-225)
The Gators put up a gutsy showing against the Wildecats. I think .500 is about the best they could hope for. Sean Jones did an admirable job taking over as head coach toward the end of the preseason.
Last week: Lost to Wilde Lake (9-1), 33-14. End of season.
7. (7) Centennial. (4-6, 190-235)
Almost pulled off the week 10 upset that would have boosted them up a rung. Atholton did beat them, 20-19. Should they switch spots? What do you think?
Last week: Lost to Marriotts Ridge (6-4), 38-20. End of season.
8. (8) Atholton. (3-7, 225-264)
It looks like the Raiders let some frustration out for a disappointing season in week 10, posting 54 on the Scorps.That’s almost twice as many points as they scored in any game this season (28).
Last week: Beat Oakland Mills (1-9), 54-26. End of season.
9. (9) Glenelg. (4-6, 232-237)
Glenelg was almost one of the top teams in the county. They almost beat Wilde Lake (three points) and Marriotts Ridge (overtime). Either one of those wins and they’d be in the playoffs right now. And they did beat Howard. But they lost decisively to Atholton and Centennial…
Last week: Lost to River Hill (10-0), 41-0. End of season.
10. (10) Mt. Hebron. (3-7, 162-303)
They had a lot of good juniors on this year’s team. The Vikings are going to win at least a couple more games next year.
Last week: Lost to Howard (7-3), 55-13. End of season.
On the bubble: Hammond (0-10), Oakland Mills (1-9).
Andrew took his first job with the Howard County Times as an editorial assistant/obituary writer in 2001. He has written about an array of sports, from rugby to roller skate dancing. Andrew was a (mediocre) swimmer at Loyola College, but he enjoys playing many sports, including rec-league softball, kickball, basketball, football, soccer, and ultimate Frisbee. He would play rec-league unicycle badminton if he could find a league. He is a fan of all the Baltimore sports clubs, from the O’s to the Blast. When he’s not obsessing over the athletic endeavors of others, Andrew enjoys watching zombie movies from the 70s and 80s. He resides in Catonsville.