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October 6, 2010
Week 6 Weekend Watch (Part II)
Weekend Watch Part I
Gaithersburg (4-1) vs. Paint Branch (3-2)
Friday, October 8 @ 6:30 p.m.
Other than Sherwood, which has a stranglehold on the 4A West, the other three playoff spots are up for grabs. The picture will get a little clearer after this showdown between a pair of legitimate contenders. Gaithersburg came within a field goal of Sherwood (they lost 17-14) for their first loss of the year. Paint Branch, meanwhile, dismantled Blake, 35-7, to move to 3-2. But a loss for either team could be devastating for their playoff hopes.
Gaithersburg held their own against Sherwood's imposing defense, tallying over 200 yards. They only scored 14 points, but against a lesser defense Gaithersburg should put up over 25 per game.
The Gaithersburg attack starts with do-everything quarterback Zach Fetters, who has piled up 637 passing yards and 347 rushing yards. Fetters can single-handedly control a game, although running back Khare Cross can also help carry the load. But while the Trojans do like to run, it's their passing game that's worth watching. All four starting receivers dwarf opposing defensive backs. Sylvester Oni (6-4, 215), Kris Westphall (6-5, 200), Billy Brown (6-4, 210) and Simba Gwashazanhua (6-2, 170) are mismatches no matter where they line up.
Of course, Gaithersburg's line makes it all possible. Led by seniors Ben Rockwood, Dan Shields, Dee Brown and the 6-3, 290 Terrel Carter, the front five must continue their solid play.
Defensively, the Trojans are allowing less than 10 point per game. Oni and Dee Brown haven't met a line outside of Sherwood's that could contain them, while Rockwood and DJ Johnson are space-eaters in the middle. They held Sherwood to just 21 yards on the ground. The secondary has been just as good. Gwashazanhua, Cross, Fetters (4 interceptions) and Westphall form a formidable mix of size and speed.
The linebackers, however, have been the team's most inconsistent unit. Billy Brown and Stehen Kassasa have been solid all year, but underclassmen Larry Kpadehyea and Jack Greaney need to play well on a week-to-week basis.
Paint Branch lost two games in a row to B-CC and Sherwood, but they've recovered against two winless teams, Wootton and Blake. Now they have to prove they can beat an opponent with a winning record. It won't be easy unless Paint Branch ties up a few areas.
The Panthers are averaging 29 point per game on offense, although they've hit a few rough patches. Quarterback Dave Smith has thrown for 566 yards, but he's also tossed 10 interceptions and is completing less than 50 percent of his throws. The offensive line struggled early on without anchor Wade Smith, a 6-2, 285 tackle who was recovering from a torn ACL. His return is a welcome addition to a group that has no other starter over 240 pounds. The line's continued progress should be a boost to the running game. Bene't Willis has had just one breakout performance (213 yards, five touchdowns against Wootton) and needs another one for Paint Branch to have a chance.
The Panthers' defense has several young players in key spots. They currently start six underclassmen, including two sophomores at linebacker (Garrett Smith and Dominic Perciavalle) and a sophomore at tackle. So it's no surprise they have allowed 18 points per game this year and are giving up over 300 yards of total offense.
But there are a few standouts who have played well all year. Nose guard Chris Wilkins leads the team in tackles for loss and even has an interception. Fellow lineman Lance Fitzpatrick has consistently generated pressure. Junior Justin Hackley and senior Greg Smith have done a nice job at inside linebacker, and cornerback Earvin Anumgba, who is also the team's leading receiver, is one of the best defensive backs around.
Paint Branch needs their young players to build off their recent success to win this game. Gaithersburg may have lost last week, but they're a savvy group and Fetters and Co. can't be held down for long.
Prediction: Gaithersburg 25, Paint Branch 14
Potomac (4-1) vs. No. 20 Douglass (PG) (5-0)
Saturday, October 9 @ 2 p.m.
The battle for first place in PG County's 3A/2A division heats up with these two top teams. Potomac started the season with a lopsided loss (41-12 to McDonough), but has since run off four straight wins by a combined score of 128-38. Douglass, meanwhile, has scored 40-plus points three times and has given up a total of 12 points all year, which makes them the stingiest defense in the state. But the Eagles have literally cruised to a perfect record against five teams with five wins between them.
No Potomac preview should start without first mentioning junior Ronald Darby, an electrifying runner who combines 4.3 speed with uncanny power. The Wolverines' star running back (14 scholarship offers to date) ranks in the top 10 in Maryland with 719 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Potomac feeds Darby and his backups over 30 times a game, eschewing the pass in favor of a power-rushing attack. In fact, sophomore quarterback Aaron Williams, a savvy game manager who's steadily improving, has thrown just 32 passes all year (only 10 completions). But with a 'back like Darby and an improving offensive line -- Kendall Evans (6-3, 285), Julian Mullen, Aaron Coles, Alonzo Chambers and Gerald Waddell -- there's really no reason to pass the ball.
Defensively, Potomac is getting pressure up front from Mullen (four sacks), nose guard Aaron Coles and a big run stuffer, Tim Watts (5-11, 300). But the Wolverines' linebackers need to pick up their games. Joshua Thorne, a potential D-I prospect, is a monster with over 40 tackles and four forced fumbles and Alanzo Chambers is excelling, but the rest of the crew must be more consistent.
The secondary has been Potomac's strongest defensive unit. Dondre Echols leads the team with seven interceptions, and Jonathan Williams returned from injury in Week 4 and already has a pick. Darby, Adam Coles and Duane Short round out a group that hasn't allowed anyone to throw for more than 150 yards since Week 1. But Potomac's secondary won't help them in this game -- unless it's in run defense.
If it's possible, Douglass throws the ball even less than the Wolverines. The Eagles average about five throws per game with junior quarterback Taitor Reynolds. Last week, however, Reynolds busted out by throwing for 154 yards and a touchdown.
But most of Douglass' damage comes courtesy of a running game that piles up over 200 yards a night. The Eagles, however, don't have a feature 'back. They have six capable runners who all tote the rock at least three times per game. Josef Hinnant, Scotty Newman, Jamal Taylor, Emmanuel Smith and Reynolds had all eclipsed 100 yards by Week 4. Last week the Eagles ran roughshod over Largo for 176 yards and four scores in a 36-0 victory. The credit for that rushing attack goes to the big boys up front, headlined by seniors Mike Roberts, Keenan Phillips and Davon Duncan.
Douglass has already pitched three shutouts and has allowed just two offensive touchdowns all season. The line has several stout veterans, including Vincent Boykin, Sherman Hodges and Brian Burch and a key newcomer, Montez Lee. The linebackers boast experienced playmakers like Kevin Dorsey, Jahan Harris, Martin McCoy and Antonio Wilson. Meanwhile, defensive backs Milton Williams, a D-I recruit, Dion Williams, Harris, Hinnant (three kick returns for touchdowns) and Tavon Young (punt return for a touchdown) are all playmakers who have created multiple turnovers in every game so far.
It's hard to gauge how good Douglass really is, but based on their personnel alone this is one tough team. Potomac should put up a fight, although their youth may betray them in a game like this.
Prediction: Douglass 30, Potomac 22
Annapolis Area Christian (5-0) vs. Baltimore Lutheran (5-0)
Friday, October 8 @ 7 p.m.
Rarely does the MIAA C-Conference garner much attention, but this is as much of a must-see match as it gets. Annapolis Area Christian, the defending conference champs, come in riding a 12-game winning streak. They just knocked off one of their prime contenders, Pallotti (28-21), last week. But Baltimore Lutheran, a team that finished with just one conference win last year, is off to a 5-0 start and pining for an upset.
Lutheran won their first conference game last week, a 32-8 thumping of Friends. On the season they're averaging 33 points per game, although they have lapsed at times. For instance, it took a few games for the offensive line to jell, but they seem to be working in unison now. Guard Matt Brause anchors the group, along with Nick Barmoy, Adam Sczynski, Taylor King and an emerging force in sophomore Pat Curtis.
Quarterback Aaron Armes is a dual threat who's thrown six touchdowns and averaged five yards per rush. But he's had an up-and-down year with two great games, one average game and one dud. Armes' top target is Lutheran's best player, D I-AA recruit Jay Davis, who has over 200 yards and three touchdowns this year. Meanwhile, John Nunes (354 yards, five touchdowns) leads the rushing attack along with Armes.
The defense started the season on shaky ground, allowing 59 points in the first two weeks. But they've come on strong as of late. They gave up just a touchdown apiece to Harford Tech and Friends. Brause leads the team with over 30 tackles from his nose tackle position. Nunes, a linebacker, isn't far behind, and Scotty Sweigart has been a boon in his first year on varsity. Davis, of course, is the standout in the secondary. He's racked up over 30 tackles, a sack, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and two touchdowns. Josh Schildwachter has become a game-changer, while Armes and Dave Dooley have performed adequately at safety and corner, respectively.
But adequate won't be enough against AACS. The defending champs are once again dominating teams with a size-speed combination that's unrivaled in the conference. On the season they've outscored opponents 188-55.
Quarterback Chris Chick is a three-year starter who has had some accuracy problems but has delivered several game-changing passes. He's 30 for 58 for 373 yards and six touchdowns against just two interceptions so far this year. He spreads the ball around to an array of receivers, led by Chandler Edmonds and Jon Hunter. Complementing the passing game is running back James Anderson, a grinder who's approaching 600 yards on the season.
But the line is the driving force behind the offense. The front five -- with just one senior, Gary Painter -- was a question mark coming into the season, but the young guns are playing like upperclassmen. Galen Evans is the anchor at left tackle, Malik Dorsey has stepped forward as a sophomore, Kyle Davis is a leader at center and Travis Cole has improved in his second year.
Defensively, Evans has been a major force, filling the stat sheet with quarterback hurries, sacks and tackles for loss. Dorsey and James Anderson are steady performers up front, while Julian Caspario has been a pleasant surprise. In the secondary, Tony Paige, Malique Johnson, Jon Hunter and Ben Milburn have been reliable all year. AACS is hurting at linebacker, however. Regan Edmonds, Chandler's little brother, will miss this week with a knee injury. And Mike Stelfox is out for the year after an injury suffered in Week 3. In their places step Jamarie Spencer and Perez Mackell, two capable defenders who played well against Pallotti.
AACS has too many playmakers and too much depth for Lutheran to handle. The Baltimore squad is heading in the right direction, but they're not ready to challenge the D.C.-area boys yet.
Prediction: AACS 24, Baltimore Lutheran 10
City (4-1) vs. Patterson (4-1)
Friday, October 8 @ 3:45 p.m.
There's plenty at stake in this Baltimore City matchup. The winner still has a fighter's chance to win the City title, while the loser is all but assured to finish no higher than the middle of the pack. On top of that, both teams' playoff lives could be on the line, especially City's. There are six viable contenders for four spots in the 2A North, and City is currently teetering after a loss to Dunbar last week. But a win over a 4A team would thrust them right back into the fray. Meanwhile, Patterson is in good position in the 4A North, but a loss to City could open the doors for the likes of Westminster, Southwestern and Perry Hall, three teams below them in the standings.
City started the season red-hot, but their 4-0 record was deceiving - they did their damage against bottom feeders. Last week, however, City hung with a hot Dunbar team and barely lost, 14-6.
One area the Black Knights have to improve is the line, which was pushed around by Dunbar's defense. Lamar Montgomery is the anchor at center and Tre James seems to be adjusting at guard, but the rest of the group has to jell.
Quarterback Steffin Wilkins, a transfer from Calvert Hall, was held in-check last week, but when he's on he can change a game. Wilkins, the driving force behind an offense averaging 29 points per game, won't pass much, but he has the legs to run by any city defense. When teams key on Wilkins he hands off to Terrell Siller-Moor, a shifty back who has enough muscle to grind out yards up the middle. Meanwhile, receiver Daquan Smith is a terrific athlete and could pose problems for a defense out in space.
Defense has been City's strong suit. They've allowed 28 points all season and held Dunbar's power-rushing attack to just 14 points and 108 total yards. The key is their line led by D-I prospect James, who is a ferocious pass rusher. Defensive end Charles Tapper, is long, lean, quick and tough to block. Controlling the inside gaps are Montgomery and a 6-foot-6, 250-pound ex-basketball player Rashaad Rasheed.
City has a sophomore, Shane Phillips, starting at middle linebacker, but he's progressing well. On either side of him are two veterans, John Thomas and Carlton Anderson, both of whom can get after the quarterback. The secondary has three veterans, including Smith and cornerbacks Tyrke Richburg (Mount St. Joseph transfer) and Lee Cross.
Patterson lost their first game to Poly two weeks ago, but they showed their mettle last week with a tough win over Edmondson, 16-8. One problem they have to fix though is the turnovers. The Clippers gave the ball up five times against Edmondson, and the only reason they won was because the Red Storm handed the ball right back.
Much like City, Patterson relies on their quarterback to key the offense. Aaron Overton is one of the best athletes in the city, but he's also a leader who produces in crunch time (see: Dunbar game, Week 2). Overton has the arm to hit his favorite receiver, Peter Carter, and the legs to gash a defense out in space. Running back Deonta Winston is a true feature running back who averages over 100 yards per game on 20-plus carries. Slot receiver Anthony Green gives the Clippers even more speed, and tight end Marcus Woodard is a huge target.
Patterson's line lacks depth, but they have several maulers up front, including Bryan Egborhebe, Micah Bush, Donta Dewitt, Tarrell Suggs and Tyler Inniss
Patterson, like City, thrives off their defense. The Clippers' constant pressure can be overwhelming, a main reason they've held teams to just 13 points per game. Woodard, a 6-5 defensive end, leads the charge along with Carter and tackles Daquaen Powell (315 pounds) and Donte Williams. Outside linebackers < b>Anthony Green and Josh Beasley have racked up multiple sacks this year, while Egborhebe is a leader in the middle. Patterson doesn't see many passes in the city, but Winston, Sherman Smith and Cory Williams form a solid secondary.
Last week seemed to confirm that City probably wasn't as good as their 4-0 start suggested, although they're still fairly formidable. Patterson, however, is built to win now.
Prediction: Patterson 18, City 12