By Adam C. Warner
Champions will be crowned this weekend in Maryland and New Jersey as the football season finally comes to its pinnacle. In Maryland, Linganore and Sherwood meet in a battle of unbeatens, while in New Jersey, two of the region's most storied programs meet on the gridiron when Don Bosco battles Bergen Catholic. SportsPower editor Adam C. Warner breaks down all of the championship action.
Westlake Wolverines (11-2) vs. Wilde Lake Wildecats (12-1), Dec. 4: Westlake stormed through the regular season and are now playing its best football of the year after quality wins over Friendly and 12-time state champ Seneca Valley. Expect Westlake to hand the ball off early and often to Devon Smith. If Wilde Lake can contain him, expect them to be victorious. Wilde Lake will counter with running back Jarrel Epps and quarterback Danny March, two standouts that can take over a game at any given moment.
Linganore Lancers (13-0) vs. Sherwood Warriors (13-0), Dec. 5: Sherwood can notch its third state title this weekend if they can get past a surging Linganore team. The Warriors are coming off two impressive wins, first a 31-10 victory against Quince Orchard on Nov. 21 and then a 45-8 defeat of Wise in the semifinals. However, Linganore could be Sherwood’s toughest opponent all season. The Lancers trounced Arundel last week, 59-34, behind a potent offense that racked up five rushing touchdowns. Running back Pat Balderson is the featured back for Linganore and can put up 200-300 yards on any given day.
Class 1 A
Fort Hill Sentinels (11-1) vs. Dunbar Poets (12-1), Dec. 6: It’s a showdown between one hot team and another seasoned squad in the Class 1A title game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Dunbar is looking for its third straight title after crushing Catoctin, 48-12, last week. Running back Tavon Austin is a playmaker. Last week, the standout rushed for 213 yards and scored four touchdowns. Expect to hear Austin’s name be called plenty of times on Saturday. Meanwhile, Fort Hill has pulled out several close games already this year and that could bode well for them in this pinnacle contest. The Sentinels beat Frederick Douglass, Mountain Ridge and Allegany this season by a combined nine points.
Eastern Tech Mavericks (14-0) vs. River Hill Hawks (13-0), Dec. 6: Both of these teams are evenly matched, so expect a sensational title game on Saturday. The Mavs will try to establish their running attack behind Luke Horner. The unit accounted for 201 yards on the ground last week in a 28-6 win over previously unbeaten Queen Anne’s. Meanwhile, River Hill is flying high after crushing Century, 48-14, in last week’s semifinal. The Hawks will go for back-to-back state titles in Baltimore this weekend. The Hawks have one of the state’s premier rushing attacks, as evidenced last week when Michael Campanaro and Malek Redd combined for 430 yards and five scores. If the duo can be even half as effective as they were last week, River Hill may have the advantage. Expect a hard-played game that comes down to defense in the second half.
Non-Public, Group IV
Bergen Catholic Crusaders (9-2) vs. Don Bosco Prep Ironmen (10-1), Dec. 6: Both of these teams are very familiar with each other as they squared off on Nov. 1. The matchup witnessed the Ironmen come away with a decisive 38-7 victory, but will Bergen Catholic be able to take it to another level at Giants Stadium on Saturday? Tailback Dillon Romain is the sparkplug for the Ironmen and will need to be effective on the ground for the Ironmen to come away victorious. Wideout Ryan Cobb and quarterback Brett Knief have also been standouts and will be called on often. Meanwhile, Bergen Catholic’s rush defense will need to be at its best. Last week, the Crusaders allowed nearly 300 yards on the ground and five different players score touchdowns. Offensively, signal-caller Rob Eckrote and wideout Anthony Marino need to hook up often for the Crusaders.
Non-Public, Group III
St. Joseph Montvale Green Knights (10-1) vs. Immaculata Spartans (10-0), Dec. 5: Expect the Green Knights to pound the ball early and often in their quest of capturing the Non-Public, Group III championship. St. Joseph features a dynamic lineup, which includes Kevin Adams, Kamal Hogan, Kwaun Williams and David Wood. Meanwhile, as the second seed, Immaculata enters the title game on the heels of two close wins over Holy Spirit (21-20) and Gloucester Catholic (14-7). Watch for running back Theo Riddick to receive plenty of carries while quarterback Adam Burke needs to be a passing threat in order for Immaculata to win the title.
To contact editor Adam C. Warner, send an e-mail to email@example.com.