||HEADLINE NEWS - Features
Tuesday - 11/13/2001
By Tom Needham,
The time for rankings and speculation will soon be over. The playoffs are here in Maryland, and three familiar faces figure to make their presence known once again. Three of the four defending state champions have qualified for the postseason. The lone missing component is Calvert, which won the 3A title a season ago. Calvert finished an 8-1 campaign with a 42-0 shutout of Northern but just missed qualifying for the playoffs. Back, however, are Elkton, Urbana and Gaithersburg.
CAN THEY DO IT AGAIN?
Urbana has been the cream of 2A’s crop in recent years. Last season, the Hawks claimed their third straight 2A championship and extended their winning streak to 38 games. The streak is still alive, but these Hawks are doing it on a different stage.
Urbana moved up to 3A this season, but the results have been the same. The Hawks enter the playoffs this weekend with a 9-0 record and a 47-game winning streak. Ranked No. 4 in the National Prep Poll East Coast rankings, Urbana will square off with Gwynn Park (9-1), which also moved up from 2A to 3A. Ironically, it was these same Yellow Jackets of Gwynn Park that Urbana bounced 49-8 in last year’s 2A title game. Without doubt, revenge will be on Gwynn Park’s mind, but a spirited effort will be required to stop Urbana’s impressive streak. Gwynn Park is coming off an emotional 22-10 loss to Douglass. Urbana is coming off a 31-0 dismantling of Linganore.
In other 3A action this weekend, Seneca Valley (9-0) faces Westlake (9-1), Patuxent (10-0) squares off with Annapolis (8-2) and Randallstown (9-1) meets Richard Montgomery (9-0).
ELKTON BACK FOR MORE
The defending 1A champ, Elkton, is back on the scene in the small-school ranks. Elkton defeated Forestville 21-8 for the title last season and enters this weekend’s matchup with Rising Sun (8-2) with an 8-2 mark. Another team to watch in 1A is once-beaten Forest Park. It puts its 9-1 mark on the line against Oakland Mills (6-4) The two other 1A games pit Snow Hill (6-4) vs. Boonsboro (8-2) and Allegany (8-2) vs. Southern Garrett (6-4).
WHO’S THE TOP DOG IN 4A?
The returning champ is back in 4A, but most eyes seem to be on Eleanor Roosevelt. Roosevelt, unbeaten at 10-0, is ranked No. 3 in the National Prep Poll East Coast rankings and is coming off a 41-6 victory over High Point. The South Region champs have won 33 of their last 35 games and are shooting for No. 34 this weekend against Damascus (7-2).
The defending state champs, however, have a different storyline in mind. Gaithersburg captured the 4A title last season with a 24-21 victory over Sherwood and has a 7-2 record this season. Making its fifth straight 4A playoff appearance, Gaithersburg meets Broadneck (6-1).
In other 4A action, Meade (9-1) faces Old Mill (8-2) while Patterson (9-1) meets Bowie (8-2).
A NEW KING TO BE CROWNED IN 2A
With Urbana exiting the 2A ranks, the field is open for a new champion to be crowned. Five of the eight teams competing in the 2A bracket have yet to lose this season and the other three each have a single defeat.
Opening-round games include: Hereford (10-0) vs. Eastern Tech (9-1), Potomac (9-1) vs. Baltimore City College (9-1), Joppatowne (10-0) vs. Wicomico (10-0) and Glenelg (10-0) vs. Middletown (10-0).
AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR
After 32 teams collide in four brackets, there will be only four left standing to call themselves champions. Of the 32 teams in this year’s playoffs, 10 are undefeated. Ten more have only one loss. Three teams – 1A’s Oakland Mills, Snow Hill and Southern Garrett – qualified with 6-4 records.