Football playoffs in Montgomery
Here's a breakdown of this week's football playoff games involving Montgomery County teams:
Maryland 4A West Region
No. 4 Springbrook (7-3) at No. 1 Sherwood (8-2)
Friday, 7 p.m.
Playoff history: Sherwood is the defending Maryland 4A champion, and it in its sixth consecutive postseason, having advanced to three of the past four finals. Springbrook last made the playoffs in 2003, and before that, 1994.
Best victory this season: Needing a victory to get into the playoffs, Springbrook posted a very impressive 20-0 victory over Paint Branch, the region’s third seed, in the final week of the season. Sherwood beat Springbrook, 33-13, two weeks ago, when quarterback A.J. Pignone had his best game of the season (13 of 19, 212 yards, three touchdowns).
X-factor: Which standout running back will break loose? Springbrook’s Devon Pestano (1,131 yards and 20 TDs) managed just 46 yards by Sherwood two weeks ago. Meantime, Sherwood’s Cyrus Britt (1,104 yards, 13 TDs) also didn’t fare too well against Springbrook, rushing for just 50 yards, but the Warriors used that game to highlight Pignone.
No. 3 Paint Branch (8-2) at No. 2 Whitman (8-2)
Friday, 7 p.m.
Playoff history: Paint Branch last made the postseason in 2000, and hasn’t won a playoff game since the 1975 Class B final. Whitman’s first-round playoff losses in 2003 and ’07 were the Vikings’ first postseason appearances since 1988.
Best victory this season: After a couple of middling performances, Paint Branch beat Clarksburg, 14-6, on Oct. 23, which asserted the Panthers as a playoff-caliber team. Whitman, meantime, enters the playoffs coming off two huge wins – 16-13 over Seneca Valley, and 28-24 over Churchill to get the Vikings into the postseason and knock out its arch-rival.
X-factor: Whitman needs to control the clock behind the running of Kevin Cecala (63 carries, 229 yards combined the past two weeks) and keep the ball from Paint Branch playmakers. If the Panthers, though, can get the ball in the hands of Ivan Tagoe and Torian Henderson, then they can put up points in a hurry.
Maryland 3A West Region
No. 4 Tuscarora (7-3) at No. 1 Quince Orchard (10-0)
Friday, 7 p.m.
Playoff history: Tuscarora, which opened in 2003, lost its first playoff game last year. This is Quince Orchard’s sixth straight postseason appearance. The Cougars won the 2007 Maryland 4A title.
Best victory this season: After consecutive losses, the Titans were on the outside of the region’s playoff picture coming into an Oct. 30 game at Urbana. A 27-24 come-from-behind victory, though, over the Hawks vaulted Tuscarora back into contention. Quince Orchard’s season took a dramatic turn for the better when the Cougars erased a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit and beat Clarksburg, 35-28, in overtime.
X-factor: Tuscarora quarterback Josh Marshall is a threat with his arm (1,028 yards passing) or legs (523 yards rushing), and Quince Orchard showed its vulnerability to a running quarterback when Clarksburg’s Andrew Veith ran for 198 yards against the Cougars. Look for Cougars middle linebacker Danny Tonelson to keep an eye on Marshall, and that matchup should determine whether the Titans can keep up with Quince Orchard.
No. 3 Damascus (8-2) at No. 2 Linganore (10-0)
Friday, 7 p.m.
Playoff history: Damascus has reached the playoffs a Maryland-record 12 straight seasons, winning titles in 2003, ’05 and ’07 in that span. Linganore was the 4A runner-up last year, and won the 3A title, its fourth overall, in 2003.
Best victory this season: After splitting its first four games, Damascus looked vulnerable. The Hornets have eliminated that by winning six straight, none bigger than a 26-22 decision at Sherwood on Oct. 16. Linganore has won its 10 games by an average of 35 points, and hasn’t allowed a first-half touchdown since Sept. 17, when the Lancers trailed Walkersville, 8-6, at the break. Linganore rallied to pull away for a 43-21 victory, perhaps the only time this season the Lancers felt threatened.
X-factor: If Damascus can demonstrate a viable passing attack, it could dilute Linganore’s defensive front, which would mean more running room for running back Brian Lucas. Linganore needs to learn from last year’s loss to Sherwood in the 4A final, when the much bigger Lancers were out-schemed by a smaller Sherwood unit on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Maryland 2A West Region
No. 4 Middletown (6-4) at No. 1 Rockville (8-1)
Friday, 7 p.m.
Playoff history: Middletown has lost in the 2A West final three of the past four seasons and reached the 2A semifinals in 2006. Rockville last reached the playoffs in 2007, its only other appearance besides 1997; both times the Rams lost their first game.
Best victory this season: Middletown’s 42-26 victory over Walkersville last week was like a playoff game for the Knights; the winner got into the postseason and the loser’s season ended. Middletown spotted Walkersville a 14-6 halftime lead before scoring 22 straight in the third quarter to take control. When Rockville beat Richard Montgomery, 35-0, on Oct. 2, the Rams saw Crusoe Gongbay rush for 235 yards and four touchdowns and prove he was recovered from an early-season ankle injury. Starting with that game, the junior has rushed for 1,148 yards and 16 touchdowns in the final five weeks.
X-factor: It won’t be in a uniform, but on each team’s schedule. Rockville has not played an opponent with a record better than 4-6, none of which made the postseason. Middletown, meantime, has played seven opponents with winning records, six of which are in the playoffs. Even though Middletown is 2-4 in those games, the Knights have certainly faced a better test thus far.
November 10, 2009; 12:18 PM ET
Categories: Damascus , Frederick County , Linganore , Middletown , Montgomery County , Paint Branch , Quince Orchard , Rockville , Sherwood , Springbrook , Tuscarora , Whitman
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