High School

4 unexpected teams who could challenge for the Maryland 4A crown

4 unexpected teams who could challenge for the Maryland 4A crown

The Maryland state playoffs have expanded. Instead of 16, now 32 teams will compete for a championship in each of the four classifications. 

Of the 32 teams in 4A, most agree only two are legitimate title contenders: Quince Orchard and Wise.

The Pumas and Cougars have dominated Maryland 4A football for the better part of the last decade. Wise won the state championship in three consecutive years from 2015-2017, twice defeating Quince Orchard in the title game. QO got their revenge last season, eliminating the Pumas in the state semi’s en route to capturing the 2018 crown.

Neither has disappointed in 2019. Sporting matching 9-0 records and top 10 rankings, the Cougars and Pumas are each one-seeds and heavy favorites to hoist the trophy come December.

Here are four teams who could stand in their way:

South River Seahawks (12.44)

South River is the overall one seed in 4A having accumulated a total of 12.44 points. Rebounding from a 7-5 campaign in 2018, South River steamrolled their opposition on the path to a 9-0 record in 2019. 

The Seahawks scored 30 or more in every game this season and only two of their victories were one-possession games. They defeated Arundel 30-22 and came from behind to knock off Broadneck 48-41. 

The East bracket does not look to present much resistance as the Seahawks already defeated each of their potential  playoff opponents during the regular season. With a potent offense and relatively easy path to the Quarterfinals, South River may have what it takes to make a run at states.

Northwest Jaguars (10.22)

The North West Jags are an enticing team. At 8-1, they have enough talent to compete with anyone — including QO and Wise. 

The Jags are stacked at the skilled positions. Isiah Williams is a playmaker on both sides of the ball. At 6’3, 210, WR Kaden Prather is arguably the most dangerous weapon in the DMV. He has offers from Alabama, University of Maryland and Penn State. Ryan Beach operates out of the slot and is a first down waiting to happen. Quarterback Jordan Morse is fearless in the face of competition.

In week 8, Northwest went toe-to-toe with Quince Orchard. Though Northwest lost 17-7, they held their own for much of the game, including holding the Cougars scoreless in the first half. 

Had it not been for a Jags’ first-quarter fumble inside QO’s 5-yard line, the complexion of the entire game may have changed. 

Watch out for Northwest.

Paint Branch Panthers (10.22)

At 8-1, the Panthers pose a significant threat.

With a fast and athletic defense, Paint Branch has held 7 of 9 opponents to single digits. Their only loss came at the hands of a tough Northwest team early in the season. Since then, they have reeled off seven straight victories. 

In round one they play (5-4) Dulaney and anticipate a second-round match-up with Sherwood, a team they recently defeated 28-17.

The Panthers have the kind of length and athleticism on the outside to give QO and Wise fits. If Paint Branch can keep it close heading into the 4th quarter, they have enough firepower to upset either of the favorites.

Flowers Jaguars (8.89)

If the old adage “defense wins championships" proves to be accurate, Flowers is a contender for the crown.

The Jags gave up a total of 48 points in nine games played. They pitched five shut outs and allowed only two opponents to reach double figures. 

As great as their defense has played, at 7-2, Flowers has at times been an enigma. The season began with Head Coach Dameoun Powell being suspended for holding an illegal practice. The violation led to the Jags forfeiting their first game of the season — a would-be win over Oxon Hill. 

Two weeks later they inexplicably lost to (4-5) Laurel. The Jags defense did its job, holding the Spartans to six points, the Flowers offense though went scoreless.

Since that defeat, Flowers has won six in a row and ultimately found consistency. On any given night the Jags defense is capable of shutting down anyone, including the Pumas and Cougars.

Maryland 4A playoffs begin Friday, November 8th. The state championship will be played on December 6th at 7:30 p.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Top 20 DMV boys basketball: PVI, DeMatha lead rankings

USA TODAY Sports Images

Top 20 DMV boys basketball: PVI, DeMatha lead rankings

Week 2 began with a Virginia rivalry matchup between PVI and Bishop J. O'Connell. Behind Duke commit Jeremy Roach, PVI defeated O'Connell, in a sold-out playoff environment gym.

In other notable matchups, Good Counsel upsetting Gonzaga 59-56 - Bez Mbeng led Good Counsel with 14 points.  Antoine Jacks and Dylan Williamson both contributed 12 points. And Eleanor Roosevelt defeated South River 73-61, and in an out-of-county matchup. In an IAC vs MAC non-conference game between St. Andrews and Georgetown Prep, St. Andrew's took the 89-52 victory. Dylan Edwards led St. Andrews with 15 points. Here's this week's top 25:

1. PVI 

2. DeMatha 

3. Gonzaga 

4. Saint Stephen's Saint Agnes 

5. St. John's 

6. Rock Creek

7. Bullis  

8. Archbishop Carroll

9.  Coolidge

10. Good Counsel

11. Riverdale Baptist 

12.  Bishop McNamara 

13. Thurgood Marshall

14. St. Andrew’s

15. Bishop O’Connell 

16. Georgetown Prep

17. St. Mary's Ryken

18. Wise

19. Wilson 

20. Eleanor Roosevelt 


Click here for the Top 20 girls' rankings.

Damascus Defeats Linganore for MPSSAA 3A Championship

Chad Ricardo

Damascus Defeats Linganore for MPSSAA 3A Championship

With his young men huddled tightly around him in a now nearly vacant stadium, a visibly emotional Eric Wallich shook his head and placed his face in his hands. As the Swarmin’ Hornets head coach struggled to find words, many of his student-athletes echoed cries of encouragement, “We love you, coach”.

Wallich took a deep breath, pulled his winter hat down over his ears and meekly said, “I just love y’all man. Thank you,” At the sound of his words his team roared with applause, jumping to their feet to embrace their leader.

Damascus dominated Linganore by a final score of 38-0 Thursday night en route to capturing their fourth state championship in the last five years. For Damascus, this one was special.

 The Swarmin’ Hornets endured a tumultuous 2018: not only did they lose to Oakdale in the playoffs, their program also fought against allegations of wrongdoings. The victory Thursday night was about more than just winning the 3A state title, it was  a moment of redemption for Wallich and the entire DMass family,

If the Swarmin’ Hornets set out to send a message, they did so loud and clear. Clemson-commit Bryan Bresee capped off a first-quarter Damascus drive with a rushing touchdown. When Michael O’Neil connected with Isiah Bell in the 2nd for a 17-0 lead, the final outcome was all but decided.

 “After losing to Oakdale last year, we just had the urgency to come back,” said O’Neil.  “We had to rebound form our loss last year. Everyone worked great in the offseason and this was our goal all along, to come here, play tough and win”.

With seconds remaining before the half, O’Neil found Malek Sabri open in the flats for his second touchdown pass. He then opened the third quarter with a touchdown run, extending the DMass lead to 31-0.

“He’s been great all year,” said Wallich. “He’s a three-year starter for us. We haven’t traditionally been a throwing team, but he’s gotten better and better each week and he saved his best football for the end of the year”.

Damascus’ defense smothered Linganore. DMass forced multiple turnovers consistently setting their offense up on short fields, while the Lancers struggled to move the ball at all.

“Our defense has been lights out all year, and tonight was no exception,” said Wallich, “We were able to stop their running game, which they rely heavily upon so we thought they’d have to try some trick plays and I thought our defense did a great job as they have all year long. They’ve been a dominant defense, probably the best I’ve ever coached."

That defense was anchored by Bresee, who despite playing with a broken hand was a force to be reckoned with and consistent presence in the Linganore backfield,

“He’s the most dominant player I’ve ever seen and I’ve been coaching 20-something years," said Wallich. “He’s incredible and it was just amazing watching him every day in practice and now I can’t wait to watch what happens in his future. I’m just fortunate that I got to coach him."

Thursday night's results were a long time coming for Damascus. The hunger to erase the disappointment of 2018 had been omnipresent all season long but instead of allowing it to drag them down, Damascus used it to get back to the top,

“[It started] in the offseason workouts,” said Bresee.  “You could tell everyone was pushing each other. Everyone was holding each other accountable. The whole team was just a really tight-knit group and everybody had each others back and I think that's why we were so special”.