Four MPSSAA Playoff Games to Watch: State Semifinals

Let's be clear- all eight games this weekend should be excellent contests as Maryland's best compete to get to Navy. Here are four of those games, all of which should be exciting contests.

4A:No. 3 Quince Orchard (9-1, 11.30) at No. 2 North Point (10-0, 11.50)

Quince Orchard looks to qualify for its second straight state final appearance when it travels to Charles County to face North Point.

Quince Orchard shut out Einstein 62-0, then beat Northwest 31-20 to claim the 4A West championship. Quarterback Doc Bonner was excellent against Northwest, throwing for 138 yards and rushing for 85. He threw a touchdown pass to Marquez Cooper, and also recorded two rushing scores. Cooper was a key playmaker as well, running for 53 yards and adding a rushing score, while also making three catches. It is the Cougars second straight regional title, as well as the program's twelfth consecutive appearance in the state playoffs. Quince Orchard's last state title came in 2007.

This is North Point's first ever appearance in the state semifinal round. In fact, the Eagles had only ever won one playoff game before this postseason, despite qualifying seven times. In 2017, North Point beat Arundel 20-19 in the first round, then got past previously unbeaten Broadneck 38-22, using a strong second half surge in which the group scored 28 straight points to pull away. The Eagles' defense forced multiple turnovers during that run, and quarterback Jermichael Jone, who has thrown and rushed for over 1,00 yards this season, ran for two scores during the third quarter. Jaden Mack returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown, while Malik Lawrence finished with 74 yards receiving, and a touchdown.

Kickoff for this contest is scheduled for 7 PM on Friday.

3A:No. 4 Long Reach (6-3, 6.04) at No. 1 Milford Mill (9-1, 10.80)

A chance for both schools to make history will be on the line when Milford Mill hosts Long Reach.

Milford Mill has not been in the state championship since the program's lone state title triumph in 1987. The Millers have only made one other state championship appearance back in 1983. Milford Mill has gotten to this point by getting past C. Milton Wright and Edgewood by a combined score of 79-28. Running back Desmond Shell put in a massive performance against Edgewood. He opened the scoring in the game with a 56-yard punt return, then later sealed the win with a 68-yard touchdown run. Shell had multiple long returns, which helped set up Troy Scott for a three rushing touchdown effort. The Millers' defense was also exception, shutting out Edgewood in the second half.

This is Long Reach's first ever trip to the state semifinal round. The Lightning have gotten here by beating Chesapeake-AA 27-24, then shutting out Atholton 37-0 to win the 3A East championship. Against Atholton, Long Reach got a great performance on offense from quarterback Tyler Moore, who threw for three touchdowns. KaDarrian Booker also rushed for 177 yards and a score, but the group's defense was the real difference maker. Long Reach forced five punts, four turnovers on downs and an interception.

Kickoff for this contest is scheduled for 1 PM on Saturday.

2A:No. 3 Gwynn Park (8-1, 9.50) at No. 2 Harford Tech (10-0, 9.70)

Much like the 3A match-up, Gwynn Park and Harford Tech features two teams that combined have made two state championship appearances.

Gwynn Park accounts for both state title game appearances. The Yellow Jackets last made the state final in 2005, which is also the program's lone state championship. Gwynn Park has gotten here on the strength of its extremely stingy defense- the group beat Edmondson-Westside 8-2 in the first round, then topped Hereford 43-0 to win the 2A North crown. The Yellow Jackets' defense has allowed 8.36 points per game this season, and the win over Hereford was the unit's fourth shutout.

Harford Tech is in the midst of its program's first ever playoff appearance. The Cobras topped Elkton 35-0 in the first round, then engineered a 12-point comeback to beat Kent Island 22-21 for the 2A East championship. The late surge began with just under seven minutes left in the game when quarterback Ryan Hunt connected with Laday Hunt on a tipped ball for a touchdown. A few minutes later, Hunt found Jordan Bright to give Harford Tech the lead for good. Running backs Kyle Cicone and Jalen Dangerfield also had bright games for Harford Tech.

Kickoff for this contest is scheduled for 7 PM on Saturday.

1A:No. 3 Havre de Grace (9-1, 9.40) at No. 2 Dunbar (8-1, 9.58)

Two programs with a plethora of history square off with a spot in the 1A state championship on the line.

Havre de Grace is used to being in this position- the Warriors have reached the 1A state championship the past two seasons. This season, Havre de Grace topped Col. Richardson 56-6 in the first round of the playoffs before claiming the 1A East title by beating Bohemia Manor 48-14. A large chunk of this year's group played last season for the Warriors, headlined by linebacker Sean Greeley and defensive tackle Reggie Marks. Wide receiver Jordan Day has had an excellent career, while center Jared Graybeal has anchored a very successful offensive line. Kicker Clay Harris is one of the best in the state, and is a big weapon on special teams.

Dunbar is in search of its 10 state title, with its last coming in 2012. This will be the Poets nineteenth appearance in the state semifinal round, and the program's 54 career wins in the postseason is the most in Maryland. The group is yet to be tested in the postseason so far, beating both Chesapeake-BC and Reginald F. Lewis by the final score of 48-0. In the 1A North championship against Lewis, Dunbar got great performances from a lot of places, but Alfonzo Graham stood out in particular. Graham scored two rushing touchdowns, and also picked off three passses, two of which he returned for scores. Quarterback Jared Lewis was also sensational, passing for a touchdown and rushing for one as well.

Kickoff for this contest is scheduled for 1 PM this Saturday.
November 21st, 2017By: Wick Eisenberg

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