Maryland State Playoffs Quarterfinals-
Bayside Conference Picks:
And then there were just three. Stephen Decatur, Kent Island and Cambridge-SD won out in their respective regions and are in the Quarterfinals. For Decatur and Kent Island it’s the third straight year in the quarters, it’s the first for Cambridge since 2019. Decatur is hosting their first Quarterfinal since 2004. Now we can root for all the Bayside teams as they have all non-Bayside matchups with the re-seeding that came after Round 2. Wishing the Seahawks, Bucs and Vikings all wins!
*Some info courtesy of Bill Haufe and The Star-Democrat, The Baltimore Sun and Baltimoresportsandlife.com
Our Overtime Live ‘Game of the Week’ presented by ‘Preston Ford’ can be heard on 94.3 WINX-FM on the Mid-Shore, on the WINX-FM App and streaming at forevermidshore.com…’The U.S. Heating & Air Pre-Game Show’ is at 6:10pm with a kickoff at 6:30pm…The Friday Night Lights Game of the Week is:
#4 Kent Island (9-2) hosting #5 Huntingtown (8-2)-6:30pm-These two teams played last season in the Quarterfinals in Stevensville and the Bucs came away with a big win 34-11. In that game, as it was for most of the season it was the ‘Kasey Heath Show’. Heath carried the ball 39 times for 316 yards and three touchdowns. As Bill Haufe reported in the Star Dem last year: “Kent Island’s ground game consumed long stretches of clock throughout the game, including a 15-play drive that drained almost 7 minutes in the second quarter — ending with Heath’s 3-yard touchdown run for a 17-3 halftime bulge. The Bucs also pieced together a 10-play march that swallowed over 6 minutes of clock over the third and fourth quarters and was capped by Max Barba’s 25-yard field goal for a 27-3 cushion.”
Huntingtown got off to a rough start in that game and was plagued by bad snaps on offense. They looked out of sync in general. Defensively they had no answer for Health even with heavy boxes. Late in the game they went no huddle on offense and really got their passing game going, they also had a 75-yard run at one point as well. But at that point it was too late. You better believe those players from last season’s team for Huntingtown remember and will make a point of emphasis not to let that happen again. Huntingtown’s QB Evan Kuntz returns from that team, and he can run and throw. He is their second leading rusher and has thrown 23 TDs this season. They do run about twice as much as they pass out of the spread. The Hurricanes have some good size in the trenches although I am told that is more on the offensive end than defensive end. Their only signature win was Northern-Calvert. That said the SMAC is supposed to be strong this year with Patuxent and Calvert (not Northern Calvert) ranked in the Top 25 in the state. At one point Northern was ranked as well. For Kent Island, Kasey Heath graduated with Shane Bogardus, now the main running back for the Bucs. He has been solid this season and has filled the shoes of Heath well.
(Although there is only one Kasey Heath and Evan Greenwood for that matter) The Bucs also have other depth they can go to with Holland, Green, and Claxton.
If I were Kent Island, I would expect Huntingtown to come out laser focused and making sure they do not get off to a slow start. You also cannot expect another 300-yard performance from one player either for Kent Island. I would think Huntingtown will make sure they do not let that happen again either, at least from one player. My gut says Huntingtown may come out and try to go no-huddle and throw early before settling in to running the ball consistently. Containing Kuntz will be important and obviously they do want to run the ball so limiting first down runs will be important. For Kent Island they will run and look to play great defense. In the playoffs, the further you get you usually get to the point where you must make a few plays in the air. Gavan Henry will need to make some of the throws he made early in the year. Kent Island is always tough at home and this program has a lot of overall playoff experience. This kind of game is nothing new Yes, the Seniors who started this season did not start last year but they played some and have plenty of experience under their belt by now this season. Also, the winning culture at Kent Island has been long established. This kind of game is nothing new nor are the expectations. I will lean Bucs here, but I do not expect a 34-11 game. It will be important for the Bucs to get off to a fast start because I expect the Hurricanes will be ready to bring it early something they did not do last season.
(Number is Playoff Seeding):
#2 Stephen Decatur (11-0) hosting #7 Wilde Lake (6-5)-6:30pm-At least from my records and research this is the first time these two programs are playing each other in the regular season or playoffs. Wilde Lake has a proud football tradition. Wilde Lake won 20 Howard County Championships in 36 years and 5 State Championships under Hall of Fame Coach Doug DuVall who retired after the 2008 season. That was all a long time ago but those are numbers that you don’t forget. For this season, granted half of the Wildcats wins came against winless teams but don’t let that fool you. They had some good wins and lost some tight games to some good opponents. They could be an eight- or nine-win team coming into this one. Wilde Lake is coming off a big win over Glenelg producing the second most points in a game in their 11 games this season. The Wildcats are in the final eight for just the second time since winning their sixth and last state title in 2010. Many of the Wildcats best players go both ways and it appears they brought back about 10 starters this season. The juniors now have 11 games under their belt, so they aren’t inexperienced anymore. Wilde Lake plays an aggressive 3-3-5 defense with LB/DE Chris Martin a big force in rushing the QB. Speaking of their QB they return Gio Butler and WR Ethan Jackson from last season. They also have a bruising RB in Hakim Antoine. They run a spread offense, and they remind me of Decatur to an extent with the way they look.
Last week they were fairly balanced but the yards leaned pass. Between the scheme and their size on defense Wilde Lake may pose the toughest challenge for the Decatur offense this season. The Seahawks were tested early on against Queen Anne’s last week for the first quarter thanks in part to two unlikely interceptions from QB Brycen Coleman. As much as they have run away with games this year some adversity early on in a game may be a benefit in case, they get down early in this one or any future playoff games. Coleman’s scrambling ability, the speed the Hawks have on offense and their usual getting the ball out quick will be a benefit and should help against the pressure. SD has also had success on the ground in the last several weeks getting almost as many TDs that way as in the air. The defense has been tough all year and should hold up against the pass. They will need to dig in against the run game though. This one should be competitive, but I will give the Seahawks the win in this one in one of the closer games they have played this season but not too close.
Bonus: Here was The Baltimore Sun’s Wilde Lake Preview prior to the start of the season---
Coach: Brian Henderson, fifth season
Last season: 5-6
Top returners: Seniors Chris Martin (LB/DE), Ethan Jackson (WR), Hakim Antoine (RB), Bennett Hoviath (K), Derek Fermaint-Ayala (DB), Kendall Demery (DL), Maejon Dudley (OL), Gio Butler (QB) Jacob Grimes (TE/LB/DB), Aiden Guyton (RB/SS); juniors Da’Shawn Powell (ATH), Lewis Robertson (LB), Afton Davis (DB) and Kwadwo Boampong (LB).
On the field: Martin is a force off the edge for the Wildecats, named first team All-County as a junior with a county-leading 13 1/2 sacks. Offensively, Butler is back under center for a second straight season, while Jackson provides an explosive weapon who can be used all over the field. He finished with 39 receptions for 575 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Antoine brings further experience in the backfield as a powerful runner.
Coach’s outlook: “We have a team full of great student-athletes that are ready to compete week after week. Some of our guys have patiently waited for the opportunity to make an impact and we are excited for this opportunity to watch them shine.”
#4 Cambridge-SD (8-2) hosting #5 SEED School-Baltimore City (5-4)-6:30pm-This is one of those out of those matchups outside of the Bayside that can make it a lot more challenging and that is the case here. SEED is in it’s 6th of football but it appears not consecutively. SEED played some good competition this season in Hereford, Winters Mill, and the Severn School. SEED is a battle tested team although those games came earlier in the year. They went 0-3 in those games. This Vikings is one of the better teams in the Bayside and has two wins over 2A programs. They have also scored over 200 points more than SEED this season and given up 47 less points. At this point in the playoffs, you don’t take anyone lightly, especially someone you really don’t know well and one that is from the Western Shore. However, Baltimore City football is not very strong compared to the rest of the metro area. I think assuming Cambridge continues to play the way they are capable should come away with the win.
Last Week’s Playoff Picks: 3-0
2023 Playoff Picks: 8-2
2023 Regular Season Picks: 56-10