Top-seeded Ea­gles ready to make deep play­off run

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By SEAN GRO­GAN

sgro­gan@ce­cil­whig.com

While a play­off berth has be­come an an­nual tra­di­tion for the Bo­hemia Manor foot­ball team, the Ea­gles are the top seed in the 1A East Re­gion for the first time since 2010.

Bo Manor closed out its reg­u­lar sea­son by win­ning five of its final six games.

“Just stay­ing the course, do­ing what we do best — try­ing to es­tab­lish the run and play-ac­tion pass off that,” Ea­gles first-year coach Joe Graf said of the clos­ing weeks. “The kids stayed to­gether and they played through all the ad­ver­sity that’s been thrown our way. They con­tinue to want to learn and want to play.”

Bo Manor (7-3) hosts fourth­seeded Kent County (5-5) at 7 p.m. tonight. The two teams did not meet in the reg­u­lar sea­son, but they faced a com­mon op­po­nent.

Both squads de­feated Stephen De­catur. The Ea­gles won, 2013, in the first game of the year and Kent County won the same matchup, 39-20, on Oct. 7.

Graf feels the Tro­jans’ ath­letic quar­ter­back poses a threat, but ex­pressed con­fi­dence in his team’s abil­ity to han­dle its own in the trenches.

“They’re a solid team. Their quar­ter­back, who I think of as more of a run­ning back, Mar­c­quan Greene, is very good. He re­minds me a lot of [Elk­ton run­ning back] Ray Estep, just a lit­tle big­ger,” he said. “They’ve got good team speed, but up front, they’re not any big­ger than we are.”

Bo Manor closed the reg­u­lar sea­son with a 19-14 come-frombe­hind vic­tory over Jop­pa­towne. Graf sub­sti­tuted Johnny Knight from wide re­ceiver to quar­ter­back to lead the game-win­ning drive. Knight scored on a 1-yard run with 17 sec­onds to play to seal the win.

Knight be­gan the sea­son as the Ea­gles’ starter un­der cen­ter, but has since moved out­side to cap­i­tal­ize on his play-mak­ing abil­ity. Graf said he could play both po­si­tions Fri­day.

“We’re by com­mit­tee,” Graf said of the quar­ter­back po­si­tion. “There’s def­i­nitely cer­tain pack­ages where [Knight] is in at quar­ter­back, but our plan is that we want the ball in his hands in var­i­ous dif­fer­ent ways.”

Bo Manor is ap­pear­ing in the state play­offs for a fifth-straight year.. Graf was the of­fen­sive coor- di­na­tor for sev­eral of those trips. He also quar­ter­backed the 2002 Ea­gles team that cap­tured the state cham­pi­onship.

“That is the goal ev­ery year. This team wants to play past the 10 weeks,” Graf said. “The play­ers al­ways have the chip on their shoul­der that no­body be­lieves in us, we’re too small to com­pete. It’s just an at­ti­tude that we want to prove peo­ple wrong. Bo Manor is a foot­ball school and peo­ple have to re­spect us in the area and in the state.”

Fol­low Sean Gro­gan on Twit­ter: @Sean_Ce­cilWhig

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Johnny Knight, left, Ji­aire Caldwell, right, and the Bo­hemia Manor foot­ball team will open the 1A East Re­gion play­offs as the top seed. It will host Kent County tonight in the re­gion semi­fi­nals.

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