Sprinting to the finish in 2018
Football teams jockey for position as regular season reaches end
In the moments following his team’s 21-19 victory against Thomas Stone last Saturday, Westlake head football coach Tony Zaccarelli didn’t need to think about any scenarios his team would need to meet in order to earn a berth in the upcoming playoffs. As far as he was concerned, the playoffs started a long time ago.
“We have to be more focused going into next week. We played a playoff game today and have a playoff game next week,” he said. “I’ve been telling the guys that all year long. It’s a playoff game every week. Y’all lose, you go home. There are some things we need to clean up, penalties, finishing drives, but overall we’re right there where we need to be.”
Where the Wolverines will be tonight is Calvert, while they will battle the Cavaliers in what amounts to an elimination game as the programs vie for a spot in the Class 2A South Region playoff field.
Westlake (7-2 overall) enters the final week of the regular season sitting in the third spot in the region, and with a win could potentially move up to the No. 2 spot and host a firstround game.
Calvert (6-3) enters the final week outside of the top four, but a win against Westlake would most likely secure its spot in the postseason. Howard County programs Glenelg and River Hill have secured spots, with Glenelg the region’s top seed, while Howard County’s Oakland Mills and Wilde Lake remain in the mix. Regardless, only one of Calvert or Westlake will be part of the postseason dance.
“We’ve got a game next week that’s basically for all the marbles,” Calvert head coach Rick Sneade said in the aftermath of his team’s 43-0 loss to North Point last Friday. “It starts the playoffs next week. We win we play the next week. If we lose, we’re not. We’re playing a good football team next week, so we obviously have some work to do to get ready.”
Calvert lost two of three to open the season, but then had reeled off five straight wins in dominant fashion before running into North Point. Westlake, meanwhile, has won six in a row after dropping back-to-back decisions to North Point and St. Charles in Weeks 2 and 3.
The playoff implications are not quite so dramatic around the other fields in Southern Maryland as the 2018 SMAC season comes to a close. Only two Week 10 matchups — Westlake at Calvert and St. Charles at Huntingtown — are scheduled to play at 7 tonight at press time, as the rest of the slate was moved to Thursday to avoid playing on a potentially rainy night.
Lackey (6-3) was to host McDonough (2-7) on Thursday night. Lackey will be the No. 2 seed in the 1A South Region and will host Douglass of Prince George’s County — its opponent in last year’s regional final — in the first round. Fairmont Heights of Prince George’s will be the region’s top seed, while Largo of Prince George’s enters the final week in position to nail down the fourth and final spot barring a McDonough upset of Lackey
The 3A South playoff field is set, with Huntingtown (8-1), St. Charles (7-2), Potomac (6-3) and Northern (6-3) all in.
Huntingtown, the current top seed, is slated to host St. Charles, the second seed heading into the season’s final week, at 7 tonight. A win by Huntingtown, which is returning to the postseason for the first time since 2014, would seal the No. 1 seed for the Hurricanes.
A Spartans’ upset could vault the young program, which qualified for the postseason for the first time ever with this year’s berth, into the top spot, depending on if Potomac of Prince George’s County is able to pull its own upset against Eleanor Roosevelt, also of Prince George’s on Saturday.
Northern, which capped its regular season at Chopticon on Thursday, will be the No. 4 seed, with a first-round showdown with county rival Huntingtown a likely scenario. Last Friday, the Hurricanes shut out the Patriots, 14-0.
In the 4A East, North Point’s place among the top four is secure with the Eagles (9-0) likely the region’s No. 2 seed barring an Annapolis upset of top-seeded Anne Arundel County’s Broadneck (9-0).
Assuming North Point closed out an unbeaten regular season last night when it hosted Great Mills (3-6) and Broadneck wins its finale, the Eagles would host Arundel (8-1) in the first round of the playoffs.
Having enjoyed tremendous regular-season success throughout the program’s history, North Point finally got the regional monkey off its back last year when it claimed its first regional championship. With a team that looked a bit different on paper, and maybe even on the field, as the season opened, there were questions surrounding the Eagles. But as the season unfolded North Point delivered another unbeaten regular season in which the team was more dominant in each successive week.
“I said early in the year that they were a team in transition and they have been, I don’t think a lot of people had high expectations for them,” North Point head coach Tom Petre said after the team’s Week 9 win against Calvert. “In-house, the status quo was the status quo. We do what we do and the kids worked hard. I think they had a little chip on their shoul- der this year and something to prove. They’re looking to finish out next week and have a good senior week and finish the regular season strong and hopefully make some moves in the playoffs.”
SMR heading to WCAC playoffs
Despite suffering a 2724 setback to Paul VI (Va.) last weekend, the Knights are headed to the playoffs in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Metro Division and can secure a first-round home game with a victory over Archbishop Carroll of Washington, D.C., tonight. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
St. Mary’s Ryken (7-2 overall, 2-1 in the WCAC Metro) had opened the league division schedule with a 42-6 victory over O’Connell (Va.) (2-7, 1-3) and then a 61-0 trouncing of Ireton (Va.) (1-8, 0-3) before falling to Paul VI (7- 2, 3-0) in a game that will determine the top seed in the division playoffs.
St. Mary’s Ryken and Carroll (3-6, 2-1) will battle for sole possession of second place in the division this weekend with the winner hosting the other team in the opening round.
This fall, the WCAC football schedule was divided into two divisions, with perennial national powers St. John’s (D.C.), DeMatha of Prince George’s County, Good Counsel of Montgomery County and Gonzaga (D.C.), along with McNamara of Prince George’s County, comprising the Capital Division.
St. John’s will head into that playoff bracket as the top seed having already defeated DeMatha, Good Counsel and McNamara while preparing to face Gonzaga this weekend.