Panthers host Huskies as playoffs near
— Once again, the Perryville football team is in position to make the playoffs.
This time, the Panthers intend to cash in. Currently ranked fourth in the latest MPSSAA 1A East Region football point standings with four games to go, Perryville (3-3 overall, 1-1 Susquehanna) must capitalize down the stretch to nab one of the four playoff spots and avoid missing out on the postseason for a secondstraight year. That journey begins tonight with a home showdown against winless
Patterson Mill (0-5, 0-3).
“We’re really into a situation now where kids have to understand that every game counts. We need to start stacking wins,” Panthers head coach Chris Johnson said. “We have to make sure we take care of our business.”
Perryville will take the field one week after narrowly defeating one-win Joppatowne,
7-0. A lone touchdown reception in the first half by Christian Penrow marked the only score between the two programs. A win tonight will deliver the Panthers back-toback victories for the first time all season.
“I think Joppatowne is a good motivator. We did not play very well, we did not execute very well, especially on offense, so I think that was kind of a wakeup call,” Johnson pointed out. “You can’t just show up. You have to prepare properly and do the little things right in order to be at your best every Friday night.”
The Huskies are coming off a 35-14 loss to Bohemia Manor.
“They throw the ball a lot, so if we’re not covering the way we’re capable of covering, there’s opportunities for Patterson Mill to make big plays,” Johnson said. “They have a nice running back who is very quick and makes people miss, so our defense is going to have its hands full.
“Defensively, they are very aggressive.
— In less than two weeks, Will Smethurst will jam his faded Maryland Terrapins hat on his head of curly hair and take to the fairways at the state university’s championship golf course.
The Bohemia Manor senior finished with an 82 in his return to the par-72 Mountain Branch Golf Course on Wednesday, finishing one stroke ahead of the cut and qualifying for the 2A-1A Maryland State Tournament taking place Oct. 23-24 at UMD in College Park.
“It’s my first time qualifying. Last year, I missed it by three strokes. This year, to come around and have the round I did is just awesome,” Smethurst said. “Going up there, it’s just life changing. It’s awesome.”
Golfers returned to Joppa Wednesday to continue a round that began Sept. 25 but was suspended for heavy rain. Smethurst, the lone Cecil County athlete to make the cut, used a clutch moment with two holes remaining to help clinch his state tournament berth.
“On 16, I believe, I sank a putt from 25 feet for par. That’s the one par I needed to qualify and I could bogey out if I needed to. That really was the hole,” said Smethurst, who is the first Bo Manor golfer to qualify for College Park since nowgraduated Hunter Tollenger went three straight times from 2014-16.
“A 42 [on the back nine] wasn’t
I think one of their challenges is their overall team speed. We have to kind of do our best to take advantage of that and get our athletes in space to make plays.”
Following its contest against Patterson Mill, Perryville will travel to play Harford Tech, host North East and travel to play the rival Eagles—another region opponent who will enter the season finale likely playing for their playoff lives.
Last year, Bo Manor made the postseason and eliminated the Panthers by winning the Week 10 matchup between the two schools.
“First off, we need to finish. I think this year’s team is a little bit different. They have a different mindset. I think it’s going to come down to how much do they want it. How much does it matter to them to be in the playoffs,” Johnson said. “A couple of our games [this season] could have gone what I was hoping for, but with the break and all that, I’m not too upset about it.”
Smethurst birdied twice on the front nine, including finding the pin in two strokes on the par-3 ninth hole. He then fought through an inconsistent back nine, but closed out with three pars on his final four holes, including the long putt on the 16th hole, to finish with a plus10 on a challenging course.
“It was tough. Waiting a whole year and knowing I should have made it last year [after] shooting a 40 on the front and blowing up on the back, it really just killed me,” Smethurst said. “At least I made it this year.”
Perryville’s Matt O’Neill, the county’s only state qualifier from a year ago, missed a return trip to states by three strokes. The senior finished with an 85 to record the second-best score of local participants.
The reigning All-County Golfer of the Year had four double bogeys on the back nine and four bogeys in the final five holes of the front nine, but recorded an eagle and a birdie on holes No. 2 and 3, respectively, to highlight an up and down performance.
“You just had to think about it like two rounds of golf. You come in, you have some momentum going, you know what you’re doing, and then to stop that and come in on a completely new day, is pretty tough. You can’t blame it on the break, though, You’ve got to be able to adapt to everything,” the other way. The Largo and Rising Sun games really stand out to me as games we should have had. We can’t do anything about it now, but the good thing is we’re still the four seed, we still control our own destiny.
“It’s really just a bunch of one-game seasons,” he added. “Every week is a playoff week for us. That’s the way we have to approach it, with that type of energy. If we don’t, we may be on the outside looking in again.” said O’Neill, who played four-and-a-half holes Wednesday to complete his round. “It was a challenge. I came up a little short today, unfortunately.”
O’Neill paced a Perryville squad that finished sixth in the 2A-1A team standings with 436 points. North East took fifth (417), while Harford Tech (416), North Harford (377) and Fallston (343) finished fourth
Perryville quarterback Tyler Nasuta scrambles down field while teammate Christian Penrow lays the block during a game earlier this season. The Panthers will host Patterson Mill tonight in their pursuit of a postseason berth.
Bohemia Manor senior Will Smethurst, right, watches as official scores are made public following the conclusion of the District VII Golf Tournament Wednesday at Mountain Branch Golf Course in Joppa. With a 10-over par 82, Smethurst is the only Cecil County golfer who qualified for this month’s state meet.