Regionals see an old and a new face
Bulldogs, Clippers survive into second playoff round
After its toughest fight of the season to date, North Caroline High’s unbeaten football team has returned to familiar territory: the second round of the playoffs.
For the third time in four seasons, the Bulldogs are in the Class 2A East Region final, and once more, they’ll be facing Elkton.
Three years ago, the Bulldogs defeated Elkton by three scores, taking the 2A East title en route to the program’s first state tournament appearance.
The following November, the Golden Elks avenged that defeat with a 33-20 victory, again in the 2A East title game.
A potential third meeting never materialized last year, as Elkton lost in the semifinals to Harford Tech, while the Bulldogs fell in overtime to a Kent Island team it had beaten just a fortnight before.
It’s on for 2018, however.
North Caroline (11-0) outlasted Parkside on Saturday night, while the Elks held on for a one-score win. Friday night’s 2A East title game should be one for the ages, as each team basically had to beat the best opponent they’ve seen all year to advance.
A 20-0 loser at home against the Bulldogs in Week 2, Parkside traded touchdowns Saturday until top-seeded North Caroline turned two Ram turnovers into 14 points late in the second quarter as part of a 41-27.
The 27 points scored by the Rams (8-3) accounts for almost a third of what the Bulldogs allowed all year, and is nearly three times what Caroline’s first-team defense allowed (10) in 10 weeks of regular-season play.
Elkton played a much lower-scoring game against Tech, but prevailed, 21-14, to dethrone the defending regional champs.
In the Class 3A East semifinals, a new face has made an appearance after a long postseason hiatus: James M. Bennett.
Until Friday, no Bayside Conference team had won a Class 3A playoff. What’s more, Bennett hadn’t advanced in the postseason since 1990, according to head coach Glenn Gibson.
The Clippers, loaded with weapons on offense, defense, and special teams, opened a 14-0 first-quarter lead and never looked back, defeating Long Reach, 4114. Now, Bennett moves on to host Chesapeake from Anne Arundel County.
Chesapeake has had an interesting last two weeks. Losing at home to Northeast-Anne Arundel 28-27 in the teams’ regularseason finale, the Cougars hosted the Eagles again in the opening round of the playoffs and won, 38-13, advancing to the regional final Friday at 7 p.m. in Salisbury.
In the 1A East playoffs, the Bayside teams didn’t do nearly as well. No. 2 seed Cambridge-South Dorchester, in its fifth meeting with Perryville in eight seasons, scored early, but then gave up five unanswered scores