MPSSAA 3A Semifinals - News & Notes

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#1 BSLWillieSeanCoughlan


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Posted 24 November 2023 - 04:11 PM

3A Semifinals

4 City College (8-4) @ 1 Oakdale (12-0)

- Oakdale has advanced to their fourth state semifinal in five post-seasons, routing Elkton 38-0 in the 2018 semifinals, before going on to win their only state championship, and edging St Charles, 27-22, in last season’s 2A semifinals, before losing 21-14 to Damascus in the 2A state title game.

- Kurt Stein has built the Bears program from its inception. After a 1-18 start to the program, the Bears are 91-30 (75.2%), and after a 1-5 post-season start, the Bears are 12-2 (85.7%) in their last 14 p/o gms.

- The Bears have scored 42 points or more in each of their last eight games, and are averaging 41.9 points per game. Oakdale has outscored their twelve opponents by a cumulative total of 200-19 in the first quarter this season, and are averaging 27.9 first half points. Last week, Oakdale led Oakland Mills, 42-0 at intermission.

- The Bears ‘Big 3’ of seniors Evan Austin, Hunter Thompson, and Dominic Nichols, have have been the catalysts for the undefeated team from Ijamsville. Austin, a Charlotte commit, who will play as a receiver in college, has accounted for 2,683 yards and 38 touchdowns as the Bears dual threat quarterback. Austin has thrown for 1,782 yards and 21 touchdowns, and rushed for 901 yards and 17 touchdowns. In the Bears win over Oakland Mills, Austin passed Collin Schlee for the top spot on the program’s career passing yardage list. Austin is also the Bears all-time leading rusher, and all-time touchdown scorer.

- Thompson, an Ohio commit, has 57 receptions for 1,093 yards and 15 touchdown receptions, adding two punt return touchdowns, and returning a kickoff for a score. Nichols, a Michigan commit, leads the Bears with 43 solo tackles, 25.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, 65 quarterback pressures, four forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, an interception, and 14 pass deflections. Thompson’s 2,340 career receiving yards ranks 11th all-time in MPSSAA history. Nichols’ marks in tackles for loss and sacks are program single-season records.

- This is City’s fourth state semifinal appearance in the program’s history, but first in 18 post-seasons. The Black Knights have never before advanced to a state title game. The Black Knights lost 35-6 to Westminster in a 3A semifinal in ‘05, and finished 11-2.

- Black Knights coach Rodney Joyner, an ‘84 graduate of City College, in in his third season as head coach at his alma mater, and holds a 22-11 record heading into the semifinal.

- City College, who began playing in the 1870s, was once a regional power, winning 18 MSA championships, and finished ranked #8 in the nation in 1965 by the National Sports News Service after finishing 9-0. The ‘65 team was coached by future New York Giants GM George Young, and quarterbacked by future Baltimore City mayor Kurt Schmoke.

- Black Knights junior quarterback Nick Cyrus is 66 passing yards away from setting the MPSSAA single-season passing yards record, surpassing Billy Cosh’s mark of 3,913, set at Arundel in ‘08. Cyrus has completed 219 of 302 passes (72.5%) for 3,848 yards and 45 touchdowns, with ten interceptions. Cyrus’ 45 passing touchdowns ranks fourth in MPSSAA history in a single-season. With 507 rushing yards and ten rushing touchdowns, Cyrus has accounted for 4,355 yards and 55 touchdowns in twelve games this season.

- The Black Knights ‘Big 3’ receiving corps continues to set MPSSAA records as a unit, including the first trio of receivers on one team to each hold ‘Power 5’ offers, and the first trio to each register 1,000 or more receiving yards in a season. Junior Romero Ison has nabbed 65 receptions for 1,375 yards and 15 touchdowns, and holds offers from Penn State and Michigan State, among others. Ison has produced 2,405 all-purpose yards, and has scored 20 touchdowns in all. Maryland commit Jahmari Powell-Wonson has recorded 53 receptions 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns, while junior Vernon Allen boasts a team-best 72 receptions, with1,053 receiving yards and 12 touchdown receptions.

6 Northern - Calvert (8-4) @ 3 Linganore (11-1)

- This matchup features a rematch of the 2021 3A state final, won by Northern, 28-23, giving the Patriots their first state title on the gridiron. The Patriots raced out to a 28-7 first half lead, before the Lancers comeback bid fell just short. The Lancers have advanced to the state semifinals for the fifth time in six post-seasons. Other than their ‘21 state championship season, Northern’s only other semifinal appearances had come in ‘88, ‘89, and ‘90, all ending in defeat.

- Linganore is making their 16th state semifinal appearance, tied for the sixth most appearances in MPSSAA history. The Lancers are 14-1 in the state semifinal round, the best record in MPSSAA history in the round. The Lancers only loss in the state semifinals came in 1980, their very first foray into the ‘Final Four’.

- Linganore coach Rick Conner is in his season 22nd season with the Lancers, and holds a 226-67 overall record, including his three seasons with Brunswick in the 90s. Conner ranks 12th all-time among Maryland public school coaches in wins, and ranks third all-time in MPSSAA history in post-season wins, with 36. Coach Conner is 9-0 in the semifinal round.

- The Lancers are averaging 42.4 points per game, and have scored 40 or more in 9 if their 12 games.

- Last Friday, the Lancers held a tenuous 7-3 edge over Franklin with four minutes remaining in the game, before pouring in 23 points of the 30 points scored in the final 230 seconds.

- Linganore’s Ethan Arneson sits with 5,815 career rushing yards heading into the semifinal contest, currently the fifth highest total in MPSSAA history. Arneson needs 34 rushing yards to surpass Dalonte Waters (Parkside) for fourth on the list, and 106 yards to surpass Ben Tate (Decatur/Snow Hill) for third. Arneson needs three touchdowns to snap former Urbana star Ray Gray’s career touchdown total of 70 for the Frederick County record.

- Northern finished the season at 5-4, closing with what was arguably the toughest final three game stretch among contenders in the MPSSAA, falling to a trio of top 20 teams in Calvert, Patuxent, and Huntingtown, all 2023 state semifinalists.

- Northern coach Rich Holzer took the helm at Northern in the early stages of the pandemic, in April of 2020, and has led the Patriots to a 30-7 record in his three-plus seasons in Owings. Holzer was at Mt St Joe before joining the Patriots, and led the Gaels for four seasons, including to a MIAA A title in his final season in 2019. Holzer also had prior head coaching jobs at Parkdale and Meade.

- The Patriots are averaging 433 yards of offense per game, including 262 through the air, and 171 in the ground. However, the Patriots allow 18.9 points per game.

- Patriots junior Miles Halbert is 28 receiving yards from setting the MPSSAA single-season receiving yardage mark, held by Blaine Price, who registered 1,749 at Brunswick in 2012. On the season, Halbert has totaled 92 receptions for 1,722 yards and 17 touchdowns. Halbert’s 92 receptions are the sixth highest single-season mark in MPSSAA history.

- Patriots senior quarterback Isaiah Randall has completed 170 of 256 passes (66.4%) for 2,593 yards and 21 touchdowns, with seven interceptions. Randall has also rushed for 471 yards and five touchdowns. Senior Tyler Brown has rushed for 1,488 yards and 20 touchdowns on 253 carries, and caught 20 passes for 242 yards and one score.
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