St. Frances and McDonogh tangle at noon; Gilman and Calvert Hall square off at 3 pm; both games at CCBC-Essex
A Conference semifinals
No. 5 McDonogh School (6-4) vs. No. 1 St. Frances Academy (10-0)
Outlook: In what some thought would be the MIAA A final weeks ago, the Panthers and Eagles meet in the first semifinal. The first meeting last month was a battle for No. 1 with St. Frances winning, 28-0, at Patterson Park.
Terrell Smith picked off four passes including a backbreaking 30-yard pick six early in the second half, putting the Panthers up 21-0. Junior Joachim Bangda rushed for two scores.
The east Baltimore school, ranked 13th in latest USA Today Super 25, has been dominant this season, outscoring opponents, 400-44. Junior dual threat quarterback Jal0n Jones leads the offense with a powerful trio of running backs in Bangda, Osman Savage and Nyjil Carr, and West Virginia commit Randy Fields on the outside.
Senior end and Under Armour All-American Eyabi Anoma spearheads a defense that posted six shutouts during the regular season. The Panthers became the first team to shutout McDonogh since 2012.
The Eagles struggled down the stretch, losing three of their final five games. Injuries have played part with key players Dejuan Ellis, Jabriel Johnson and BJ Farrare. Farrare, who suffered a foot injury in the second half of the first meeting with St. Frances, could be back for Sunday’s rematch.
McDonogh’s hopes of pulling the upset may come down to its ability to hold up against St. Frances’ depth. Penn State commit PJ Mustipher (6-foot-5, 300 pounds) is the area’s best two-way linemen.
No. 11 Calvert Hall College (6-4) vs. No. 10 Gilman School (4-6)
Time: 3 p.m.
Outlook: The Greyhounds look to continue their resurgence. After winning just one league match last fall (2-9 overall), the Roland Park school won two of its last three decisions, including a 24-21 victory over McDonogh last Saturday evening in Owings Mills.
Gilman used a Piper Bond 34-yard touchdown pass to Zachary Dixon off a reverse and Khari Jones’ 75-yard punt return to stake it to a 17-0 first half advantage. Brandon Madison added a key three-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Bond, Madison and defensive end/tight end Thomas Booker have sparked Gilman’s turnaround. The Greyhounds, in fifth-place going into last weekend, jumped to the No. 2 seed (won tiebreaker for most points scored in league’s matches).
Calvert Hall made a late run into the four-team playoff, beating McDonogh in its last league match Oct. 27. Trailing 21-7, the Cardinals got three long touchdown passes from quarterback Mike Campbell, two to Xavier Gravette and one to Cole Herbert, and Jordan McLaughlin rushed for two scores.
In one of several topsy turvy MIAA A regular season matches, Gilman defeated Calvert Hall, 35-28, Oct. 6 in Roland Park as Spanky Dixon’s one-yard touchdown run with 35 seconds remaining in regulation was the difference. The winning score was set up by a Greyhound blocked punt.
Madison rushed for 118 yards and scored three touchdowns for Gilman, which led 28-14 at halftime. Sophomore running back Sean Tucker had 121 yards for The Hall, and Campbell finished 15-of-29 for 194 yards and a touchdown.
The Cardinals and Greyhounds met in the first two MIAA A championship games, both won by Gilman (34-32 in 2011; 35-7 in 2012). If Calvert Hall wins Sunday, it will play in the final next Sunday at Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood Field.
The Cardinals would have three full days before their Turkey Bowl match with Loyola Blakefield Thanksgiving morning.
Gates at CCBC-Essex open at 11:00 a.m. Admission is $10 for the entire day. There will be no live streaming of this event.