CUMBERLAND — Fort Hill and Frankfort play for state football semifinal berths tonight, while Keyser plays for the same tomorrow afternoon as the second round of the Maryland and West Virginia football playoffs take place this weekend.
The second-seeded Fort Hill Sentinels (9-2) shoot for their third straight Maryland 1A West Region championship when they play host to the fourth-seeded Brunswick Railroaders (7-4) tonight, 7 o’clock, at Greenway Avenue Stadium. Then, at 7:30 p.m., at Wayne Jamison Field in Bridgeport, the sixth-seeded Frankfort Falcons (8-3) take on the third-seeded Bridgeport Indians (8-2) in one West Virginia Class AA quarterfinal, with the winner playing the winner of Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. quarterfinal at Keyser between the second-seeded Golden Tornado (10-1) and the seventh-seeded Scott Skyhawks (8-3).
Brunswick at Fort Hill
As they continue to exceed everybody else’s expectations, the Sentinels merely play on to continue to meet their own, as Fort Hill shook up the area football community again in last Friday’s regional semifinals by handing Allegany another 21-20 setback, one week after knocking off the Campers, 21-20, in the Homecoming Game.
The Sentinels won their seventh game in a row by overcoming a 14-0 deficit late in the third quarter. Dekarai Darr’s three-yard TD run with 2:06 left in the third quarter and Micah May’s fumble recovery in the end zone at 9:39 of the fourth helped send the game to overtime. Quarterback Hunter Squires then went in from a yard out for the go-ahead touchdown to open the Kansas tiebreaker session.
The Sentinels’ junior placekicker Chris King then kicked his third extra point of the game and, for the second straight week, those kicks were the difference in the game, as the Campers, after scoring to get to within 21-20, were stopped cold on the two-point conversion try by Fort Hill junior lineman Cody Arigo to end the game.
Squires completed 8 of 18 passes for 131 yards, Travis Bush caught six passes for 90 yards and Zac Elbin ran eight times for 75 yards for Fort Hill.
Brunswick, on the other hand, reached the final by beating top-seeded Boonsboro, 39-16, three weeks after losing to the Warriors, 47-0. The Railroaders return to Cumberland after falling to Fort Hill last year in the West quarterfinals, 49-27, as their quarterback, 6-foot-6, 250-pound Ian Fisher, now at James Madison, completed 41 of 63 passes for 453 yards.
The quarterback this season is Collin Nusbaum, but little else has changed for Brunswick, with nine returning starters on offense, including split end Blaine Price, who has caught a state-record 118 passes this season and a state-record 253 for his career. Nine of those receptions went for 97 yards last year against Fort Hill.
The Railroaders pass on nearly every down, they onside kick on nearly every kickoff, and they never huddle as they attempt to force their up-tempo game on defenders. They opened the season with losses to Manchester Valley and Middletown, but have lost just twice since then with victories over North Carroll, Smithsburg, Clear Spring, Williamsport, previously undefeated South Hagerstown, Catoctin and, last week, Boonsboro.
The Railroaders lost at North Hagerstown, 35-21, one week after the Hubs beat Fort Hill, 54-16, the last loss the Sentinels have experienced.
This will mark Fort Hill’s seventh straight appearance in the West Region title game, the Sentinels going 5-2 in these games, including a win in the 2004 Class 2A game.
Frankfort at Bridgeport
The Falcons dominated Summers County, 38-7, last Saturday night at Frankfort Stadium, and went to the air in the first half, then to the ground in the second half to do it.
Split end Thane Cutter caught four passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, while Damian Morgan rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns in the second half to advance to the state quarterfinals for the first time in two years and for the fifth time in school history. A win tonight for the Falcons would make them the third team in school history to reach the semifinals, joining the teams of 1994 and 2009.
After falling behind 7-0, Frankfort used a John McNeil 36-yard field goal, a safety and two Gage Shaffer touchdown passes to Cutter to take a 20-7 lead. Cutter finished the night with five catches for 93 yards and Shaffer was 8 for 10 passing for 133 yards and three touchdowns.
Bridgeport, a conservative offensive team by nature, took a 28-0 halftime lead on River View last week on its way to the 54-6 win. Thousand-yard rusher Brett Hathaway scored on runs of five and 60 yards in the first quarter, with Troy Anderson hitting Cullen Cutright with a 24-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
Hathaway finished the game with 188 yards on 17 carries, putting him at 1,620 yards for the season. The Indians threw six times last week, completing five for 82 yards and a touchdown.
Frankfort is 0-3 and has been outscored 60-15 against Bridgeport, all three meetings coming in the playoffs, with two of the three being played in Bridgeport. The last meeting took place in 2003, a 30-7 Bridgeport win.
This marks the sixth year in a row the Indians have advanced to the second round of the playoffs, in which they have gone 7-12 since 1984, but 6-2 at Wayne Jamison Field. All-time, Bridgeport is 37-26 in the playoffs with six state championships.
Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org