CUMBERLAND — Fort Hill and Northern got the job done in the regular season to ensure both would start its playoff runs in favorable territory as the chase for a state title begins tonight for Maryland’s public schools.
The Sentinels (8-1, 7.44 average points rating) begin their Class 1A state title defense as the No. 2 seed in 1A West and will host No. 7 Brunswick (4-5, 3.33).
The Huskies (8-1, 7.00) got in as the No. 3 seed and will welcome No. 6 Williamsport (5-4, 4.00) to Half-Mile High Stadium.
Southern, with one of the tougher schedules in all of 1A, got in as the eighth-seed (3-6, 2.33) and travels to top-seeded Catoctin (8-1, 7.67).
The other matchup in 1A West is No. 5 Clear Spring (5-4, 4.00) at No. 4 Boonsboro (5-4, 4.22).
All games kick off at 7 p.m.
Brunswick at Fort Hill
The Sentinels enter the playoffs with a five-game win streak, outscoring opponents 273-32 in the process with an average game score of 55-6.
Fort Hill is coming off the back of a 38-14 win over Allegany in Homecoming. Carson Snyder led the offense with 180 yards and three touchdowns, winning Offensive Player of the Game, while Alijah Metz led the stingy Sentinel defense and recovered a fumble to take home Defensive Player of the Game honors.
The Sentinels’ path to their sixth state title in seven years begins against Brunswick, a team they are 2-1 against all-time. Fort Hill won the first meeting in 2011 in the 1A West Region semifinals, 49-27, before falling to the Railroaders in the 2012 region final, 46-42. Fort Hill won the lone regular-season meeting in the 2016 season opener, 73-0.
The only area team to play the Railroaders this season was Northern. The Huskies won the season-opener for both 22-12.
The winner of tonight’s contest plays the winner of Williamsport-Northern next week with the higher seed hosting the game.
Williamsport at Northern
The Huskies, like the Sentinels, look to extend their winning streak to six games this evening as Northern’s lone blemish came at home to Frankfort, 28-21, on Sept. 27. During the five-game run, Northern has three shutouts — back-to-back wins at Grafton (27-0) and at Moorefield (33-0) to start the streak and a 36-0 win over cross-county rival Southern last week.
Hunter Meyers and Jamison Warnick both rushed for a pair of scores over their Garrett County rival, and Meyers added a 57-yard fumble recovery touchdown.
The Huskies have been without their leading rusher, Jake Rush, for the past two weeks, and will be without him throughout their playoff push as Rush suffered a torn ACL during the 33-14 win over Mountain Ridge on Oct. 18. On the season, Rush, a junior, averaged just under 100 yards per game (99.7) with 79 carries for 698 yards and eight touchdowns.
Leading the offense is quarterback Zach Hallenbeck, who is 48 of 82 through the air for 717 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions. Aside from Rush, Hallenbeck is the Huskies leading rusher with 89 attempts for 580 yards and eight scores.
Meyers has 86 carries for 453 yards and a team-high nine rushing touchdowns and Warnick has tallied 57 carries for 407 yards and six TDs.
Isaac Bittinger leads the receiving corps with 21 catches for 270 yards and four scores. Warnick has added 12 catches for 235 yards and a score and Rush had 11 receptions for 134 yards and one touchdown.
Warnick leads the team in all-purpose yards with 1,200. He has 13 kick returns for 280 yards and 15 punt returns for 278 yards.
Jacob Glotfelty leads the defense with 101 tackles, including 40 solos and 61 assists, to go along with 25.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and one interception.
Meyers is second on the team in tackles with 67 to go along with three fumble recoveries and an interception. Garrett Emory has 60 tackles and two fumble recoveries.
Williamsport fell to Class 3A South Hagerstown last week, 48-6. The Wildcats’ lone win against area competition this season came two weeks ago with a 27-23 win at home against Mountain Ridge.
Tonight’s meeting between the Huskies and Wildcats marks the first since an early regular-season matchup in 2012, won by Williamsport 21-14.
Southern at Catoctin
The Rams had a two-game win streak snapped with the loss to Northern last week. Southern previously ended a five-game losing streak with back-to-back wins over Tucker County (55-0) and Brunswick (49-28).
During the five-game skid, the Rams lost at Class 1A South No. 3 Gwynn Park, at home to West Virginia Class A No. 3 Pendleton, at Catoctin (46-21) and at Fort Hill (55-0).
Catoctin’s lone loss came the week following the victory over Southern to Class 2A West No. 5 Walkersville in overtime 34-31.
The winner of tonight’s contest plays the winner of the Clear Spring-Boonsboro matchup.
Follow Staff Writer Kyle Bennett on Twitter @KyleBennettCTN.