Since the creation of the region playoff format in 2003, only three teams have won state titles with multi-loss seasons. The pairings in this week's 4A region finals guarantees at least two of next week's state semifinalists will have multiple losses.
The West final pits a pair of 9-2 teams while the North final has a 9-2 squad playing host to a 7-4 team.
Arundel, in 4A East, is the lone undefeated program in Class 4A this season and is considered the favorite, followed closely by 10-1 Flowers and 10-1 Wise from the South region.
Lowest Seed Likely To Win: Patterson. For certain, either a No. 3 or 4 region seed will make the semifinals this year. Patterson gets the edge thanks to its overpowering 37-0 victory over favored Woodlawn.
Regional Semifinal Surprise: Old Mill. The Old Mill-North Point contest was supposed to be game. The Millers made sure it wasn't. Old Mill not only defeated previously undefeated North Point, it drove the point home in a 24-0 contest.
No. 3 Paint Branch (9-2) at No. 1 Sherwood (9-2)
Details: Friday at Sherwood, 7 p.m.
Most Recent Meeting: 2009, Sherwood won, 19-0
Paint Branch Region Final History: No is Paint Branch known as the program of promise. These guys have delivered. Paint Branch is making its first region final appearance.
Sherwood Region Final History: Sherwood is making its fifth straight region final appearance and has won three of the last four.
Game Notes: Whether it is an advantage or not remains to be seen, but Sherwood soundly defeated Paint Branch 19-0 during Week 3 and head coach Pat Cilento said this team is healthier than they were during that first meeting. Quarterback A.J. Pignone has matured over the course of the season, throwing for 480 yards and four touchdowns in the last four games. Pignone had thrown for 287 in the previous four games. The Warriors will rely on a defense that recorded four shutouts this season to prevent the Panthers from getting big plays from its stable of talented skill position players. Running back Cyrus Britt has been the offensive workhorse for Paint Branch with 1,158 yards rushing. Paint Branch rolled the dice a little bit last week when it put in sophomore David Smith as the starting quarterback. Smith responded with a 132-yard performance in his first ever start, helping lead the win over Whitman. For the rematch against Sherwood, Smith could see some time at quarterback while the regular starter, Tracy Martin, sees more time at running back. Paint Branch head coach Mike Nesmith said Martin was the starter at running back at the beginning of last year, but was moved to quarterback out of necessity. If the Panthers can get the continued play from sophomore Bene't Willis (987 yards, 14 touchdowns) and add Martin (475 yards, four touchdowns) on some packages, it could give Sherwood problems defensively.
No. 4 Thomas Johnson (7-4) vs. No. 3 Patterson (9-2)
Details: Friday at Poly Complex, 7 p.m.
Most Recent Meeting: First meeting
Thomas Johnson Region Final History: For the first time since 2003, the 4A final does not feature Perry Hall. Instead, it has a pair of programs seeking rare state semifinal appearances. Thomas Johnson won its only region final appearance in 2007.
Patterson Region Final History: Patterson is making its third region final appearance, first since winning the region in 2004.
Game Notes: Thomas Johnson has had an up-and-down season - a three-game winning streak and a two-game losing streak during the year. But maybe the Patriots are hitting their stride at the right time. Even with running back/linebacker Jeremy Grove out for the rest of the season, Thomas Johnson defeated Urbana 21-14. The Patriots' defense has been consistent this season, allowing more than 16 points only twice and holding Fort Hill and Linganore to 36 points combined. The offense runs around University of California commit Nick Forbes, who has rushed for more than 900 yards this season. Without Grove, Thomas Johnson is expected to rely more on quarterback Ryon Lynch and sophomore athlete Deandre Scott, who had a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown against Urbana. Patterson's defense has not been quite as consistent, allowing more than 20 points four times, but allowing less than 10 six times, including four shutouts. Offensively, Deonta Winston is coming off a 141-yard, two-touchdown performance in the win over Woodlawn.
No. 2 Flowers (10-1) at No. 1 Wise (10-1)
Details: Saturday at Wise, 1 p.m.
Most Recent Meeting: 2009, Flowers won, 14-12
Flowers Region Final History: Flowers has been the 4A South region runner-up every year since 2003 except in 2007. However, the program is still seeking its first region final victory.
Wise Region Final History: Wise made its first region final appearance last year and won the title.
Game Notes: It was only 14 points, but it was the difference between an undefeated regular season and adding to an already impressive state record. Now Wise gets a chance to exact revenge for the 14-12 loss Flowers handed them during Week 10. In that game, Wise held Flowers to only one play of more than 10 yards, but Flowers was able to continuously move the ball a few yards at a time to pull out the win. The Pumas have an MPSSAA record for consecutive shutouts (8) and need only two more for the state record (11) for shutouts in a season. Defensive back Andre Makell returns to the lineup after being out since Week 6 with a broken arm. These teams are similar offensively, relying on multiple players to run them to victory. Wise's two wins over Eleanor Roosevelt were both 6-0 while Flowers defeated the Raiders 22-13 just three weeks ago. Flowers has never made it past the 4A South region final, which is a little surprising since it has been one of the most consistent programs in Prince George's County - winning at least 10 games every year with the exception of 2007 when they went 6-4 with forfeits. Wise is the newest school in PG County, but made the state semifinals last season and return every key player from that team.
No. 3 Old Mill (9-2) at No. 1 Arundel (11-0)
Details: Friday at Arundel, 7 p.m.
Most Recent Meeting: 2009, Arundel won, 34-27
Old Mill Region Final History: The Millers are in the 4A East region final for the fourth time since 2004, and its only title came in 2005, beating none-other than Arundel.
Arundel Region Final History: Arundel has surged to the top of Anne Arundel County football and is making its third straight region final appearance. The Wildcats were region champs in 2007 and 2008.
Game Notes: It has been 10 weeks, but Old Mill has not forgotten about its Week 1 loss to Arundel. In that game, Old Mill received 362 yards rushing from Josh Furman and Jason Clements. But it was Arundel's Joseph Blackwell who took the headlines, rushing for 173 yards and a touchdown while adding 83 receiving yards and three more touchdowns. For the Patriots, the key to victory is simple - stop Billy Cosh. Therein lies the problem, but Annapolis may have shown a solution. Annapolis held Cosh to one of his most pedestrian games of the year, 112 yards and two touchdowns in the rain -- it was the first time all season Cosh had been held below 200 yards passing. But Cosh brings his 51 touchdowns and the possibility of several state records in his hands into this game. The senior is five touchdowns away form tying his own record for most touchdown passes in a season and from the state record for most career touchdown passes (113). Cosh's favorite receiver, Ronnie Harris, is only two touchdown catches away from the state record for most receiving touchdowns (27) and is approaching the career record for touchdown receptions (49). Harris is also nine catches away from tying the record for most receptions in a season (103).