After his team advanced to a fourth straight Class 1A South Region final Saturday, Edmondson football coach Corey Johnson joked “the monkey has become a full grown gorilla.”
The Red Storm will get another chance to end its recent postseason frustrations with a 34-0 victory over National Academy Foundation. Edmondosn will play Reginald Lewis in next weekend’s region title match.
Lewis continued its turnaround season with a 24-0 victory over FAET. Alfonzo Graham scored two touchdowns for the Falcons (11-0 overall), and Dariun Miller threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Antwain Partlow.
After a sluggish first half, Lewis gradually pulled away to gain its first postseason victory. The Northern Parkway school was winless in three (2012, 2011 and 2008) previous region semifinal matches.
“We had some good drives, moved the ball then had some dumb penalties,” said Lewis first-year coach Elwood Townsend. “We turned the ball over more today than we’ve done all season. I can attest that to a little nerves for being the first playoff game for the kids who were here last year.”
“We came out sluggish. We weren’t really focused,” said Falcons quarterback Dariun Miller. “Defense set it off for us. They lifted us up.”
Miller, a senior who helped Douglass to the 2014 1A title game, connected with Partlow on a pump-and-go play down the sidelines, midway in the third quarter for Lewis’ first offensive touchdown. Graham scored on a 3-yard run, set up by a bad FAET punt snap.
Partlow snagged a short punt and scooted 25 yards for his second score, for a 24-0 advantage with 1:16 left in the third. Graham returned a punt 28 yards for Lewis’ first score early in the second.
The Falcons’ defense posted their eighth straight shutout as junior defensive Kavon Kimbrough had 14 tackles, four sacks and recovered a fumble. FAET, which won its first region title last fall, finished 5-5.
The Red Storm (5-6) got three touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Teon Gardner in its victory over NAF (6-5). Deshawn Ruffin caught two of Gardner’s scoring throws.
Gardner, who recently returned after sitting the first half of the season due to an undisclosed medical condition, opened the scoring with a 1-yard run. Gardner moved into the starting role in the second half of last regular season in place of Michael Taylor.
Taylor moved back into the starting role, but his 2016 season ended a few weeks ago with an ACL injury.
“We battled our confidence a little bit and instead of playing as a team, we were looking for somebody to bail us out of situations,” said Johnson. “We went back to the drawing board and started getting things right after the City game.”
“We can compete with anybody in the playoffs,” said Red Storm sophomore linebacker Tre’jour Owens. “The last couple of weeks, we’ve been more of a family and realize the talent that we have.”
The west Baltimore school established a 14-0 first quarter as Gardner followed his short TD run with a 6-yard strike to Ruffin. Gardner connected with Cordell Joyner from six yards, helping extend Edmondson’s lead to 22-0 at halftime.
On 4th down, sophomore Darryl Dantzler broke free for a 7-yard touchdown run midway in the third quarter. Ruffin pulled down Gardner’s lob in the corner of the end zone for a 25-yard score.
The Red Storm defense posted its second shutout in their last three decisions. Now comes the hard part for Edmondson, which lost to FAET in a mild upset last year. The Red Storm was blown out by Douglass in 2014 after a double overtime loss to the Ducks in 2013.
“We just keep pounding at the door and we know we’re going to breakthrough,” said Johnson, who was suspended for last year’s region final. “We’re not ‘here we go again,’ this is our time.”
Class 1A South Region football semifinals
Edmondson 34, National Academy Foundation 0
Edmondson 14 8 12 0 – 34
NAF 0 0 0 0 – 0
Edmondson – Gardner 1 run (conversion failed)
Edmondson – Ruffin 6 pass from Gardner (Gardner run)
Edmondson – Joyner 6 pass from Gardner (Joyner run)
Edmondson – Dantzler 7 run (run failed)
Edmondson – Ruffin 25 pass from Gardner (run failed)
Reginald Lewis 24, FAET 0
FAET 0 0 0 0 – 0
Reginald Lewis 0 6 18 0 – 24
Lewis – Graham 28 punt return (kick failed)
Lewis – Partlow 50 pass from Miller (run failed)
Lewis – Graham 3 run (pass failed)
Lewis – Partlow 25 punt return (run failed)