BRANDYWINE – The 2A Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association regional finals turned out to be a one-sided affair between Gwynn Park and Hereford on Nov. 18.
Kamari Brown led the Yellowjackets’ offense to victory with 304 passing yards, three touchdowns through the air and a rushing touchdown to secure the 43-0 shutout and Gwynn Park's first regional final win since 2005.
“I feel great. We just won the regional championship, and I had to trust my guys as we ran our routes and I had to trust my line out there,” Brown said.
Gwynn Park Head Coach Danny Hayes witnessed a noticeable improvement from his team’s opening playoff game against Edmondson-Westside on Nov. 10.
“I’m feeling really good,” Hayes said. “The curtains opened up tonight and they put on a show this week. We had to give the parents back their money last week because we didn’t look like Gwynn Park.
“This week we looked like Gwynn Park. Now we have to figure out a game plan next week for our opponent.”
The Yellowjackets overpowered the Bulls early in the game. With only two minutes elapsed off the clock, Brown launched a pass to Dante Baxter for an 80-yard touchdown to open things up. The reception was his first of two scores on the evening for Baxter, who finished with 120 receiving yards.
“I feel great coming off a two-touchdown game,” Baxter said. “I’m really hyped right now. I feel like I can do anything right now. The team must stay focused, and we have to get prepared for the next game.”
After the early score, Gwynn Park’s defense found ways to appear invincible against the Hereford offense. After a tremendous defensive effort, Gwynn Park maintained possession as Brown handed the ball off to Tray Laster, who followed his blockers into the endzone for a 25-yard score. It was his lone touchdown of the night and gave the Yellowjackets a 13-0 lead. Brown added a 20-yard rushing score of his own before the quarter ended to give Gwynn Park a cushion it would never relinquish.
The only non-touchdown scoring play came in the early stages of the second quarter. After a few incompletions, the Yellowjackets’ M’Baye Muhmmand nailed a 15-yard field goal to make it 22-0.
The first half was dominated by the Yellowjackets thanks to a bevy of passing and rushing plays that led to scores. Gwynn Park held a 36-0 advantage at the half thanks to the efforts of Brown, Baxter, Laster and Nathan Isaac.
Following the second half kickoff, Gwynn Park maintained its intensity on both sides of the ball. The Bulls failed to get past the swarming Yellowjackets defense again, and a turnover on downs resulted in good field position for the locals.
On the first play of the drive, Brown handed it off to Ryan Clemons, who burst through a gap to score a 60-yard touchdownm aking it 43-0. Clemons’ run marked the final scoring play for the Yellowjackets, as they finished the day with 420 yards offensively.
The game marked the end of Hereford’s season, and Head Coach Ric Evans could not help but feel defeated.
“It was a gut punch. This isn’t the team that we put on the field every game and this was just one game,” Evans said. “You have to give credit to (Gwynn Park) because they did everything we thought they could after the first couple of touchdowns.”
The Yellowjackets (10-1) advance to the state semifinals and will play at Harford Tech (12-0) on Saturday.