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The Stephen Decatur football team is headed to the 2A state semifinals – for the first time since 2004 – after a decisive 36-7 victory over the Potomac Wolverines last Friday in Oxon Hill. (Left) Sophomore Nate Tapley carries the ball. (Right) Junior quarterback Brycen Coleman was 7-for-11 passing for 79 yards and throwing two touchdowns. He rushed 18 times for 108 yards and a touch- down

Seahawks ‘dominated all three phases of the game’ against Potomac Wolverines

(Nov. 25, 2022) The Stephen Decatur football team is headed to the 2A state semifinals – for the first time since 2004 – after a decisive 36-7 victory over the Potomac Wolverines last Friday in Oxon Hill.

“Defense played lights out, special teams caused two turnovers and the offense had championship drives. We kept the pedal to the metal and the kids went out there and they finished them,” said Decatur Coach Jake Coleman. “We dominated all three phases of the game. It’s something I don’t think anyone expected to see. The kids went out there and played unbelievable.”

Fourth-seeded Potomac struck first, scoring less than two minutes into the game.

“I felt like they were ready to go. We had a couple drops and early penalties, but they settled down very quickly and realized they could dominate the game and win,” Coleman said. “We out-willed them. I think it was good for us to get scored on first. It kind of woke us up. I don’t think they ever lost their confidence.”

Fifth-seeded Decatur tied it up when junior quarterback Brycen Coleman found senior Luke Mergott with 4:53 to play in the first quarter. Junior Brogan Eastlack’s kick was good.

“Going down on the next drive was pivotal,” the coach said. “They’ve only given up 33 points in 11 games so I think that was probably a little shocking to them.”

Coleman ran the ball into the end zone about two minutes later to put the visiting Seahawks up 13-7.

“I told them all week, if we were tied or leading after the first quarter we were going to win,” Coleman said. “They did this by staying positive, believing in themselves and each other.”

Senior Daegan Risser recovered a fumble and scored to boost Decatur’s advantage to 19-7 with a little under nine minutes remaining in the first half.

“Many guys played their best games, but Daegan Risser and [senior] A’zavion Manuel had the best games of their careers,” Coleman said. “They were both absolutely dominant.”

Coleman threw to Mergott for another score with 1:05 left in the second quarter. Eastlack was successful on the two-point conversion.

The Seahawks were on top, 27-7, at halftime.

After a blocked punt, junior Gavin Solito returned the ball 41 yards and Decatur pulled ahead, 33-7, with 9:50 on the clock in the third quarter.

Eastlack put three final points on the board with a 25-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

“Scoring 36 points on them, that’s kind of a big deal,” Coleman said. “PG County, there’s a lot of talented kids there. It speaks how good the Bayside Conference is here.”

Coleman was 7-for-11 passing for 79 yards and throwing two touchdowns. He rushed 18 times for 108 yards and a touchdown.

Mergott caught four passes for 59 yards and two touchdowns.

The Decatur defense was led Solito (five tackles, assisted) and sophomore Amarian Manuel (three solo, two assisted).

Sophomores Sully Auker (three assisted tackles) and Ethan Bradshaw (one solo, two assisted) also contributed on defense.

“The kids have showed improvement throughout the season. We’re continuing an upward trend on all three phases of the game,” Coleman said. “They’re playing their best football in the playoffs. They trust each other, they communicate and they’re playing for each other. The kids have great character. It’s a pleasure to coach this group.”

Decatur has advanced to the state semifinals three times, with the most recent in 2004, Coleman said, noting this is the first time the Seahawks have won three playoff games in the same season as the format and number of teams participating has changed over the years.

“It went from eight to 16 to 32 teams. Now you have to win three to get to the semis,” he said. “It’s a cool accomplishment for the kids.”

Decatur will play top-seeded Milford Mill tonight, Friday, at 6:30 p.m. in Baltimore.

“We have to play better than we did against Potomac in all three phases of the game,” Coleman said. “We’re going to be smaller and slower, so we’ve got to be strong together as a team and be gritty. We weren’t supposed to win last week and we dominated. Anything can happen. I know this team will never give up. They just don’t have it in them.”

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