On Saturday, December 3, 2022, Lusby’s Patuxent High School Panthers (11-2) will play against powerhouse and prohibited favorite Baltimore’s Dunbar High School Poets, who come in undefeated (11-0) having steamrolled through the playoffs.  The game will kick off at noon at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, home to the Naval Academy Midshipmen.

This will be the Panthers’ 3rd title game appearance, having won the MPSSA State Championship game in 2015 (2A).  

Dunbar is going for its 12th Maryland State Championship in school history.  Both teams have one common opponent this year in Calvert High School; Calvert High School beat the Patuxent Panthers 28-14; Dunbar defeated Calvert High School 46-7 in a playoff game.  

The game will be played on turf, which should be an advantage to Dunbar, as their home field is also turf.  The Panthers play on a grass field, so most players will use cleats made to be played on grass.  This game is a mismatch on paper, and Dunbar should hoist its 13th Championship Trophy on Saturday.  

But, as Lee Corso, ESPN College Football analyst, would say, not so fast.  The Panthers play with determination, know their roles and rarely beat themselves.  They play with grit and grind. Most importantly, they play with heart and purpose.  One example is Panthers’ running back (JR) Daiquan Buck, who had major complications from a torn ACL, but willed and worked himself back to health. He was back on the field by week seven.

Aside from Buck above, who averages 8.8 yards per carry, there is also talent in the Panthers’ Den.  Asa Locks is a dynamic receiver and punt returner that could flip the Poets’ script in a blink of an eye; Evan Blouir has rushed over one thousand yards. Then there’s Jalon Edwards, who dominates defensively from the LB position. Jed Lancaster has been a solid contributor with 8 TDs, while freshman Evan Jones has amassed 581 total yards and 6 TDs.

If the Panthers have a chance, it will be because of intangibles, which could very well determine the outcome. Just as it did in 2015 when Patuxent squeaked by Dunbar 17-8 in the semi-finals before capturing the 2A Maryland State Championship, the Panthers and Steve Crounse would not have it any other way.  

 More related articles will be published by the Southern Maryland Chronicle in days to come.

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