Roosevelt and Wise Prepare for Regional Final Battle
The Raiders are just one win away from the state semifinals.
If Eleanor Roosevelt High School is to continue its quest for a state championship, it's going to have to overcome the team that halted its two previous attempts.
The Raiders will look to end a four-game losing streak – including two playoff defeats – against Henry A. Wise when they travel to take on the Pumas in the 4A South title game on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Saturday's winner advances to face either Arundel (10-1) or Broadneck (9-2) in the 4A state semifinals.
"They want to play next week," Roosevelt coach Tom Green said of his players. "That's the bottom line. You've got to win this week to play next week. The kids understand what's at stake. They know the region is at stake. They know a chance to play in the semis and represent our county is at stake, and that's something that we really want to do. We want to represent Prince George's County in the state semifinals."
Doing so won't be easy. The top-seeded Pumas (10-1) have won the past two regional championships, and they've outscored their opponents 379-78 this year. Since dropping its season opener to Suitland, Wise has won 10 in a row.
The No. 3 Raiders (9-2), however, historically have played Wise tough. Roosevelt won its regular-season meeting with Wise in 2008, but was beaten at home in the first round of the playoffs. Last season, Wise won both the regular-season and playoff matchups.
In the pair's last meeting – a 22-14 Wise victory on Sept. 25 – the Pumas got an interception from sophomore cornerback Chaudlier Shepard with 1:14 remaining to seal the win. The pick was the fourth Roosevelt turnover of the day.
"This stage is a little bit bigger," Wise coach DaLawn Parrish said. "We've normally been bumping heads in the first round, and not all the time does the better team win. I think the first time we beat them, they were the better team, and we just happened to be better that day. I guess that's why we play them on Saturday, as they say. You've got figure out whose best on that day, and hopefully we'll give our best performance."
The ball-hawking Wise defense forced 10 turnovers in back-to-back wins over C.H. Flowers the past two weeks. Turnovers, of course, have been the Achilles' Heel of the Raiders in their losses this season. In Roosevelt's two defeats this year, the team has turned the ball over a total of eight times.
"The first game, it was more than just the turnovers – it was where we turned the ball over," Green said. "We turned the ball over on our own 30, we turned the ball over on our own 15 and we gave them an interception for a touchdown. When you do that, it's hard to beat a good team. But to have four turnovers and still have a chance to win at the end makes you feel a little bit better about it. For the kids' psyches though, it's kind of good that we did lose, for the sake of our kids understanding that if we don't play our best game, then they can beat us."
According to Parrish, the same is true on the other sideline.
"Anytime Roosevelt and us come together, it's always about who turns the ball over less," he said. "If you look back to the last time we lost to them, we turned the ball over three times. And if you come back and see the times we've won, they've turned the ball over. It's just been the last few times, they've turned the ball over more than us, and I think that's typical of most good teams once they play each other."
Stay tuned to Patch for full coverage of Saturday's playoff matchup.
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