Howard County High School Sports: Fall: Region/States: Class 2A Football: With Star Limited, the Hawks Soar

Sunday, December 7
Class 2A Football: With Star Limited, the Hawks Soar

River Hill 31, Eastern Tech 6

PHOTOS
 River Hill's Leron Eaddy, right, outjumps and Eastern Tech player for the ball. Eaddy caught two passes for 33 yards and also rushed for a score.
River Hill's Leron Eaddy, right, outjumps and Eastern Tech player for the ball. Eaddy caught two passes for 33 yards and also rushed for a score. (Preston Keres - The Washington Post)
River Hill's Ryan Griffin, left and Patrick McCleaf celebrate their second straight state championship. The team is 41-1 over the past three seasons.
River Hill's Ryan Griffin, left and Patrick McCleaf celebrate their second straight state championship. The team is 41-1 over the past three seasons. (Photos By Preston Keres -- The Washington Post)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 7, 2008; Page D11

 

BALTIMORE, Dec. 6 -- This game ended just like any other on River Hill's schedule during the past two seasons, with triumphant smiles all around. What made the Hawks' 31-6 victory over Eastern Tech in Saturday's Maryland 2A championship a bit more impressive, however, was how it was accomplished: With All-Met senior Michael Campanaro limited to playing only on defense and often getting massages on the sideline to keep an injured right hamstring loose while the offense was on the field.

Leron Eaddy rushed for a touchdown and quarterback Luke Hostetler passed for two more scores, leading No. 2 River Hill to an easy victory as it won its second consecutive state title and increased its winning streak to 28 games before 5,606 at M&T Bank Stadium.

"What you saw tonight was probably one of our best games," River Hill Coach Brian Van Deusen said. "It says a lot about the kids. A lot of teams, if they lose their star player -- a player a lot of people consider the best in the state -- most teams are going to feel a big effect."

Not that Campanaro didn't contribute. While he "tweaked" his hamstring when practicing for the first time this week on Friday, he and Van Deusen made the decision to try playing safety because that would be easier on his leg. Instead of constantly going all out on each snap, Campanaro generally plays deep on defense and only accelerates when he needs to make a play. And there were plenty of opportunities for that.

Campanaro made several tackles and intercepted two passes. The first, when he pulled up easy after a 27-yard return late in the third quarter, set up Hostetler's 12-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Johnson that made it 24-0. On Eastern Tech's next offensive play, Campanaro made his eighth interception of the season and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown that all but ensured victory.

"I was nervous [about being able to play] coming into the game, but I knew it was going to be loose, with the adrenaline because it was a big game," Campanaro said. "I was surprised it held up well. It bothered me sometimes, but it was okay."

River Hill (14-0) again was dominant, completing a season in which it never trailed. Eastern Tech (13-1) avoided a shutout by scoring on the game's final play.

Malek Redd got much of Campanaro's work and finished with 62 yards on 19 carries and added two catches for 65 yards. Redd's 50-yard touchdown catch down the middle gave the Hawks a 17-0 lead early in the third quarter. Eaddy, who had played sparingly on offense in recent weeks because of a fractured rib and sprained ankle, rushed five times for 31 yards and caught two passes for 33 yards. Hostetler completed 5 of 9 passes for 110 yards. Senior Ryan Griffin rushed for 77 yards on 10 carries.

"Obviously Mike is a key player, but it was something we had to block out -- with or without Mike we had to play," Eaddy said. "I think that made the team more fired up and focused to play."

Over the past three seasons, River Hill is 41-1, the lone loss coming in the 2006 state final to Friendly. Van Deusen noted that the members of his senior class who played two seasons on the junior varsity and two seasons on the varsity never lost a game, going 48-0.

"No doubt this is the best team win we've had the past two years," Hostetler said. "We definitely came together as a team. That's huge."