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Ridley-Parkland: Battle of unbeatens

Both have big offenses, tough defenses.

When John Waller was asked what kind of game - high-scoring, low-scoring, etc. - he expected when his Ridley football team meets Parkland today in the PIAA Class AAAA state semifinals, the Green Raiders coach was noncommittal.

Although both teams have outscored the opposition by large margins - Ridley, 356-80, and Parkland, 459-64 - today's game at Allentown's J. Birney Crum Stadium features defenses that take pride in shutting out the opposition.

Parkland has posted six shutouts.

Ridley has four blankings, and allowed only one opponent to score more than 13 points in a single game.

Today's winner will advance to the state championship game at 7 p.m. next Saturday at HersheyPark Stadium.

Here is a quick look at the two teams:

On the record.

Both teams are unbeaten. District 11 champ Parkland is 14-0 and reached the semifinals by beating District 12 champion George Washington, 44-12. Ridley is 13-0 and shut out West Chester Henderson, 19-0, to win the District 1 crown.

Flying high.

At 6-foot-4, Parkland wide receiver Jaleel Clark will be a tall task for the Green Raiders secondary. A junior, Clark has caught 45 passes for 680 yards since being converted from running back this year. He started slowly in the Trojans' wing-T offense, but has been a big target for quarterback John Laub in recent games. Laub set a school record by throwing 20 TD passes, nine to Clark.

Welcome back.

Ridley quarterback Steven Egee gave up football last season to concentrate on basketball. He marked his return to football this year with a bang. The 6-2, 185-pound senior completed 124 of 183 attempts for 1,759 yards and 19 TDs. He has been intercepted six times.

Two-way bull.

Ridley senior Andrew Hodges has rushed for 1,709 yards and 24 touchdowns on 283 carries this season. He scored twice and racked up 153 yards against Henderson. He also is a defensive leader from his linebacker spot. When he tackled Henderson's Jabair Kahn for a 1-yard loss on the first play of the district final, Hodges set the tone for the game.

Sharing the job.

Parkland, which won the state title in 2002 behind power back Austin Scott, does not have a 1,000-yard rusher. The Trojans spread the work around, with senior Kevin Herod the leading rusher with 827 yards. Herod is a linebacker on defense.

Keep an eye on.

Two-way lineman Tony Agatslotis is only 5-8, 195 pounds, but he embodies Ridley's style of play with speed and quickness. Trojans linebacker Nate Zimmel enters the game with 82 solo tackles and 4.5 sacks.