WORTON — A new playoff format that doubles the number of qualifiers in each region is extending Kent County’s football season by at least a week.
The Trojans (4-5) will travel to Perryville (5-4) tomorrow night for a first-round game in the 1A East Region. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Kent is playoff-bound for the first time since 2016, when it won a region crown and punched its ticket to the state semifinals.
Dave Boyle was an assistant coach on the 2016 team that upset Bohemia Manor and Cambridge on the way to a region championship. This is his first postseason as a head coach.
“Perryville is a lot like us, a couple of kids with speed, a couple of kids with size,” Boyle said.
Any prediction for Friday night?
“It’s going to be cold,” Boyle said of a forecast for snow in some parts of the mid-Atlantic.
He believes that other than top-seeded Cambridge (7-2), the 1A East is “pretty open.”
Cambridge will host No. 8 seed Havre de Grace (2-7).
The other first-round pairings on Friday night send No. 7 seed Joppatowne (3-6) to No. 2 seed Patterson Mill (6-3) and No. 5 Fallston (4-5) to No. 4 Colonel Richardson (5-4).
Kent is coming off a 21-0 loss to 2A Parkside (8-1) here on Nov. 1, which was its Senior Night.
The score is not representative of the Trojans’ hard-nosed effort, according to Boyle. He said they played their best four quarters of the season.
“Winning the game would have been incredible, but this keeps us hungry,” said Boyle. “Instead of saying, ‘Look what we did last week’ and being comfortable, we’re saying, ‘Look what we almost did last week.”
The Trojans followed the script that Boyle and his staff had come up with to try to contain the highly regarded Rams, who take an eight-game winning streak into their region tourney.
The Trojans were deliberate on offense, which is a generous way of saying they milked the clock. One drive in the first half ate up about 5 minutes, though there were only two first downs.
Kent totaled 155 yards of offense, with a good chunk of that on the ground. Will Ashmore (nine carries) had 50 of the team’s 109 rushing yards.
Thomas Goldsborough completed three of seven passes for 46 yards. Taylor Lyons had all three catches.
The Trojans’ best scoring chance came in the first half on a drive that stalled at the 8-yard line. “It was a little difficult to find the cracks and spaces as we got closer to the goal line,” Boyle said.
Defensively, Kent did everything it could to prevent Parkside from running the ball. Linebacker Kolby Walters (seven tackles, four assists) was the field general, communicating with the coaches on the sideline.
Boyle said the soft field after heavy rain the night before also was a help, slowing down the Rams and taking away their “push advantage.”
Parkside scored on its second possession, a 2-yard touchdown run by Alijah Bivans with 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter.
A couple of deep passes from quarterback Anthony Sarbanes set up the other Rams’ touchdowns — a 35-yard pass to Rashir Evans for a catch-and-run score of 70 yards late in the third quarter and a 33-yard completion to Malachi Mazzetti that preceded a 7-yard Malachi Jones touchdown in the fourth quarter.