2019 Baltimore Metro High School Football: Previewing The MPSSAA
The 2019 MPSSAA season brings change, by expanding the post-season, and doubling the amount of teams receiving playoff berths from 64 to 128. In addition, teams will be re-seeded following the second round, allowing for the possibility of two teams from the same region meeting in the state title game.
Franklin looks to be the top public school team in the Baltimore area, though it’s road to a repeat gets a bit more slicker, as Damascus moves up from 2A, while North Point, the ‘18 4A runner-up, moves down to 3A, as does ‘18 4A North regional champion Mervo, who join the Indians and Dundalk in the 3A North region. Long Reach and River Hill project to be the top units in the 3A East.
In 4A, Howard has been the area’s top team over the last handful of years, though Mervo snapped the Lions four year run of the 4A North last season. This season, Anne Arundel’s Broadneck and Arundel look to be the area’s top 4A teams, and Parkville replaces both the Lions, now in the 4A Wast, and the Mustangs, now in the 3A North, as the top team(s) in the area in the 4A North.
In the 2A classification, Liberty looks to be one of the top ‘dawgs’, if not ‘the top dawg’ in the West, while Milford Mill, escapes Franklin in the 3A North, and inserts itself in the 2A North, along with New Town and Eastern Tech, among others. Glenelg, the ‘18 2A runner-up, should be a factor in the West region, alongside the Lions of Liberty.
In 1A, Dunbar and Havre de Grace may be the area’s top teams in the lowest classification, as they have been in recent history, but both the Poets and Warriors will be hard pressed to find the post-season success of their predecessors of the last handful of years.
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Coach Anthony Burgos Franklin Indians have been the cream of the crop in Baltimore County for the last decade, and things project to stay the same this year, though their post-season slate may get a little thicker. The Indians 13 consecutive playoff appearances is the fifth longest streak in MPSSAA history.
Last year, the Indians became just the second school (Seneca Valley ‘77-80, ‘92-94) in MPSSAA history to win three 3A state titles in six seasons. Coach Burgos’ Indians have been the winningest program in the Baltimore area over the last 7 years, winning 75 games.
This season’s Indians have a talented cast, though they lost two-way stalwarts Elijah Solomon and Jay Thompson, along with Robert Garrett, from their state championship team.
Both Franklin and Milford Mill return their starting quarterbacks, and both are pre-season favorites within their region – the Indians in the 3A North, the Millers in the 2A North.
A look at the county’s top teams;
Franklin (12-2, 6-1) >>> The Indians return Mekai Felton (Fordham commit) and Xavier Cokley (JMU commit), both who made key contributions to last year’s title team. Felton caught 3 receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown in the state title win, while Cokley led the Indians in passes defended, with 16.
Vernon Brown returns at quarterback after throwing for more than 1,800 yards and 18 touchdowns, as does kicker Simon Spath, who kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired in the state championship game. Two-year captain and two-way lineman Isaiah Lewis returns, while junior defensive back Daymon David is garnering major college looks.
The Indians, who opened with Wise in ‘11 and ‘12, Calvert Hall In ‘13 and ‘14, McDonogh In ‘15 and ‘16, then a pair of week 2 meetings with DeMatha in ‘17 and ‘18, take on a relative gauntlet of a schedule again, heading to Long Island to take on St Anthony’s in week 1, followed by a trip to McDonogh, then hosting Dundalk, before going to Milford Mill, all while leaving a matchup with Mt St Joe in week 8.
Milford Mill (9-2, 6-1) >>> Coach Reggie White’s Millers split their two games with the state champion Indians last season, and had a great opportunity for a sweep, before falling just short to their league rivals in the regional semifinal.
Junior quarterback Rishon Holmes returns, following a season where he threw for 1,432 yards and 21 touchdowns, while adding 691 rushing yards and four scores on the ground. The talented Jordan Morant joins Holmes in the backfield.
Morant rushed for 470 yards and 8 touchdowns playing behind Desmond Shell last season, adding 58 tackles on the other side of the ball. Holmes’ top target in ‘18, Tyree Sheppard (21-406-5), returns. The defense, who lost 3-year starting linebacker Kevin Neal and tackle Darius Woods, does return defensive end Makai Booker, linebacker Khalil Scott, lineman Shawn Lewis, and defensive back Isaiah Craig (3 int).
Dundalk (10-2, 8-1) >>> The Owls reached the 2018 3A North regional final, following a 26-20 win over Edgewood, and preceding being on the wrong side of a 42-7 rout at the hands of Franklin. The Owls 10 wins in ‘18 doubled their ‘17 total of 5 victories.
The Owls lost running back Ronnie Brown to graduation, but has quarterback Treshawn Ray returning, along with wide receiver-cornerback Malik Lindsey, plus linemen Joe Delveccio and Marcus Barry.
New Town (10-3, 6-1) >>> The Titans advanced to the 2A state semifinals last season, after two hard fought wins over Edmondson and Eastern Tech, before a 35-0 loss to Glenelg in the final four. The regional title was the second in school history, after finishing as runner-up in 2012.
Coach Mike Savage’s Titans allowed just one touchdown or less in 9 of their 13 games last season. Returning for the Titans are brothers Daron and Darius Broach, both two-way skill players, as well as U Mass commit Gerrell Johnson, and quarterback Shawn Miller.
Woodlawn (7-3, 4-3) >>> Coach Elwood Townsend’s Warriors missed out on a playoff berth last year, with a 14-12 loss to Towson, but did post a win over eventual regional champion New Town, 16-6. The Warriors have won 12 of their last 16 games, dating back to the 2017 season.
The Warriors earned their last playoff berth in 2009, with their last post-season victory coming in 2003. The Warriors feature a pair of talented running backs in Zamia Renwick and Jabar Gainer.
Parkville (3-6, 2-4) >>> After going 13-6 in ‘16 and ‘17, the ‘18 Knights hit a stumbling block, finishing 3-6. Together with a handful of key 3-year starters, and a schedule that doesn’t include Franklin, Milford Mill, Dundalk or New Town, the Knights may grab a top 4 seed in the 4A North.
Knights Coach Justin Payne is enthusiastic about this year’s campaign, with the returning leadership of running back-defensive back Noah Hambrick, the Knights MVP the last two years, and 3-year starting lineman Emmanuel Anokute.
Kenwood (6-4, 3-4) who. will have to battle Franklin, Mervo, and Dundalk in the 3A North, features defensive back Daymon Duncan.
Eastern Tech (10-2, 6-1) and Hereford (7-3, 5-2) will compete with Milford Mill in the 2A North. The Mustangs, who have made post-season appearances in 11 of the last 16 years, boast running back Omar Parker. The Bulls, the one-time, long-time county power, won their last regional title in 2009.
Perry Hall (5-4, 4-3) joins Parkville in the 4A North.
Games to watch; WK1 – Franklin at St Anthony’s NY, New Town at Milford Mill; WK2 Franklin at McDonogh, Concordia Prep at Dundalk; WK3 Dundalk at Franklin, Eastern Tech at Milford Mill; WK4 Franklin at Milford Mill, Douglass PG at Dundalk; WK5 Woodlawn at Dundalk; WK8 Franklin at Mt St Joe; WK9 New Town at Eastern Tech, Woodlawn at Franklin, Parkville at Kenwood
The Dunbar Poets have been the flag bearer for the City league since joining the MPSSAA in 1994, almost exclusively. The Poets have won 10 state titles, trailing only Seneca Valley, who has won 12, its last in 2002. The Screamin’ Eagles won 7 of their titles before the Poets even joined the MPSSAA.
The Poets are 10-2 in the state title game, while the rest of the city league hold a 1-4 record in the state final, with Edmondson winning it all in 2A in 2006. Dunbar is 20-3 in the quarterfinal/ regional final round, while its city league colleagues are 23-46, collectively.
Mervo, who has been a player in the 4A North for the last handful of years, winning its first regional title last year, moves to the 3A North this season, battling the likes of Franklin, Dundalk, Woodlawn and Edgewood.
Dunbar will be a favorite in the 1A North, but state champion is the only title the Poets strive for at this point. After winning 7 of 9 1A state titles from ‘04-12, the Poets have won just one of the last six, with cross-state rival Fort Hill winning the other five.
A look at Charm City’s finest;
Dunbar (11-1, 7-0) >>> The Poets 11-1 season in 2018 would qualify as outstanding for most, but not for the 10-time state champs, who failed to capture a regional title for only the second time in 17 years., losing to Douglass PG, 20-6, in the regional semi-finals.
Coach Lawrence Smith’s Poets have made 17 straight playoff appearances, the last dozen under Smith, the second longest current streak (Damascus, 21) in the MPSSAA, and the third longest (Damascus, Old Mill, 18 – ‘99-16) in the history of the MPSSAA.
Coach Smith’s six state titles and 10 regional titles both rank above all current coaches. The Poets, whose cache of playmakers and quality lineman has diminished a bit over the last half dozen years as compared to their high achieving predecessors, will rely on its defense, led by linebacker Deon Crews-Harris and lineman Joshua Carr. Junior quarterback Derrick Dunn will lead the offense.
Mervo (11-2, 6-1) >>> After earning its first post-season victory in 2016 in its seventh playoff appearance, the Mustangs won their first regional championship in school history last season, capturing the 4A North title, before falling to North Point in the state semifinal, 23-13. The Mustangs are 44-11 over the last five years under Coach Patrick Nixon. Mervo will battle in the 3A North this season, with the likes of Franklin and Dundalk, among others.
All three of the ‘Stangs post-season victories have come in the last three years – Sherwood in ‘16, Howard and Paint Branch last season. Coach Nixon’s Mustangs will be led by quarterback Kevin Kimbrough, skill players Tyree Williams and Jarrett Gasque, as well as linebacker-defensive end standout, Xavier Shell.
Edmondson (8-3, 5-2) >>> The Red Storm made its 11th post-season appearance in 15 years last season, before suffering a 1 point loss to New Town in the regional semifinal, 13-12. ‘The Storm’ will be led by two-way standout Daniel Frink, who will line up in the backfield and at linebacker, defensive back Xavier Johnson, running back Joshua Bright, and receiver Barry Jones.
Lake Clifton (9-2, 8-0) >>> The Lakers had their best regular season in years last season, going 9-1, with its only loss to regional 1A power Havre de Grace, before falling to Lewis, 14-6, in the opening round of the post-season.
City College (3-7, 2-5) will look for its first playoff appearance in five years in the 3A North, with the expanded format.
Patterson (4-5, 2-4), who has made 12 of its 14 playoff appearances in 4A, see Milford Mill and New Town ahead of them in the 2A North.
Games to watch; WK1 Mervo at Dunbar; WK5 Mervo at Edmondson; WK8 Dunbar at Edmondson; WK9 City v Poly
Howard’s 4-year (share w/ River Hill In ‘17, both 9-0) reign atop the county came to an end last year, with 2A runner-up Glenelg taking the county crown. The Gladiators earned their first title game berth in school history, while their +29.8 point differential ranks 8th best in county history.
Two of MPSSAA’s best running backs over the last three years have moved on, in Glenelg’s Wande Owens, who finished his illustrious career as the MPSSAA’s 2nd all-time leading rusher, with 6,354 yards, and Howard’s Devin Dawkins, who finishing as HoCo’s 4th all-time leading rusher (4,443), and 3rd all-time in touchdowns scored, with 74.
Glenelg also replaces Coach Butch Schaffer, whose .709 win percentage ranks tied for 4th best in county history, tied with former Howard Coach Bruce Strunk, and trailing only River Hill’s Brian Van Deuesen and a pair of Hall of Famers, Doug DuVall, Wilde Lake’s legendary coach, and Bill Caudill, the former 4-star General of the Howard Lions dominant early 70’s teams.
Though no county title will be awarded this season, look for Long Reach, River Hill and Glenelg to all possibly reach a quarterfinal. Howard, in a bit of a rebuild, faces a tough slate, in addition to facing the Lightning, Hawks and Gladiators, go to South Hagerstown, then to Loyola, before hosting Sherwood.
Glenelg (13-1, 10-0) >>> Tim Cullen, a former assistant under Schaffer, takes over at the helm for the Gladiators. The Gladiators will be hard pressed to match last year’s run, which was led by Owens, who scored 82 touchdowns from scrimmage over his career, most in county history, and 86 touchdowns overall, three behind Mike Campanaro for best in county history. The Gladiators will battle with Liberty, Oakdale and Middletown, among others, in the 2A West.
The Gladiators do return running back Kyle Day, who averaged 8 yards a carry last year, complimenting Owens. Two-way, tight end- linebacker Drew Sotka and lineman Keith Pak will be counted on as leaders. Linebacker Trodden Bovella will bolster the defense, and kicker Chris Retzbach could be a difference maker. The Glads have won four regional titles in the last five years.
Long Reach (7-4, 7-3) >>> The Lightning have made three straight post-season appearances, winning a 3A regional title in ‘17, its first in school history, after a 10 year playoff drought from ‘06-15. The Bolts look to battle with River Hill for the top two seeds in the 3A East, with Westminster, Wilde Lake, Marriotts Ridge and Reservoir joining them.
The Lightning return one of the top receivers of 2018, junior Chris Martin, who recorded 50 receptions for 742 yards and 9 touchdowns, setting school records in receptions and touchdown receptions. Incumbent starter Jose Ribalta and Eric Benesch are battling for the quarterback position, to lead the talented skill players of Long Reach.
The running game was bolstered by River Hill transfer Jordan Perry taking his talents to Dobbin Road. Elijah Saunders will be a key contributor, at the tight end and defensive end positions, while his younger brother, sophomore Julius, should provide punch in both the backfield, and back seven.
River Hill (8-4, 7-3) >>> After winning 8 regional titles in 9 years, the Hawks look for their first in six years. The abundance of talent that once propelled the Hawks on Clarksville Pike from ‘05-13 isn’t there, but the coaching still is. Coach Brian Van Deusen, who ranks 2nd all-time in county history in wins, with 183, also ranks 2nd among current MPSSAA coaches in wins, as he enters his 20th season.
The Hawks do return arguably (rather easily) the best safety in the MPSSAA in Maryland commit Beau Brade (‘18 126 tackles), who has been laying down the hits in August. Brade, a two-time All-County 1st team selection, will be counted on to do a lot, and even more with the transfer of running back Jordan Perry to Long Reach. Linebacker Zach Igwebe adds to Brade’s riches on defense.
Howard (8-2, 8-1) moves from the MoCo dominated – with a splash of Mervo, 4A North, to the AACo dominated 4A East, headlined by Arundel and Broadneck. Coach Ross Hannon heads into his third year with the Lions, though the first without the electrifying Dawkins. The Lions, who face a relative tough schedule, may open the playoffs on the road for the first time in six years, and if not for the expanded playoff format, would have faced a real challenge to earn its 7th straight appearance.
Wilde Lake (6-4, 6-4) last won a regional title in 2010, when the Cats won their sixth state championship in school history, under Doug DuVall’s longtime assistant, Mike Harrison, who stepped down this off-season. The Cats also lost Osita Smith to Morgantown, at the next level.
Oakland Mills (7-4, 7-3) returns dual threat quarterback Kai Castle, who threw for 1,154 yards and 14 touchdowns, while adding 971 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.
Marriotts Ridge (4-6, 4-6), who started ‘18 at 3-0, outscoring their opponents 108-6, struggled down the stretch, in large part due to losing sophomore Kameron Young, who had rushed for 595 yards in 4+ games, to injury. Young is ineligible this year, but the Mustangs do return their first FBS commit in school history, d-end, tight end-combo, Nick Harris (UConn). Sophomore Casey Pung takes over at quarterback.
Reservoir (4-6, 4-6) looks to get back in the playoff mix, as is re-tooled Atholton (2-8, 2-8).
HoCo’s headliners; WK1 Long Reach at Woodlawn, Oakdale at Wilde Lake; WK2 Howard at South Hagerstown, Smyrna DE at Glenelg; WK3 Howard at Loyola; WK4 Sherwood at Howard; WK5 Howard at Glenelg, River Hill at Wilde Lake,; WK6 Howard at Wilde Lake; WK7 Glenelg at River Hill, Wilde Lake at Long Reach; WK8 Wilde Lake at Glenelg, Long Reach at Howard; WK9 Glenelg at Long Reach, Howard at River Hill, Oakland Mills at Wilde Lake
Anne Arundel County
Anne Arundel lost a plethora of three and four year quality performers to the 2019 graduating class, including a record-breaking receiver, and several others that led their teams to regional title games.
Ethan Williams is now at Boston College, but not before littering record books with his name, after three years of leading the Broadneck Bruins. The Bruins also saw three-time 1,000 yard back Jason Carcamo graduate, as well as three-year starting linebacker Matt McAllister, and three-year starting linemen Colin Shepard, Peyton Stickle, and Luis Del Rosario.
South River, who stunned Broadneck in the regional semifinal, saw both Joey Foy and Ka’Ron Lewis matriculate, while regional champion Chesapeake must replace quarterback Dylan Young, who threw 21 touchdowns last season, as well as defensive back Russell Teague. Annapolis running back Ahmad Middleton moved on, as did Panthers lineman Eric White.
Chris Leslie finished his North County 4-year career with more than 3,500 rushing yards and 5,000 total yards.Arundel lost one half of the top receiving duo of 2018, RJ Chandler, who grabbed 69 receptions for 898 yards and 12 touchdowns in ‘18.
Broadneck and Arundel, despite their losses, should be the top two favorites in the 4A East, with the return of their starting quarterbacks, sophomore Josh Erlich of the Bruins, and senior Austin Slye of the Cats. Anne Arundel County teams have won a total of 5 state championships, all in 4A, three in the last 40 years, and just two in the last 24 years (Old Mill ‘09, ‘12).
Broadneck (10-1, 10-0) >>> Erlich returns after posting one of the best freshman passing campaigns in MPSSAA history, throwing for 2.112 yards and 35 touchdowns, 22 to Williams, who finished 3rd all-time in MPSSAA history in receptions (196), 4th in receiving yards (3,222), and set the MPSSAA all-time record for touchdown receptions, with 53.
Despite the loss of Williams, Erlich does see the return of another favorite target, Andre Woods, who recorded 41 receptions for 745 yards and 8 touchdowns. Linebacker Josh Cain leads the defense. The Bruins have made six straight post-season appearances, including finishing with three undefeated regular seasons with n that span, including the last two years.
The Bruins have won 20 straight games versus Anne Arundel County opponents, and hold a 53-7 record over the last five years. With the amount of talent lost, the Bruins quest for its first state title looks to be an uphill battle, with 4A ‘super squads’ – Quince Orchard, Northwest, and Wise, among the major obstacles in their way. The Bruins open up at Potomac, with a date with Old Mill In week 2.
Arundel (9-2, 8-1) >>> The Wildcats return the gun-slinging Slye, who led the MPSSAA in completions, with 256, passing yards, with 2,851, while finishing fourth in passing touchdowns, with 28. Slye, who led the Cats to a 42.1 scoring average in the regular season, also rushed for 561 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Though Slye loses Chandler to graduation, junior Petey Tucker returns, after registering 62 receptions for 742 yards and 8 touchdowns, scoring 12 touchdowns in all. Senior Jordan Andrews leads the running game.
The Cats last post-season win was in 2014, and captured their last regional title in 2008. The Cats open up with North Point In week 1, and close out at Broadneck In week 9.
South River (7-5, 6-4) >>> The Seahawks shocked Old Mill In week 10 of last season, 34-19, to earn a playoff berth, and in turn, eliminate the Patriots. Led by Joey Foy (‘18 1,494 rushing yards) and two-time All-County 1st team selection Ka’Ron Lewis, the ‘Hawks stunned Broadneck, 28-21, in the 4A East regional semifinal.
Old Mill (5-5, 5-4) >>> The Patriots have failed to make the post-season in each of the last two seasons, after 18 straight trips from ‘99 through ‘16, which is the 2nd longest streak in MPSSAA history, behind only Damascus’ current run of 21. The Pats will be led by two-way, tight end-linebacker, Tre Thomas, junior running back-linebacker Joey Graves, and senior linemen Stephen Nisewaner and Ayden Grim.
Annapolis (5-5, 5-4) >>> The Panthers have gone 9-11 over the last two seasons, after a 11-2 regional championship team in 2016. All-County linebacker Deon Hunt will lead the Panthers, with the loss of Middleton and White.
Meade (4-6, 4-6) >>> Mustangs Coach Mike Francis comes back to his alma mater, trading in the hardwoods at Old Mill for the gridiron at Meade. Francis, who once played for Hall of Famer Chuck Markiewicz, was an assistant for his former coach at North County when the Knights won the 4A state title in 1994. Francis also assisted former Meade coach, Hall of Famer Jerry Mears.
Chesapeake (9-4, 4-3) collapsed in the 2018 ‘Dena Bowl’ (28-27, after leading 27-7), but then knocked out its arch rival Northeast, 38-13, in the regional semifinal. The Cougars will look to Alonzo Wilkes to be a playmaker.
Northeast (7-4, 6-3) made the post-season for the first time since 2001 last season. Quarterback Billy Katzenberger returns for the Eagles, as does running back- linebacker Ethan Young, and running back- defensive back Jayden Mason.
Games to watch; WK1 North Point at Arundel, Broadneck at Potomac, Douglass PG at Old Mill, Annapolis at Meade, South River at Westminster; WK2 Broadneck at Old Mill, Meade at South River; WK3 Old Mill at Meade; WK4 South River at Arundel; WK5 Broadneck at Meade; WK6 Old Mill at Arundel; WK7 South River at Broadneck; WK8 Old Mill at South River; WK9 Arundel at Broadneck, Chesapeake at Northeast
The Liberty Lions made a great run last year, finishing with a 10-0 regular season, before falling to eventual state champion Oakdale in the regional semifinal. The Lions led 14-0, before the 14-0 Bears scored 38 unanswered points.
Carroll County still searches for its first state title in its 46th season in the MPSSAA, with just three state finalists to show – Westminster ‘76, ‘05, South Carroll ‘05.
Liberty will battle Oakdale, Glenelg and Middletown, for the top spot in the 2A West, while Westminster will compete in the 3A East, along the likes of River Hill and Long Reach, among others, for the top spot in that region.
Liberty (10-1, 6-0) >>> The Lions have won 18 of their last 19 games versus Carroll County competition. The Lions have made three straight playoff appearances, with three first-round exits. The Lions have one post-season victory (‘14) in school history.
Coach Larry Luthe, who guided the Lions to that win, is 44-21 in six seasons at Liberty.
Quarterback Nathan Kent is back, after throwing for 1,511 yards and 22 touchdowns, while adding 648 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. Three-time All-County linebacker McClain Butler returns, after recording 123 tackles and 10 sacks during his junior campaign. Kyle Hutchison will be a target for Kent, while assisting Butler on the defensive side of the ball.
Westminster (8-4, 5-2) >>> The Owls have made three straight post-season appearances, and knocked out South Hagerstown in ‘18 in the regional semifinal, before being dispatched by eventual 3A runner-up Linganore in the regional final.
The Owls graduated quarterback Christian Etchison, who threw for 176 yards per game in ‘18, and while passing for 16 touchdowns in 9 contests. In addition to the loss of Etchison, the Owls lost playmakers Arabian Montgomery and Jaden Louis. The Owls return All-County lineman Patrick Almony and All-County kicker Evan Warren.
Century (6-5, 4-2) made its fourth playoff appearance in school history in ‘18, before getting routed by Damascus in the regional semifinal. The Knights All-County lineman Andy Christian returns for his senior season. South Carroll (5-5, 3-3) also boasts a returning All-County lineman in Mike Crown.
Keep an eye out for; WK1 Linganore at Liberty, South River at Westminster; WK2 Liberty at Walkersville, Westminster at Linganore; WK4 Glenelg at Westminster; WK8 Westminster at Liberty
UCBAC – Harford and Cecil counties
Despite having three of the more successful post-season teams in the history of the MPSSAA in its conference – Havre de Grace, Elkton and Joppatowne, the last UCBAC members to win a state title dates back 2003, when both Aberdeen (2A) and Joppatowne (1A) won state crowns.
Havre de Grace has made 23 post-season appearances, which ranks tied for 6th best in MPSSAA history, while the three-time state champ Warriors’ 15 regional titles ranks 7th best all-time. The Warriors 32 post-season wins rank tied for 7th in MPSSAA history.
Two-time state champion Elkton is 1 of 15 MPSSAA teams to make 20 playoff appearances, and is just 1 of 16 to win at least 11 regional titles. Joppa’ is 1 of 20 MPSSAA teams with at least 22 post-season victories, and 1 of 16 with 11 regional championships.
A glance at the UCBAC’s best;
Elkton (10-3, 5-2) >>> The Golden Elks were 2A regional champions last year, knocking off Harford Tech and North Caroline in the regionals, before getting extinguished by eventual state champion Oakdale.
The Golden Elks return their prime-time passer, Nolan Null, who threw for 2,737 yards, which ranked 2nd in the MPSSAA in ‘18, and 34 touchdowns, also 2nd in the state among public school passers last year. Michael Vass, who registered 40 receptions for 746 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, rejoins Null as his top target. Vass tied for fourth most touchdown receptions in the MPSSAA ‘18, and 10th in receiving yards.
Running back Tashawn Watters, who scored 11 touchdowns last season, adds to the Golden Elks firepower. Defensive lineman John Mobley and linebacker Kyree Stephens lead the defense. Kicker Jake Bosler is one of the best in the state.
Harford Tech (9-2, 6-1) >>> The Cobras made their first post-season appearance in school history in 2017, advancing to the state semifinals, and returned to the playoffs last year, before bowing out to Elkton, 21-14, in a regional semifinal. The Cobras and Elks look to be among the top 3 in the 2A East, along with North Caroline.
The Cobras have quarterback Ryan Hunt back, after throwing for 17 touchdowns against 1 interception in last year’s campaign, while adding 10 rushing touchdowns. Joining Hunt are tight end Curtis McKissette and receiver TJ Lowery. Linebacker Khoury Harris will lead the Cobras defense. Kicker Tyler Long is a threat.
Edgewood (9-2, 7-0) >>> The Rams were the top team in the UCBAC last year, but lose cousins Antoine Banks and Diante Banks, who combined for more than 4,000 yards of offense and accounted for 55 touchdowns in ‘18. Edgewood has Mervo joining themselves, Franklin and Dundalk in the 3A North.
The Rams, who lost to Dundalk, 26-20, in the ‘18 3A regional semifinal, has routed Havre de Grace in each of the last two seasons, 36-7 and 41-14, respectively. The Rams return linebacker Mason Putney and outside skill player Keyon Brown.
Havre de Grace (10-3, 5-2) has many shoes to fill, including those of quarterback Alex Gresock, but they do return playmaker Jaylen Day. The Warriors have posted four straight 10-win seasons and won four straight regional titles. Rising Sun (7-3, 5-2) was the only team to give Harford Tech a loss last season, and will battle alongside the likes of the Elks and Cobras in the 2A East.
Games to keep an eye on; WK2 Elkton at Edgewood; WK4 Edgewood at Harford Tech, Havre de Grace at Elkton; WK5 Oakdale at Elkton, Havre de Grace at Edgewood; WK7 New Town at Edgewood, Rising Sun at Bohemia Manor; WK9 Elkton at Harford Tech
Tomorrow we will preview the area’s best Private schools.
Willie, a native of Chicago, and now a resident of Columbia for 40 years, is an educator at Homewood Center in Howard County, after spending 12 years as a real estate agent, following 10 years of running a small men’s retail company. Willie has contributed to Max Preps, Digital Sports, and Varsity Sports Network. Willie has produced MPSSAA top 25 rankings for both football and basketball for 15 years, across various platforms. From a large ‘sports family’, Willie’s brother Mike led Reservoir High to the 3A basketball state title game in 2018, while his nephew Anthony serves as the Indianapolis Colts College Scouting Coordinator.