2019 Baltimore Metro High School Football: Previewing The Private Schools
Yesterday we previewed the area’s Public schools. Today our 2019 Baltimore Metro High School Football preview continues with a look at the area’s Private schools.
The Panthers are in a class by themselves. Literally and figuratively. The Baltimore juggernaut heads into September ranked as the #2 team in the country by Max Preps, with an opportunity to take the top spot in two weeks when they travel to Cali’ to take on the top ranked Mater Dei Monarchs.
The Panthers would have gladly took this national route last season, had its former colleagues in the MPSSAA carried their vendetta; sooner, rather than later. The members of the MIAA cited player safety as the reason for the refusal to compete against the Panthers, but by that time, most major players had their ‘18 schedules filled.
No matter how you slice it, the Panthers program has featured as much talent as any high school in the country over the last three-plus years, while posting a 35-2 record over that span. The Panthers went 2-11 in 2015, before Coach Biff Poggi’s crew migrated from Gilman.
The Panthers have 21 players either committed or received offers from Power 5 schools, headlined by Alabama commit Chris Braswell, the #1 ranked weak side defensive end in the country, LSU commit Jordan Toles, one of the best safeties in the country, cornerback Luke Hill, headed to Oregon next season, and Demeon Clooney, joining Toles at LSU next year. All four rank among the top 10 in the country at their position.
Running back Blake Corum and outside linebackers Osman Savage and Nikai Hill-Green, all Michigan commits, add to the Panthers riches. Defensive tackle Dominic Bailey, a Tennessee commit, and Pitt commit Michael Stratham, along with Michigan commit Micah Mazzccua, fortify the lines with 900 of quality pounds, between them. Add in juniors Aaron Willis and Clinton Burton, who both hold ‘Bama offers, and the vast amount of talent becomes ridiculous to calculate.
The Panthers opened the season in South Florida, trouncing then #15 Miami Central, 49-13, announcing its arrival in 2019. The Panthers raced out to a 23-0 lead before the Rockets moved the ball in St Frances territory.
Corum gained 155 yards from scrimmage and scored four touchdowns, sophomore quarterback John Griffith played solid, and the Panthers dominating defense thrived. The Rockets dropped to #23 in the Max Preps rankings, following the loss.
The Panthers followed the opening week blowout with a 55-0 blowout shutout of Simeon IL. Again, Corum scored four touchdowns, and the defense was impenetrable. Hill-Green returned an interception for a touchdown, Willis returned a fumble recovery for a touchdown, and a Luke Hill interception set up another score in the rout.
The Panthers head to Cali’ in two weeks to take on Mater Dei, in a national showdown, on the biggest stage any team from this area has ever seen. The Monarchs blew out perennial state power Centennial, 42-12, in their opener. Two weeks following their marquee matchup in Cali, the Panthers travel to New Jersey, to take on regional power St Joseph’s Regional, who went to Cali’ and knocked off J Serra in its opener, 24-13.
If the Panthers are able to survive and advance through September unblemished, USA Today #6 IMG awaits October 18th, possibly the last obstacle on the their paved road to a national title.
In ‘18, the Panthers became the sixth Maryland team to finish ranked among the top 10 in the country in USA Today’s final poll, joining their ‘17 team, DeMatha’s ‘86 and ‘16 teams, and Good Counsel’s ‘11 and ‘12 teams, finishing 4th, for a second year in a row.
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This will be year two of the newly re-vamped five team MIAA A division, a year after a thee-way tie at the top, with Calvert Hall, Mt St Joe and Spalding all finishing at 3-1 in league play.
This year, those three look as though they’ll battle for the league crown again, while McDonogh could shake things up with a win over either of the three.
The three-way tie occurred with Mt St Joe handing Calvert Hall its only loss of the season, 21-7, while the Cardinals knocked off Spalding, 35-21, and the Cavaliers coming back from a 23-0 halftime deficit to shock the Gaels, 28-25.
The Cardinals set a school record with 12 wins, and posted a season that ranks among the top 5 in the program’s 120 year history, behind its undefeated 11-0 ‘79 campaign, and the 11-1 2010 season, and with the 10-1 ‘02 season, and 10-2 ‘11 season. The Cardinals beat Spalding in the Christian Schools Invitational final, 35-21, scoring 28 second-half points.
Following a 58-6 loss to Good Counsel, Mt St Joe won 8 of its last 9 games in ‘18, including its decisive 21-7 win over Calvert Hall. Spalding battled Good Counsel to a 35-35 tie just two weeks before the Gaels debacle with the Falcons, and held a 21-14 halftime lead.
A look at MIAA 2019;
Mt St Joe (2-0, 0-0) >>> The Gaels came off a 9-2 season with two victories to begin the 2019 season, with a 35-20 victory over St Mary’s Ryken in the opener, followed by a 56-27 win over Holy Spirit NJ. Coach Rick Holzer, in his 5th year in Irvington, holds a 33-13 record at Mt St Joe.
In the opening week Lambert Cup win between the two Xavierian Brother schools, the Gaels offense unleashed over 500 yards of offense, with junior quarterback Billy Atkins (‘18 152-270-2743-35-3) throwing 21-35 for 320 yards and 3 touchdowns, with 3 interceptions, while Syracuse commit Marlowe Wax (‘18 138-1046-17) rushed for 216 yards and two scores on 19 carries.
Two of Atkins top three targets return for their junior campaigns, Dont’e Thornton (‘18 40-860-10) and Andre Crowley(‘18 36-565-6). Crawley caught 10 passes for 156 yards and a score in the win over Ryken, while Thornton added 3 receptions for 85 yards and two scores. Thornton holds offers from Penn St, Ohio St, Oregon, Michigan, and Maryland, among others.
In the win over Holy Spirit, Atkins three for 420 yards and two scores, while Wax scored four times, and gained 130 rushing yards on 15 carries. Holy Spirit took the opening kickoff to the house, before the Gaels ran (and threw) off 35 first-half points. The Gaels finished with 616 yards of offense.
The Gaels take on mighty Good Counsel this week, a year after taking their 52-point spanking from the hands of the Falcons. On the 28th of September, the Gaels face National Christian, who will almost assuredly appear among the top 10 in the 2019 Maryland Football Writers Media Poll that debuts this week, and boast more than a dozen players with major D1 offers.
The Gaels travel to Calvert Hall this year, and close league play hosting Spalding, with a matchup with 3A defending champ Franklin a week before the finale with the Cavs.
Spalding (7-3-1, 3-1) >>> The Cavaliers had a bit of a wild season in 2018, though they did settle for their first share of a MIAA A title in its program’s history, albeit it at 3-1. Coach Kyle Schmidt is 42-23-1 in his 6+ years in Severn.
The Cavaliers 2018 season began with a two day affair with Good Counsel, that began with a 8-0 lead on day 1, before the Falcons struck quick on day 2 with a flea-flicker, and before the Falcons came back to tie it at 35, only for the game to be called with 2:57 remaining, due to lightning and weather that would rule the season of 2018.
In the dramatic season finale with Mt St Joe, the Cavs Jayden Umbarger led an incredible comeback to register one of the biggest wins in the program’s history, to capture a share of the MIAA title. Umbarger ran for 111 yards and two scores, threw for 17 completions for 233 yards and a score, and caught the game-winning 4 yard shovel pass from Austin Tutas.
Umbarger has moved on, but the junior Tutas returns, after throwing for 1,128 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore, splitting snaps with Umbarger. Running back Shamar Smith and Maryland commit Jayon Venerable (‘18 119-683-6) will be keys to the Cavs offensive firepower. Jahmeer Carter, a 6’2 297 pound Virginia commit, will anchor the Cavaliers defensive line, while junior Zakee Wheatley figures to make plays all over the field, on both sides of the ball.
The Cavaliers pummeled Bishop McDevitt (Philadelphia), 56-0, in its opener, with Tutas throwing for 204 yards and four scores, and Smith rushing for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Wheatley caught a touchdown pass and picked off an interception, while Venerable ran for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass.
The Cavaliers take on a decent out-of-conference slate before starting league play, heading to Orlando to face Bishop Moore this week, followed by a road trio to Bullis, followed by a meeting with Good Counsel.
Calvert Hall (12-1, 3-1) >>> Donald Davis enters his 13th season with the Cardinals, a year after leading the Cards to an historic season in the program’s history, with a record-setting 12 wins.
The ‘18 Cavaliers won their last 7 games, including a 35-21 victory over Spalding in the Christian Schools Invitational final, then a 40-7 thrashing of arch rival Loyola in the ‘Turkey Bowl’.
Coach Davis’ record stands at 90-53 at Calvert Hall, and is the second winningest coach in school history, 10 wins behind Augie Miceli’s 100 victories. Davis’ troops have posted three of the program’s six 10-win seasons in its history, ranking #1 in the Baltimore Sun in 2010 with a 11-1 record, #2 in the 2011 with a 10-2 record, and again last year with their 12-1 mark.
The Cavaliers have begun their 2019 campaign with a pair of convincing victories, with a 44-20 win over Woodland Hills in Pittsburgh, then a 35-0 shutout of Pallotti. In the Wooldland Hills victory, the Cards responded to an opening pick-six score by scoring five straight touchdowns, leading to a 37-6 margin after three quarters. The Cards then dispatched of Pallotti, with Syracuse commit and Cards workhorse Sean Tucker rushing for three touchdowns.
Tucker will be the feature in the Cardinals offensive attack, but 6’3 receiver Cole Herbert will keep opponents honest, and will be the prime target for junior quarterback Amir Jenkins. The Cardinals held 10 of their 13 ‘18 opponents to two touchdowns or less, and will likely need a stout defense to fend off the firepower of St Joe and Spalding.
The Cardinals take on a very modest out-of-league schedule, and should head into MIAA play at 6-0. The Cards host both Mt St Joe and Spalding this season. The Cards will celebrate its 100th game with Loyola this Thanksgiving at Johnny Unitas Stadium, with the Dons holding a 49-42-8 series edge.
McDonogh (3-6, 1-3) >>> The Eagles enter year two under Head Coach Hakeem Sule, following the departure of 24 year coach Don Damico. Damico stepped away as the Eagles all-time winningest coach early last year, posting a 149-74 record, winning or sharing 8 MIAA A and B titles, and finishing as the Baltimore Sun’s #1 team in 2000 and 2013.
Sule’s squad looks to regroup from the program’s first losing season since 2012, though they lost to league tri-champions Mt St Joe and Calvert Hall by 4 and 6 points, respectively, and routed Gilman in the pair’s 103rd meeting, 33-8.
The Eagles are led by Curtis Jacobs, who is ranked as the #6 outside linebacker in the country by 24/7, and #85 player overall. Jacobs committed to Penn State in the Spring, picking Happy Valley over Gainesville, South Bend, Lincoln, Madison, among other popular college football destinations. The Eagles also offer three talented sophomores in Preston Howard, lineman Kwan Williams, and 6’6 250 defensive end Dani Dennis-Sutton, all who hold offers from Michigan.
The Eagles thrashed Malvern Prep PA in their 2019 opener, 34-13, and held the defending undefeated Philadelphia Inter-AC champs to only 93 yards of offense. The Eagles host Berks Catholic PA this week, Franklin the following week, then travel to Bullis, before league play.
Gilman (1-9, 0-4) >>> Things have seemed to hit rock bottom at Gilman, as the Greyhounds have gone 9-26 since the departure of Biff Poggi and Co. following the 2015 season, where they finished with a 10 game winning streak and a national top 25 ranking.
The once proud MIAA power has been outscored by 25.3 points per game in their 26 losses since the exodus, and 6 of their 9 (1-9) losses last year were by 25 points or more.
The Hounds started 2019 with promise, with a 47-18 opening week win over Riverdale Baptist, but that promise vanished with a 56-0 blowout loss to Loyola the following week.
The Hounds, led by third year coach Nick Bach, who came from Mountain View GA with a resume of success on the field, as well as success off the field, in the transfer portal, lost their four league games by an average of 31.3 points per game last season.
MIAA matchups of note; 9/7 Good Counsel at Mt St Joe; 9/13 Franklin at McDonogh, Bullis at Spalding; 9/20 Good Counsel at Spalding; 10/11 Mt St Joe at Calvert Hall; 10/18 Spalding at Calvert Hall; 10/26 Franklin at Mt St Joe; 11/2 Spalding at Mt St Joe, Gilman at McDonogh
Loyola (6-4) plays its second year of independent ball, after finishing with a winning record for the first time since 2010, when the Dons finished 6-5, two years after winning the MIAA title, going 11-0 in 2008. In ‘18, the Dons did face St Joe, Calvert Hall, and Gilman, getting shellacked by the Gaels and Cardinals by a total of 76 points, and beating Gilman.
Citing player safety and ‘level of play’, the Dons withdrew from the A division following the 2017 season. The Dons plastered Gilman in its 2019 opener, 56-0, and will face arch rival Calvert Hall for their 100th meeting on Thanksgiving Day. The Dons feature Quarterback Jordan Moore, who holds offers from Boston College and Syracuse, along with serious interest from several Ivy League schools. The Dons 2019 slate features Georgetown Prep, Howard, and Woodlawn, among others.
Pallotti (6-5, 5-1) should be the favorite in the MIAA B division, a year after sharing the regular season crown with St Mary’s, then losing 21-7 to the Saints in the title game. The Panthers feature a pair of UMass commits, cornerbacks Osei Dixon and Julian Ganthier, along with junior 3-star receiver Isaiah Perkins. St Mary’s (7-4, 5-1) and Archbishop Curley (2-8, 2-4) should contend, while Concordia Prep (9-3, 6-0), who jumps up from the no longer C division, should provide intrigue.
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.