BALTIMORE — A year ago, Devin Butler sat in a purple seat at M&T Bank Stadium and watched Douglass fall to Middletown in the Maryland 2A football final. On Saturday, the freshman quarterback was on the field with the same stakes, battling the Knights in an attempt to land the Upper Marlboro school’s first state title.
On the state’s largest stage, Butler alternated flashes of brilliance with reminders of his youth in a 30-12 loss to Middletown. Seventh-ranked Douglass spotted Middletown 16 points and couldn’t recover as the Knights beat the Eagles in the final for the second straight season and closed out their first perfect campaign with their 22nd straight victory.
“I see how it feels to lose now, and I don’t ever want to feel it again,” said Butler, who finished with 172 passing yards and a touchdown and led the team in rushing but completed only seven of his 27 pass attempts. “It’s a bad feeling crying when somebody else is cheering, so I’m just going to make adjustments for next year.”
Douglass (12-2) started strong on defense, allowing two first downs and no points in the opening quarter, but Coach J.C. Pinkney’s triple-option attack struggled to move the ball consistently and Middletown wore down the Eagles with a power running game and timely passing.
The Knights (14-0) broke the stalemate on junior Tim Pirrone’s 10-yard touchdown pass to senior Sean Wenner early in the second quarter and continued to pile it on with an offense paced by senior running back Zach Welch, who needed 31 carries to pick up 125 yards and a touchdown.
Meantime, Butler threw incomplete on his first nine passes and Douglass’s only scoring threat in the first half ended with a blocked field goal attempt that appeared to become a Middletown touchdown until it was waved off by an inadvertent whistle during the play.
“We had a really good plan throughout the week,” Pinkney said, “and when you get here, you’ve got to execute it.”
Butler got on track after halftime, passing for a touchdown and rushing for another to make the score 23-12 in the final minute of the third quarter, but the Eagles never got any closer.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Monroe caught six passes for 163 yards and a touchdown, while Harris, a Tennessee recruit was held without a catch in his final game.
“It’s a great accomplishment [to play in another final] because nobody had us coming back,” said senior linebacker Matthew Paul, the team’s lone four-year varsity player. “We had a freshman quarterback who took the team on his back and led us here, and we just came up short.”