BALTIMORE — Douglass senior Paul Harris didn’t have much time to work out with his teammates this summer as he completed a pair of classes that will enable him to enroll early at the University of Tennessee and get a head start on his college football career.
But when the 6-foot-4, 200-pound wide receiver could cram in a workout at the Upper Marlboro school, Coach J.C. Pinkney tried to make sure freshman quarterback Devin Butler was there to throw to him. In a Friday’s 34-20 win over Edmondson-Westside, that connection helped propel the ninth-ranked Eagles to their second consecutive Maryland 2A state title game.
Butler threw four touchdowns, including three to Harris, and rushed for another score as the Eagles rolled past the Red Storm in a state semifinal at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. Douglass (12-1) earned a rematch with Middletown (13-0) in next Saturday’s 2A final at M&T Bank Stadium after losing to the Knights, 43-6, in the game last fall.
“That’s my man,” Harris said of Butler. “I tell him before every game, ‘Let’s be a super star, Devin. Let’s do something that will make everybody remember us.’ Our bond has to be the tightest on the field.”
Since winning the starting job in preseason practice, Butler has been counted on to manage Pinkney’s triple-option attack. On Friday in a game the Eagles never trailed, he was effective through the air and on the ground, finishing 7 of 10 passing for 167 yards with 65 rushing yards on 19 carries.
In the offseason, Butler “showed me that he had the talent and the ability to do it,” Pinkney said. “The biggest thing was making sure that he could hold up on the contact end of it, but he’s a very tough kid, mentally tough. I’m really happy for him because things are really good for that kid right now.”
The 6-foot-2, 165-pound Butler started the scoring on a fluke pass play late in the first quarter when an underthrown ball slipped through a defender’s hands and turned into a 24-yard touchdown for senior Marc Dickens.
But the young signal-caller did most of his damage against Edmondson (11-2) looking to Harris. The Tennessee-bound senior scored on all three of his catches totaling 132 yards. He also drew a pass interference call near the goal line on another downfield attempt that set up his 12-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Early in the third quarter, Harris hauled in a deep pass between two defenders and cut back across the field for a 64-yard touchdown that made it 26-0 and put the Eagles well on their way back to the state title game.
“I can rely on him,” said Butler, who played on an 8th grade youth team with Harris’s brother Jeremiah last year. “If I put the ball anywhere, he goes to get it. Good passes and bad passes, he will find a way to possess the ball.”