Fourteen players from Prince George's County along with four county coaches were in Frostburg this week preparing for tomorrow night's Maryland High School Football All-Star Game. The game will be played at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium, with kickoff at 7:30 p.m.
All-stars from Maryland had played the best from Northern Virginia in an annual summer exhibition from 1993 to 2002, but last year the Maryland Football Coaches Association decided on a game composed solely of players from Maryland. It was Maryland's first intrastate all-star football game since 1975.
Prince George's County is by far the most well-represented county on the East team. Only Montgomery County has more all-stars (17 on the West squad).
"It's nice for a change to get to see the kids talking and playing with each other instead of talking trash to each other," said C.H. Flowers Coach Mike Mayo, who will head the East team with help from, among others, Nick Lynch (Suitland), Hameed Sharif (a C.H. Flowers assistant) and Tom Green (Surrattsville). "They all know each other for the most part, and they're pretty friendly. They're out there having fun. There's no animosity."
The players also are looking forward to teaming with those they lined up against in the fall.
"It's been great," former Gwynn Park linebacker Brandon Hawkins said. "During the season, you have to figure out how to stop some of these guys. Now you've got them on your team. I've seen so many players I've read about in the papers."
Forestville Coach Charles Harley said one of his former standouts, wide receiver Richard Abney, is excited to team up with former Potomac quarterback Harold Dorman, who has "the strongest arm in the state," Harley said.
"They hooked up for a few passes, including a touchdown" in the Prince George's County All-Star Game, he added. Abney is "looking forward to reestablishing that connection."
Harley said former Forestville defensive back Andre Jones is relishing the chance to match up with Jon Moravec, the All-Met wide receiver from Frederick County school Linganore. "That's all he talks about," Harley said.
The East team will look for its first win in the series. The West squad won the inaugural game, 29-16.
Injury Risk a Factor
High school football all-star games often create a conflict for coaches. They want their kids to play, but they worry about the risk of injury.
The worst-case scenario was played out in the 2000 Super 44 All-Star Game between players from Maryland and players from Northern Virginia. Former Seneca Valley standout Chris Kelley, a two-time All-Met and the 1999 All-Met Offensive Player of the Year, injured his knee during the game. It was the first in a series of injuries that have hampered his collegiate career.
"When that happened, I said I'd never send another kid to an all-star game again," Harley said. "But then I looked back on how I was in high school and how much I would have wanted to play. It's a great opportunity to be among their peers for a whole week and play with guys they've played against during their careers."
Hawkins said the coaches at Cheyney (Pa.) University, where he will play next year, did not want him to participate in the game.
"They kind of wanted me to sit out," he said. "But this is something I really wanted to do."
Mayo said he believes Kelley's injury was an isolated incident that should not dissuade players from participating in the all-star game.
"We've seen kids get hurt at the beach or hanging out somewhere, things like that," Mayo said. "There are more kids getting hurt that way than on the football field. They don't think about it, they don't talk about it. It's part of the game."
Jones, Abney to Prep Schools
Jones and Abney, who had committed to Boston College and Michigan State, respectively, will head to prep schools next year, Harley said. Jones will attend prep school in Connecticut; Abney has yet to decide where he will go.