At this time last year, John Schaefer thought there was a good chance his son, Sean, would play a sport in college. He just guessed the wrong one.
"If he was going to be playing anything in college, it would have been baseball," John Schaefer said.
John Schaefer was happy watching Sean complete his high school football career on the same field he would start his college football career -- on the bright green turf of Division I-AA Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium.
Schaefer, a Northern graduate, completed 3 of 10 passes for 46 yards and an 18-yard touchdown pass to Forestville's Richard Abney in the East team's 48-31 victory in the Maryland High School All-Star Game on Friday night.
Lackey's Courtney Knight returned the opening kickoff 66 yards, setting up an East field goal, and later caught a 29-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter from Potomac's Harold Dorman.
And Westlake's Marcus Lemon had a sack.
The pocket -- not the middle infield -- is Schaefer's comfort zone now, even though he absorbed a bloody lower lip on a first-quarter sack. His touchdown pass was reminiscent of so many he threw during his All-Met senior season; he stood in the pocket until the last split-second and took a hit, but only after he had lofted a spiral to the back of the end zone onto Abney's fingertips.
"I think I like [football] a little bit more now," Schaefer said with a grin. "Baseball started to fade off a bit after I started getting back into football more."
Baseball, after all, was the sport he had played straight through his childhood, including his senior year at Northern. His growth spurt in sixth grade did not pull him off the diamond -- like it did the football field -- because he was so much bigger than the rest of the kids.
"We told him to hold off on it until high school," John Schaefer said.
As a result, Sean Schaefer shelved football and starred as a shortstop on travel teams through middle school. His family followed him as he went to tournaments up and down the east coast and Texas.
"He likes the control in football [at quarterback], and he couldn't get that in baseball," said Kim Schaefer, his mother.
Sean Schaefer returned to football once he got to Northern in 2000 and jumped back to the dugout each spring. He led Northern's football team to 15 victories his final two seasons, after the Patriots had won just three over the previous three years.
For Schaefer's future, though, no victory might have been more important than the 28-7 triumph over Lackey on Oct. 3. He passed for a then-career-high 323 yards and two touchdowns against a defense that had allowed only one score the previous four games.
The following week, Towson recruiter Don Zimmerman was at a Lackey practice. Chargers Coach Scott Chadwick told him: "You've got to see this kid at Northern."
Schaefer's highlight tape included his performance against Lackey and was waiting at the office for Zimmerman, who has since left for Bowie State. After watching it, Zimmerman called Schaefer.
"Sean, how'd you like to play some college football this weekend?" he asked. While Zimmerman was joking about the upcoming Saturday, he was serious about putting Schaefer in a Towson helmet and pads.
Schaefer's 12-year-old sister, Nicole, sat on a couch across the room as her brother listened.
"You could just see the smile on his face," she said. "It was finally happening."
Two months later, after Schaefer led Northern to the playoffs for the first time since 1990, he accepted Zimmerman's offer.
"It was pretty exciting," Schaefer said. "I'm going to like playing here."