The juggernaut that was Eleanor Roosevelt's 2003 football team was upset in the Maryland 4A semifinals last fall. Gwynn Park's football team had its 3A title hopes slip away in Frederick, in the rain and slop, against eventual champion Linganore in the state semifinals. And the Potomac football team's season ended in heartbreak with a 33-25 loss to Aberdeen in the 2A final.
It was a tough year for Prince George's County football teams, which failed to win a state championship in any Maryland classification for the first time since 2000 and just the second time in six years.
But last Friday at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium, the county got a small measure of revenge in the second annual Maryland Football Coaches Association all-star game. Led by 16 players from Prince George's County and a coaching staff that included head coach Mike Mayo (C.H. Flowers) and assistants Tom Green (Surrattsville), Nick Lynch (Suitland) and Hameed Sharif (C.H. Flowers), the East team defeated the West, 48-31, in a game that was not nearly as close as the score indicated.
"This gives us a lot of county pride," recent Potomac graduate Harold Dorman said. "That's what we did it for. For the county."
All-stars from Maryland had played against all-stars from Pennsylvania in the Big 33 Game in the 1980s and early 1990s, and then against all-stars from Virginia from 1994 to 2002. Last year, however, the MFCA decided on a game composed solely of in-state players. The 2003 MFCA all-star game was the first intrastate all-star football game including all Maryland schools since 1975.
Like last year, the teams were divided essentially by Interstate 95. The East team was composed of players from Anne Arundel and other bayside counties, Prince George's, Charles and Cecil counties and Baltimore City. The West team was made up of players from Allegany, Baltimore, Carroll, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Frederick, Montgomery and Washington counties.
The East dominated much of Friday night's game and by late in the third quarter had built a 34-9 lead. The West scored a touchdown and added a two-point conversion to get within 34-17, and then -- to the dismay of many in the crowd of 2,000 -- got the ball back. Because of a rule used to help keep the game close, the East kicked off after the West's second-half scores because it still led by eight or more points. The West team benefited from the rule twice.
"We wanted to put it on them, and [the score] would have been more than that if they hadn't kept giving them the ball back," Dorman said.
Dorman was one of many county players who put on impressive performances , completing 4 of 7 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns. One of his passes, a 43-yard bomb, went to Quinton Brown (Douglass), a converted quarterback. One of the touchdown passes was a 33-yard strike to Forestville's Richard Abney, who wrestled the ball from Corey Davis (McDonogh) before strolling into the end zone.
Abney had two catches for 51 yards, and both went for touchdowns. In the first half he soared to snag an 18-yard touchdown pass from All-Met Sean Schaefer (Northern).
"He can play," Dorman said of Abney. "Richard is one of the most physical receivers in the league."
Abney's high school teammate, Andre Jones, had two interceptions. Jones grabbed the second late in the fourth quarter and raced 40 yards to the end zone for a score.
Jones led a tough East defense laden with Prince George's players. Both Rashad Wright (Roosevelt) and Bryson Roache (C.H. Flowers) recorded sacks, and Travis Bowman (Suitland) picked off a pass. Brandon Hawkins (Gwynn Park) recovered a fumble, and Eugene Chop (C.H. Flowers) came up with one of the best hits of the evening, sniffing out a screen pass and burying the West receiver nine yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Running back Daniel Singleton (Northwestern) was the East team's leading rusher, carrying the ball seven times for 60 yards and one touchdown.
"It was a game that, from not much practice or anything like that, we did pretty good," Dorman said.