Player of the Year: Jason Murphy, Edmondson
The 6-4, 240-pounder had 17 sacks despite being the focus of offensive linemen's double and triple teams. Murphy has 47 sacks in two seasons, and more than 60 in four seasons. Murphy is a four-year starter, having struggled through a 3-7 season as a freshman - his first in organized football. But with Murphy in the lineup, Edmondson has won three straight city West Division crowns, and 28 of its past 30 games, and Edmondson coach Pete Pompey has become the city's winningest active coach with 192 career victories. Murphy was second-team All-Metro as a sophomore and a first-teamer last fall. "He was the best defensive player on the field," said Dave Carruthers, coach of three-time 2A state champ Urbana, referring to last fall's title game against Edmondson. Murphy is a vicious hitter and was a terror in a defense which allowed only 30 points heading into the Class 2A state quarterfinal 43-37 victory over Northwest of Montgomery County. In the Redskins' 22-6 semifinal loss to Gwynn Park of Prince George's County, Murphy had a sack, a fumble recovery and three tackles for lost yardage, this despite constantly being double-teamed. "He's a monster, a man-child, best I've seen in high school," said Gwynn Park coach Danny Hayes. "We had to always be aware of where he is, because they moved him around and he controls the line. I have nothing but praise for that young man." He is being recruited by Virginia Tech, Penn State, Syracuse, Michigan, Maryland and South Carolina, and is rated among the nation's best Division I defensive end recruits.
Mykle Bouie, Randallstown
The senior averaged nine sacks over his four-year career and led the Rams to the Baltimore County 4A-3A league crown this season, going 10-0 in the league and 10-1 overall. A muscular senior who packed a wallop and, having clocked a 4.6-second speed in the 40-yard dash, also drove his 6-foot, 200-pound body into his opponents with an ample amount of force. Bouie earned second-team All-Metro honors as a sophomore and, this year, is earning first-team All-Metro honors for the second consecutive season. Bouie, a B student, led a unit which posted six shutouts during the regular season this year. Bouie, a middle linebacker who had 12 sacks and two fumble recoveries, is considering Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Maryland and Temple, among others.
Chris Bowen, Glenelg
A wide receiver last fall, the 6-4, 185-pounder handled double duties as both a defensive back and tight end for Glenelg coach John Davis, Howard County's Coach of the Year. Of his nine interceptions, he had a critical one against Howard County regular-season champ Oakland Mills in a Class 1A state quarterfinal upset that was the Gladiators' first playoff victory and helped the team to finish 8-4 after a 1-3 start. Bowen also was a clutch receiver for the Gladiators. On a team that stressed ball control and which rarely passed, Bowen was an excellent blocker, but also had soft hands. A clutch receiver, Bowen had 18 receptions for 364 yards and five touchdowns.
Domonique Foxworth, Western Tech
Foxworth, one of the nation's most highly recruited defensive back prospects, finished his career with 14 interceptions and rushed for 1,369 single-season yards, both school records. He scored 22 touchdowns, also a school record, using speed that has been clocked at 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash, and has accumulated a school-record 4,871 all-purpose yards. This year, he rushed for 13 touchdowns, caught three, passed for four and returned two kickoffs for scores. Foxworth accumulated 2,037 all-purpose yards on the year. A 3.2 student with a 980 SAT score, Foxworth received 13 full scholarship offers, but has narrowed his choices to Purdue, Maryland and Pittsburgh.
Starrett Esworthy, Gilman
With Esworthy in the lineup calling the shots defensively as a linebacker, the Greyhounds won two of their three straight MIAA A Conference titles, and shut out 13 opponents during a 29-game winning streak. The 6-1, 225-pounder had four sacks, eight tackles for lost yardage, and ranked second on the team in tackles with 74. Esworthy was the Greyhounds' hardest hitter, said one teammate, adding that "when he hits you, you know it." He anchored a defense that shut out DeMatha of Prince George's County in its season opener, and DeMatha finished as the No. 1 team in the Washington area.
Matt Gielen, McDonogh
The senior linebacker was among three players who returned for the four-time MIAA B Conference champs, but played a leading role in the Eagles' march from a No. 11 area ranking to No. 1, ending with a 7-0 shutout of Gilman. The 6-2, 230-pounder had 85 tackles and four interceptions, one of which quelled any thoughts of a comeback in McDonogh's come-from-behind 15-9 victory over MIAA B Conference rival St. Paul's. A 3.0 student, Gielen is considering playing football at an Ivy League school.
Jeff Graves, Catonsville
A 6-3, 180-pounder with a booming foot, Graves is considered one of the nation's best punters by Rivals100.com recruiting service. He averaged 46.1 yards and converted 27 of 30 extra points. For his career, Graves averaged 43 yards per punt and converted 52 of 60 extra points. He also kicked a 36-yard field goal. Graves, whose Comets went 8-2, lists among the schools that have contacted him Florida, Wisconsin, Temple, Tennessee, Northwestern, Central Michigan, N.C. State, Eastern Michigan, Middle Tennessee State, Maryland, Virginia, Navy, Penn State, Lehigh, Wagner, Towson and James Madison.
Grant Halford, St. Paul's
It's no coincidence that whenever Halford was injured and not on the field, the Crusaders were in trouble. That happened twice during games this season: in a loss to Gilman and a loss to McDonogh, as the Crusaders finished as MIAA B Conference runners-up at 7-2. Halford, who will play lacrosse at , is as tough and durable as they come. The 6-foot, 195-pounder had 83 tackles, 13 of which were behind the line, two pass deflections and returned one of his three interceptions for a score. He also recovered a fumble. Offensively, he rushed for 402 yards and six touchdowns and returned two kickoffs for scores.
Brandon Gulley, Annapolis
The 6-3, 215-pounder was Anne Arundel County's Defensive Player of the Year, having been moved to the position of linebacker during the season's second game for the 3A state runner-up Panthers. Annapolis lost its first game to Old Mill, a game during which it gave up five touchdowns and 242 rushing yards to second-team All-Metro Kelvin Collins. But Gulley's presence solidified the run defense, helping him to become the third Annapolis player to earn player of the year honors with 20 of his 120 tackles going for losses of yardage. Gulley also was an excellent blocking guard on offense, being named the best lineman in the county, as voted by the coaches, and earning the 12th Al Laramore Trophy for that honor. Gulley also recovered five fumbles and had two interceptions. Connecticut, Kentucky, Widener and Salisbury State have shown interest in Gulley.
Greg Lotz, Gilman
The 6-5, 225-pounder had 43 tackles from his position on the defensive line, ranked No. 1 on the team in tackles for lost yardage (11) with teammate Victor Abiamiri and also led the team in sacks with 10. Among his best games were the ones against DeMatha, a season-opening shutout, where he helped to contain one of the state's top rushers. Then again, Lotz pretty much turned in a yeoman effort every time out. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell and Brown are among the Ivy League schools Lotz is considering playing for. Lotz also was the Greyhounds' punter, averaging nearly 40 yards and exhibiting an ability to pin opposing offenses.
Mario Merrills, Wilde Lake
Whether on defense or offense, this 6-foot, 175-pounder had electifying speed that enabled him to make the big play and to earn All-Howard County honors for the second straight year. A second-team All-Metro selection last fall, Merrills has 4.38-second speed in the 40-yard dash, a fact that attracted a full scholarship to the University of Maryland, which he has accepted. As a defensive back, where Merrills is rated one of the nation's top recruits by Rivals100.com recruiting service, he made eight pass deflections and intercepted another pass. Merrills also had two quarterback sacks, six tackles for lost yardage and one fumble recovery. As a running back, Merrills rushed for 1,743 yards and 21 touchdowns on 201 carries this year, this after covering 1,050 yards for 13 touchdowns on 172 carries as a junior.
Napoleon Sykes, Gilman
An all-around skill player with an electrifying ability to come up with the big play, Sykes had a signature effort against DeMatha. In that game, while covering one of the nation's most highly recruited receivers in Domonique Stewart, his 75-yard interception return was the backbreaker. Sykes, who had four interceptions, also returned a backbreaker against Loyola for a score. But he had a monster effort in a rout of Mount St. Joseph, scoring three touchdowns receiving, and another on a kickoff return. Sykes runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash and, as a junior, will return next fall.
Robert Scott, Oakland Mills
Scott earned All-County honors in Howard County for the second consecutive season, this year anchoring a defense that blew out most of its league opponents en route to winning nine straight games. The 5-11, 245-pounder beefed up from a year earlier, gaining some 30 pounds. Scott played nose guard and was a physically dominant player. Scott made 66 tackles and had 32 solo tackles, had seven quarterback sacks and recovered three fumbles. Also a defending state champion wrestler, Scott was difficult to block because of his balance and agility. He may be the state's No. 1 returning heavyweight wrestler.
Andre Watson, Mervo
The 6-4, 230-pounder is not hard to miss. He's the one bull-rushing past an offensive lineman, or dragging the quarterback to the ground. Watson had 57 tackles, seven sacks and recovered two fumbles to lead Mervo to an 8-3 record, a share of the city East Division crown and a Class 4A state quarterfinal berth - the school's first. Offensively, he also was a tight end, hauling in 23 receptions for 301 yards and three touchdowns - one a 75-yarder against Patterson. Watson is difficult to bring down after the catch.
Stan White Jr., Gilman
Although only a junior, this kid simply is a player. White, a 6-3, 225-pounder, was all over the field for Gilman. He ranked No. 1 in tackles (82), interceptions (five), passes defensed (10), was third in tackles for lost yardage (nine) and had three sacks. He also was the Greyhounds' No. 1 receiver with 28 receptions for 437 yards as a tight end. He was unblockable against DeMatha, killed critical drives with interceptions against Calvert Hall , Landon and State College, Pa., and had 12 tackles in a win over Mount St. Joseph. An excellent student, White, whose father starred as a linebacker at Ohio State and for the Baltimore Colts, already is receiving scholarship interest.
Brysean Williams, Broadneck
The 5-10, 220-pound senior captained a team that twice shut down one of the state's leading rushers in victories over Anne Arundel County rival Old Mill and running back Kelvin Collins, a two-time second-team All-Metro selection. Williams played linebacker for the Bruins, who reached the Class 4A state semifinals and lost to eventual state champ Gaithersburg. Williams was in on 69 tackles, 56 of which were solo tackles. He also registered four sacks, recovered two fumbles, knocked down two passes and had one interception. Williams was a three-year starter for the Bruins and "a great senior leader," according to his coach, Jeff Herrick.