Player of the Year: Brady Smith, Loyola
Smith did a little bit of everything for the second-ranked Dons. And he did it very well.
"You can't find a player who can play more positions on defense," Dons coach Brian Abbott said of Smith, who saw action as a strong safety, cornerback, defensive end and linebacker. "He plays every team's top guy, has a great combination of speed, size and power and can take over a game."
Smith, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound junior, finished with 65 tackles, nine behind the line of scrimmage, four sacks, three interceptions and a fumble recovery, as the Dons won their first Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title since 1997.
"His flexibility allows us to play a lot of combinations," said Abbott. "We can move him around. He can drop in coverage or roll up tight [to the line of scrimmage]."
A three-year starter defensively, Smith also is a two-year starter at quarterback. This season, he threw for 1,054 yards and 10 touchdowns, and rushed for 400 yards and two more scores.
Melvin Alaeze, Randallstown
A 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end who is one of the area's hardest hitters, Alaeze made 14 sacks and 50 tackles. The junior had two sacks in a 14-7 win over Hereford, whom the Class 3A state semifinalist Rams held to 24 rushing yards in ending a 26-game winning streak and a run of 49 consecutive Baltimore County wins. Alaeze recorded five sacks in the Rams' 18-15 victory over Bel Air in the Class 3A North region title game.
Kevin Barnes, Old Mill
Barnes, an instinctive and aggressive defensive back who was one of Anne Arundel County's best, helped lead the Patriots to their fifth straight Class 4A playoff berth. Though opposing quarterbacks often avoided throwing to his side of the field, Barnes, a 6-2, 170-pound senior, still managed to make plays, using his speed and quickness to intercept three passes, break up six more and make 61 tackles. Barnes, who is headed to Maryland, tested well in offseason combines, clearing more than 30 inches on his vertical leap and running a sub-4.5-second 40-yard dash.
Kyle Bloomfield, Broadneck
Bloomfield led the state runner-up Bruins and Anne Arundel County with eight interceptions while anchoring one of the top defenses in the area. The 6-0, 170-pound senior returned two of his interceptions for touchdowns. An excellent cover defender, Bloomfield usually drew the opponent's top receiver, and used his speed and smarts to rise to the challenge. As good as he was as a sure tackler in the secondary, Bloomfield, who made 50 tackles, was equally adept at knowing when to come up and provide run support to the Bruins' solid defensive line and linebacking corps.
Ryan Burns, South Carroll
The rangy, 6-5, 215-pound senior had a nose for both the quarterback and the ball, finishing the year with 13 sacks, 72 tackles and four fumble recoveries. The defensive end's play was one of the main reasons the Cavaliers went a school-record 11-2, won their first regional title and reached the Class 2A state semifinals. Burns has good speed for a big man and a non-stop motor that allowed him to make plays all over the field.
Tom Farmer, Eastern Tech
Farmer, a 6-4, 190-pound junior, allowed only once touchdown reception on his side all season, and was particularily effective in the Mavericks' big games. Three of his 11 interceptions came in two games against Hereford, with one of them in the end zone. Farmer grades out as a potential Division I recruit. Whether he goes to college as a receiver or a defensive back remains to be seen, though. He had a penchant for coming up with acrobatic catches - often made against double-teams - and had 14 receptions for 273 yards.
Justin Frederick, Glenelg
A second-year starter at middle linebacker, the 6-1, 220-pound senior made 167 tackles, 94 unassisted, including 14 for lost yardage. He also had three sacks. Frederick returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown and recovered a fumble, as Glenelg won its second straight Howard County League crown and reached the Class 2A South region title game. The Sun's Howard County Defensive Player of the Year, he produced one-third of his team's total tackles. Coach John Davis, in his eighth year, considers Frederick the best linebacker he has ever coached.
Chris Gillyard, Loyola
The relentless, 5-11, 205-pound senior is a tenacious, hard hitter. He made 40 tackles as a defensive back to go with three interceptions. Also a running back, Gillyard rushed for 1,001 yards and 11 touchdowns. Gillyard had his best offensive game against Archbishop Curley, rushing for 203 yards and four touchdowns. He also played well defensively in that game, making a touchdown-preventing tackle.
Nathan Irby, Dunbar
As a hard-hitting defensive back, the junior returned three of his nine interceptions for touchdowns. As a punt returner, he scored another touchdown. As a running back, Irby rushed for more than 1,800 yards and 15 touchdowns. Irby also had 21 receptions for more than 400 yards and three touchdowns. Irby rushed for 302 yards and two touchdowns in the Poets' 1A South regional, 30-22, victory over previously unbeaten Poolesville of Montgomery County.
Tyler Moyer, Broadneck
He was a pleasant surprise and a welcome addition to Broadneck when he transferred from the state of Washington, where he also played football and wrestled through his sophomore season. The 6-1, 230-pound Anne Arundel County Defensive Player of the Year led the state finalist Bruins (13-1) to the winningest season in county history. With a knack for tracking down the ball carrier and delivering the big hit, the senior made the transition to linebacker from defensive end and made 86 tackles and four sacks. His relentless pursuit from sideline-to-sideline figured big for a defense that yielded 8.2 points per game (5.2 in the regular season) and had a school-record five shutouts.
Jeremy Navarre, Joppatowne
A physical specimen at 6-4, 235 pounds, Navarre was in on everything during the Mariners' run to the Class 1A state championship.
En route to being named the Harford County Defensive Player of the Year, Navarre, a good run stopper and relentless pass rusher, had 152 tackles, averaging nearly 13 tackles per game along with 11 sacks, six caused fumbles, five fumble recoveries, one safety and a blocked punt. Also a lead blocker for All-Metro running back Brent Cash, Navarre was at his best in big games, blocking a punt in the state semifinals against Dunbar, and recording 13 tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in dealing 2A state champion Aberdeen its only loss.
Billy Rueter, Hereford
Rueter, a junior, continued to show big-play ability as a defensive end. In leading the Bulls to their eighth straight playoff berth, the 6-2, 215-pounder made 24 sacks, and has 41 in two years as a varsity starter. Adept at stopping the run or finding the quarterback, Rueter also made 117 tackles, recovered two fumbles and returned his only interception of the season for a touchdown.
Carl Stokes, Aberdeen
Quick and instinctive from sideline-to sideline, Stokes, a 6-2, 220-pound senior linebacker for the Class 2A state champs, was relentless in his pursuit of ball carriers. Stokes made 65 solo among his 125 tackles, paring with Erin Henderson to form one of the best linebacker duos in the metro area. Stokes, a vicious hitter who plays with an intense attitude, is being recruited by Marshall, Delaware, Hawaii and Navy. Stokes rushed for 830 yards and eights touchdowns as a running back, including a two-touchdown effort against Potomac in the state finals.
Larry Strickland, Loyola
The 6-2, 210-pound senior linebacker was a standout all season for the Dons, finishing with 130 tackles (six for lost yardage), three each in sacks, interceptions and fumble recoveries, and four caused fumbles. In the Dons' 14-7 Turkey Bowl victory over rival Calvert Hall, Strickland made 11 tackles for lost yardage and dove on top of the game-winning fumble recovery in the end zone. Strickland also made a key stop on fourth-and-one that led to Loyola's game-winning drive against McDonogh, sealed a victory over Mount St. Joseph with an interception, and led the Dons with 14 tackles in a win over Frederick County power Urbana.
Christian Varner, Randallstown
The 5-11, 175-pound senior returned two of his seven interceptions for touchdowns as a defensive back. Varner also threw for nearly 500 yards and three touchdowns as a quarterback, and caught 41 passes for 635 yards and six touchdowns as a receiver. He has accepted a full football scholarship to the University of Maryland, and will graduate in January in order to join the Terps in spring practice.
Shane West, Havre de Grace
Punting was just one more thing this jack-of-all trades did for the Warriors, the Harford County co-champs and the Class 1A North regional finalists. West, who will likely attend Morgan State next fall, averaged 33 yards on 26 punts, putting plenty of air under the ball to allow time for his coverage team to get down and make a tackle. As a field-goal kicker, West made 26 extra points and was 10-for-21 on field goals, including a 59-yarder against Joppatowne that put him in the state record books. Also Havre de Grace's quarterback, West threw for 1,125 yards and 10 touchdowns and ran for six touchdowns.
Name School Class Position
Chris Inmon John Carroll Senior Lineman
Eric Lindblad Edgewood Senior Lineman
Wayne Martin Eastern Tech Senior Lineman
Dane Randolph Wilde Lake Senior Lineman
Dane Robinson Calvert Hall Junior Lineman
Mark Hicks Edmondson Senior Linebacker
Nate Hummel Gilman Senior Linebacker
John Jackson Bel Air Junior Linebacker
Kendall Jones Arundel Senior Linebacker
Domonique Owens Oakland Mills Senior Linebacker
Greg Pinkney Eastern Tech Senior Linebacker
Josh Rutter Francis Scott Key Senior Linebacker
Trent Covington Long Reach Senior Defensive back
Devron Galloway Aberdeen Junior Defensive back
Grant Zimmerman Gilman Senior Defensive back
Pike Howard St. Paul's Senior Punter
Note: Teams selected by Lem Satterfield after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun