By Nelson Coffin, email@example.com
9:30 AM EDT, October 2, 2011
While not exactly an afterthought, Gilman's 42-8 romp over Archbishop Spalding Saturday afternoon in rainy Roland Park was certainly put in perspective by the battle being waged off the gridiron by Cavaliers coach Mike Whittles.
The veteran coach is fighting pancreatic cancer, the same disease that claimed the life of Gilman coach Biff Poggi's older sister, Betsy.
To honor his friend's fight, Poggi made a $10,000 donation to pancreatic cancer research in Whittles' name and, with several coaches on both teams, wore a purple T-shirt emblazoned with script that read "Keep fighting Coach Whittles."
Several Gilman players wore purple socks, which is the color the Lustgarten Foundation uses in its promotions to fight the deadly disease.
"He's the perfect coach for high school football," said Poggi about the man who guided the Cavaliers to the last two Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference titles before taking his team to the A Conference this season. "He's the kind of man anybody would want to coach their son."
The game was never really in doubt after a Spalding kick returner slipped at the visitors' 1-yard line on the opening kickoff.
After forcing a poor punt, Gilman started its first drive at the Cavalier 15 and scored three plays later on a 5-yard burst by junior quarterback Shane Cockerille.
The Stoneleigh resident also rushed for two other TDs, tossed a 15-yard scoring strike to sophomore Bijan Rhett, watched what would have been a long bomb slip through the hands of a receiver and had a 5-yard touchdown flip to senior Cyrus Jones called back for an inadvertent whistle after a fake handoff to senior Kenneth Goins fooled the referees.
Jones also had an interesting day, fumbling through the end zone after a terrific zig-zag through what seemed to be every opponent with an interception before having a long scoring run called back on a holding penalty.
On a positive note, one of the state's most highly sought after recruits had a 72-yard punt return to set up Gilman's third touchdown and scored on a 68-yard reception from Cockerille in the third quarter.
Gilman (4-1) hosts unbeaten and defending conference champ Calvert Hall (4-0) on Oct. 7 at 2:30 p.m.