Making big plays on special teams can help a player go from relative obscurity to a one-hit wonders, or it can turn highly touted players into bona fide stars.
In Friday afternoon's 28-21 Gilman (5-1) victory over visiting Calvert Hall (4-1), two special team plays did just that.
The first, on Calvert Hall's fake field goal on the last play of the second quarter made halftime heroes out of senior Matt Dubuque and junior Logan Kurek.
The second, a 97-yard game-winning punt return touchdown by Cyrus Jones, with a tick under three minutes left in regulation, was further proof that Jones in one of the top playmakers in the country.
Jones got one last crunching block by Wyatt Dickerson on the Calvert Hall punter and went untouched for the final 50 yards.
"I think Cyrus Jones is a tremendous player," Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis said. "He may be the very best player, or he's 1 and 1A with Stephon Diggs (Good Counsel). Those two are two of the best players in America."
Gilman coach Biff Poggi couldn't agree more.
"I think he's the best player I've ever coached, and I think he's the best player in the country," Poggi said.
Jones also had four receptions for 80 yards in the second half when Gilman rallied from a 21-7 deficit.
On the last play before halftime, it appeared Calvert Hall's Kurek and Dubuque were headed for stardom when they connected on the fake field goal.
Gilman called a time out with 2.4 seconds remaining and the Calvert Hall players saw an opening.
"We noticed they were stacking one side and we called it in the huddle and we just said go and we went and I did my job and jumped up and got it," said Kurek, who had another touchdown reception earlier this season on a play from scrimmage.
Dubuque scrambled to his right and lofted the ball into the corner of the end zone under pressure.
"It was just sitting up there," Kurek said. "I never knew when it was going to come down, but I just waited for it."
"Matt made the only play he could make with pressure on him and Logan Kurek made a heckuva catch to put us in a position to be up two scores at the half," Davis said.
In the end, thanks to Gilman's Jones, it wasn't quite enough.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun