A team other than Gilman won the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference football championship last year. It has created motivation for the Greyhounds, who won 11 of the previous 16 titles.
McDonogh's 37-6 beating of Gilman hangs in the Greyhounds' weight room as a constant reminder of the need to push harder this season.
“That score has been ingrained in the heads of the players,” Gilman defensive coordinator Stan White said.
The Greyhounds have the talent to takeback the title, returning seven players on both sides of the ball, including senior quarterback and Florida State University recruit Kai Locksley.
“I love their effort,” said Gilman coach Biff Poggi, whose team opens the season Sunday at St. Edward of Ohio. “You can't replace that effort. It's equivalent to our great teams.”
Locksley (6 feet 5, 205 pounds) committed to Florida State on July 31, choosing the Seminoles over Texas and Maryland.
He rushed for 795 yards and 14 touchdowns and passed for 875 yards and five touchdowns to lead the team to a 7-3 record last year.
“He's always been a devastating athlete and runner, but he is much more polished throwing the ball,” Poggi said. “His leadership skills are developing, and I am very pleased with that. He's really taken charge.”
Locksley will run behind an offensive line featuring senior guard Jahee Jackson (6-4, 285), junior guard/tackle Stephen Spanellis (6-6, 315), sophomore Camaron Spence (6-4, 305) and junior center/guard Wes Mehl (6-1, 235).
“We have a chance to be really good up front,” Poggi said. “They are smart, gifted physically and communicate and work together well.”
The offensive line should help junior running backs Dorien Maddox (5-11, 205) and Antonio Dupree (5-11, 225).
At wide receiver, the Greyhounds are hoping for big things from seniors Jelani Roberts (5-8, 175), a Northwestern recruit, Alonzo Mayo (5-10, 177) and Amyhr Barber (5-11, 180).
On defense, the Greyhounds should be better than last year when they gave up 186 points.
“The defense was very young last year and we had to replace three starting linebackers,” White said. “We didn't play the way we usually do and we jerry-rigged everything we did to stop the other team. This year should be different. We have more experienced players.”
The secondary is one of the team's strengths, as cornerbacks Barber and Mayo and safety Robert Branch (6-2, 210) return as starters.
The Greyhounds should be strong inside and outside along the line with tackle Jackson, who has committed to James Madison, junior end Devery Hamilton (6-7, 275) and junior tackle Ellison Jordan (6-1, 260).
“Ellison Jordan is as good a player we've had on the line ever,” White said.
Maddox, sophomore Antonio DiCerbo (6-3, 220) and junior Shamar Shanks (6-2, 215) are the team's top linebackers.