www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/towson/ph-tt-ravens-towson-luther-1024-20121020,0,4065905.story

baltimoresun.com

Lutherville, Towson rec councils share a big stage on Ravens' home turf

Blue Knight win M&T Bank contest and invite Spartans as opponents

By Jen Rynda and Jim Joyner, jjoyner@tribune.com

8:54 AM EDT, October 22, 2012

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It was a big game for crosstown rivals — the Lutherville-Timonium Blue Knights against the Towson Spartans.

But the game, perhaps, was not as big as the venue where it was held: M&T Bank Stadium.

On Saturday, Oct. 20, at high noon, the 9-under teams from the two local recreation councils squared off on the field where Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith make their moves and make their living.

On Saturday, the youngsters were living large.

"I've always wanted to be here, because it's so huge," said Evan Heiler, 9, of the Towson Spartans. "I like this so much."

The opportunity for the two teams to square off came from the Lutherville-Timonium Rec Council, which won the Baltimore Ravens 2012 Play at M&T Bank Stadium Youth Football Challenge. The contest gives a rec council the opportunity to play a game at M&T.

After LTRC was selected, they got to pick which age group would play, and who the opponent would be. They chose 9-under, and the Towson Spartans.

"It's a little crazy, very surreal," said Clark Lare, head coach for the LTRC's Blue Knights, as he stood on the sideline of the NFL stadium.

He said much of the coaches' task was keeping the kids focused on the reality that the M&T field, while awe-inspiring, was just like any other.

"The field is 100 yards long, it's 10 yards for a first down, and that's what we're trying to tell them," said Lare.

But keeping that perspective was tough — and not just for the players.

"I've been in some big stadiums but not this big," said Jim Risser, coach of the Towson Spartans. "For the kids, it's a once in a lifetime experience. I think they're very excited."

So were the parents who filled a section of the massive field to cheer their kids on. Lutherville-Timonium even brought along its cheerleading squad.

Both squads seemed to revel in the experience more than the outcome.

"I just never thought I'd be on the field, I just never thought I would play here," said 10-year-old Thomas Gammie, of the LTRC Blue Knights.

"It's really cool," he said. "It's hard to believe."