Player of the Year: Ambrose Wooden, Gilman
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior entered the year as one of the nation's most highly sought after Division I prospects. But Wooden carried the weight of so many high expectations as easily as one might carry a feather.
"Stop Ambrose Wooden, and you stop Gilman's offense," was a phrase that was widely circulated. But the deed was never done.
Wooden rushed for a career-high 1,635 yards and 22 touchdowns and passed for a career-high 1,217 yards and 13 touchdowns to lead the Greyhounds to their fifth Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title.
Those numbers raised his career totals to 4,033 rushing yards and 46 touchdowns, and 3,228 passing yards and 30 touchdowns. Wooden's combined 7,261 total yards of offense is a state record.
A repeat All-Metro performer, Wooden has been clocked at just over 4.2 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Some of the nation's most prominent college football programs have been tracking him down.
An A student who can virtually attend any college he chooses, Wooden has visited Boston College and also is being recruited by Notre Dame, Maryland, Stanford, Penn State, Ohio State, Princeton and North Carolina.
Coach of the Year: Biff Poggi, Gilman
His unique brand of leadership includes the slogan "50 men working together, loving each other, can't be beat." And his Greyhounds played with cohesion as they surpassed last year's 6-4 record along with the many high expectations that came with being the area's No. 1 preseason football team.
Poggi (50-9 career) credits his coaching staff of Stan White, Sherm Bristow, Ed Trusty, Rob White, David Payne, Joe Ehrmann, Keith Kormanik and John Foreman for helping him with a Gilman team that graduated several key players - including four who are playing Division I - from last year's squad. Its offensive line averaged less than 200 pounds. But the Greyhounds began what would be their third unbeaten season in Poggi's six years as coach - this time going 10-0 - by ending a 22-game winning streak by DeMatha of Hyattsville, and a 50-game winning streak by four-time state champ Urbana.
Gilman finished the year by winning its fifth Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title, earning a No. 1 ranking in the state and the area's highest-ever national ranking of No. 14 in USA Today.
Joe Akers, Hereford
The 6-foot-1, 290-pound Akers is the first two-way sophomore lineman in Hereford history. His grit and determination complemented knowledge and experience that belied the fact that he is just 15 years old.
Akers does not only thrive in the trenches, he knows how to play the rough-and-tumble game within them. Akers displayed good foot movement in a wing-T offense that generated a state-record 5,878 rushing yards and that boasted the state's third-leading overall rusher.
Schools such as Virginia, Boston College, Penn State, Connecticut and Michigan already have expressed interest.
Chris Bassler, Francis Scott Key
Chosen All-Monocacy Valley Athletic Conference both offensively and defensively, this West Virginia-bound 6-5, 250-pounder runs a respectable 4.9-second 40-yard dash and has soft hands as a tight end.
On offense, the senior caught seven passes for nearly 200 yards and three touchdowns as the Eagles went 8-2. He also threw key blocks that opened holes in an offense that generated more than 2,400 yards on the ground.
As a linebacker, Bassler had two sacks and made 14 of his 91 tackles in a 41-20 win over state runner-up Middletown in which the Eagles held the state's top rusher to a season-low 76 yards.
Antowan Bell, Overlea
This 6-5, 195-pound senior entered his final year with high expectations, and more than achieved them as the Falcons' primary wide receiver.
Bell led the metro area with 57 receptions and 940 yards. Despite specialized defenses designed to stop him, Bell took 10 of his receptions for touchdowns. Bell also excelled defensively, where he successfully defended nine passes - intercepting five of them.
Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, Southern California, Towson and North Carolina are interested in Bell, who will likely attend a prep school first.
A.J. Case, Wilde Lake
The senior running back always seemed to come through in the biggest games both offensively and defensively.
Case carried the ball 150 times, rushing for 1,227 yards and 17 touchdowns. The versatile Case also caught two touchdown passes, returned a kickoff 90 yards for a score and returned a punt for yet another touchdown.
As a linebacker/defensive back, Case had three of his 35 solo tackles for lost yardage, defended six passes - returning one of three interceptions for a touchdown - and recovered a fumble for yet another score as Wilde Lake tied Glenelg for the Howard County title.
Matt Gaines, Edgewood
The 6-1, 180-pound Gaines was Mr. Everything to the Rams, leading the program to its first Harford County title since 1984. The senior kicked five field goals with one being a game-winner and another being a long of 37 yards. Gaines was good on 17 extra-point kicks and punted for placement, averaging 33 yards.
As a tight end and split end, Gaines caught two touchdown passes, including a 30-yard game-winner against Aberdeen.
Gaines also played strong safety, intercepting two of his numerous defended passes. The Rams' football scholar-athlete also is a talented lacrosse faceoff specialist and will likely play that sport in college.
Adam Goloboski, Hereford
The 6-foot, 195-pound senior, who bench-presses 315 pounds, ranked as the state's third-leading rusher with his single-season school record 2,187 rushing yards.
The repeat All-Metro selection's rushing touchdowns (31) and his total touchdowns (32) also were school records as 13-0 Hereford won its third state title, finished No. 2 in the metro rankings and fourth in the state.
Defensively, Goloboski made 191 tackles, 38 for lost yardage, nine sacks, returned one of four interceptions for a touchdown, recovered two fumbles and blocked a punt. The 3.5 student is considering lacrosse and football at Maryland, Richmond, Towson, Hofstra and William and Mary.
Antwan Johnson, Patterson
You don't start three years for a Roger Wrenn-coached team unless you're good, and Johnson - whom the 29th-year coach calls "All World" - did just that.
The 6-4, 280-pound Johnson is extremely agile for his size and had good speed and movement to go with a solid understanding of the Clippers' blocking schemes. Defensively, his long arms allowed him to get separation on blockers, as he amassed 35 tackles in leading the Baltimore City 4A champion Clippers to an 8-2 record.
Johnson has offers from Eastern Michigan and Temple and also is getting looks from Virginia, Maryland and Boston College.
Henry Julio, Hereford
The 6-2, 265-pound senior two-way lineman was a sheer brute in the trenches, particularly as a power blocker in the Bulls' record-breaking wing-T offense as they marched to their second straight Class 2A state crown.
Julio, who bench-presses a team-high 375 pounds, cleared the way for one 2,000-yard rusher, one 1,000-yard rusher and an 800-yard rusher. Defensively, he had five sacks for a squad that has not allowed an opposing rusher to reach 100 yards in its past 23 games.
William and Mary, Richmond, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Towson and Boise State are among the colleges Julio is considering.
Keon Lattimore, Mount St. Joseph
The 6-foot, 205-pounder, whose older brother is Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, excelled despite specialized defenses designed to stop him in his tracks.
The repeat All-Metro rushed for nine touchdowns and 702 yards, and had seven scoring receptions despite playing with an ankle injury that hampered him the second half of the Gaels' season.
In a memorable 48-45 duel and loss to Gilman's Ambrose Wooden, Lattimore rushed for touchdowns of 1, 6 and 19 yards, returned a kickoff 70 yards for another score and had seven receptions for 102 yards. He ranks Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and N.C. State among his top picks.
Damond Malloy, Pikesville
At 5-8, 175 pounds, this senior was a sparkplug in the truest sense, generating offensive excitement every time he touched the ball.
Using his 4.5-second speed in the 40-yard dash, Malloy covered 1,703 rushing yards for 30 touchdowns and passed for 1,166 yards and 12 more scores as the Panthers finished 7-3.
Over the course of his career, Malloy, who played running back as a sophomore, has rushed for 100 yards in 23 of 29 games and 200 yards on eight occasions. He is leaning toward playing at Hofstra.
Brashaad Mayweather, Old Mill
The 5-9, 180-pound Texas native earned Anne Arundel County Offensive Player of the Year honors after rushing for 1,895 yards and 23 touchdowns to lead the Patriots (8-3) to their fourth straight Class 4A playoff berth.
Mayweather displayed speed, power and exceptional balance, beginning with a season-opening 342-yard, five-touchdown effort in a 41-26 rout of Arundel.
That game was the first of four in which Mayweather rushed for more than 200 yards. Mayweather has 3,184 yards over two seasons and 42 career rushing touchdowns.
Jimmy Meetre, South Carroll
The 5-10, 185-pounder used his 4.6-second speed in the 40-yard dash to cover a single-season school-record 1,352 yards. Meetre, who had 18 touchdowns, also has the school's career record for rushing yards with 2,099.
Meetre, chosen the Carroll County Offensive Player of the Year, had two of his best games rushing for 201 yards and three touchdowns in a victory over Thomas Johnson, and a 226-yard, two-TD effort in a narrow defeat against Class 3A state runner-up Linganore.
In the 8-2 Cavaliers' county championship win over Westminster, Meetre had a 50-yard touchdown run and an 86-yard kickoff return for another score.
Justin Pruitt, Long Reach
This 6-6, 296-pounder excelled at every kind of block, whether it was pull, trap or pass. A preseason All-State pick, the senior started for the third straight year, anchoring a Long Reach squad that averaged 200 yards a game, according to coach Pete Hughes.
"He completely controlled the line of scrimmage for us," said Hughes, adding that Pruitt can bench-press 365 pounds.
Pruitt has been offered a full scholarship by Penn State, and is high on the wish list of Boston College. He also has been recruited by Maryland and Virginia.
Danny Romanowski, Dundalk
The 6-4, 280-pound junior bench-presses 340 pounds, runs a 4.9-second 40-yard dash and was the man behind whom the Owls generated most of their more than 3,000 yards of rushing.
Romanowski was a critical catalyst in helping the Owls post a school-best 9-2 record for a share of the school's third-ever Baltimore County 4A-3A League title. Dundalk finished with its first-ever Class 3A North region crown and a No. 11 area ranking.
Romanowski is getting looks from Boston College, Virginia, Maryland, Syracuse, Penn State and Tennessee.
Marques Thompson, Calvert Hall
The diminutive Thompson has clocked a 4.5-second 40-yard dash and was a virtual blur of motion and activity once he received the ball.
A slashing, cutback runner, Thompson used his shifty moves and deceptive power to cover 1,617 yards and score 17 touchdowns to lead the third-ranked Cardinals to a 10-1 record and their third straight win over Loyola.
Thompson had 191 yards and two touchdowns against Mount St. Joseph in one of his best games. He is considering Richmond, Lehigh, William and Mary and Georgetown.
Anthony Triplin, Gilman
Using his excellent vision to read defenses, his 4.5-second speed to get open and his athleticism to either outleap or out-maneuver opposing defenders to the ball, Triplin simply abused defensive secondaries all year long.
The 5-11, 180-pounder caught 50 passes for 806 yards and 10 touchdowns, returned a kickoff for another score and also returned one of his two interceptions for a 50-yard touchdown.
In one of his best games, Triplin had five receptions for 84 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-21 win over Loyola. Triplin will play football and lacrosse at Johns Hopkins.
Name School Class Position
Andrew Goldbeck Calvert Hall Senior Quarterback
Nick Tanis Mount St. Joseph Senior Quarterback
Nick Bowen Chesapeake-AA Senior Running back
Pat Butt Hereford Senior Running back
Greg Hawkins Edmondson Senior Running back
Austen Merrills Wilde Lake Senior Running back
Richard Simpson Havre de Grace Senior Wide receiver
Dan Spriggs Calvert Hall Senior Wide receiver
Jason Stone Westminster Senior Wide receiver
Ryan Pope Long Reach Senior Lineman
Scott Burley Woodlawn Junior Lineman
Tom Green Arch. Curley Senior Lineman
Matt Janowski Calvert Hall Senior Lineman
Tap Kolkin Gilman Senior Lineman
Paul Marchese Boys' Latin Senior Lineman
Jonathan Sykes Edmondson Junior Lineman
David Beach St. Paul's Senior Kicker
Note: Teams selected by Lem Satterfield after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun