Player of the Year: Melvin Alaeze, Randallstown
Alaeze is a towering, athletic specimen whose skill many believe is far from having reached its full potential.
Yet the 6-foot-3, 275-pound senior, who is considered by many recruiting Web sites to be the nation's No. 1-rated high school defensive end, most often was simply too quick and powerful to be stopped by the majority of offensive linemen he faced. Although most teams ran away from Alaeze, who bench-presses 350 pounds and has a 30-inch vertical leap, he still recorded 18 1/2 sacks, caused three fumbles and recovered two.
Alaeze, who ran a 4.7-second 40-yard dash at a spring combine, often was dropped back into pass coverage. He had one interception. Alaeze rarely came off the field, having played linebacker, defensive end, tight end, wide receiver, and running back. Alaeze rushed for 351 yards and five touchdowns, caught 17 passes for 257 yards and three more scores, and also was the Rams' kicker and punter, averaging 40 yards per attempt on the latter.
At the season's outset, Alaeze was offered more than 50 scholarships by some of the nation's top Division I programs. Alaeze, who also plays basketball, has narrowed his preferences to Virginia Tech, Miami and Maryland, although schools such as Ohio State and Penn State still are sending representatives to his home. He has been selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio in January.
Joe Akers, Hereford
The 6-foot-2, 315-pound senior earns All-Metro honors for the third straight year for his play on both sides of the ball. Akers led a Bulls team that went 13-1, reached the Class 2A state title game for the third time in his four years as a starter, and finished with a No. 2 area ranking.
A member of the Bulls' state title-winning teams of 2001 and '02, Akers helped Hereford go 48-4 during his tenure. This season, he registered 15 sacks. Offensively, Akers anchored a line that paved the way for a state single-season-record 636 points.
Akers will satisfy graduation requirements at Hereford in January, then leave to join spring practices at the University of Connecticut, the school to which he has earned a full football scholarship.
Alex Butt, Hereford
He was a tireless presence for the Bulls on both sides of the ball. On defense, Butt, 6 feet 1, 195 pounds, played linebacker and was the team's leading tackler. On offense, Butt teamed with backfield mate Cory Smith, a second-team All-Metro selection, to form a solid duo.
Defensively, Butt was almost always around the ball. More than 50 of his 151 tackles were solo, he notched six sacks and occasionally dropped back into pass coverage, making two interceptions.
Offensively, Butt was a hard runner but was also deceptively fast, having clocked a 4.6-second 40 yard dash. He rushed for 13 of his 16 total touchdowns and ran for nearly 900 yards.
A B-average student, he is undecided about his college choice.
Tommy Farmer, Eastern Tech
A repeat All-Metro performer, Farmer, 6 feet 4 and 195 pounds, stood above most of his rivals. And this year, from his position in the secondary, the senior continued to be the scourge of rival receivers.
Farmer grabbed eight interceptions, raising his career mark to 22, and deflected 10 other passes. In 30 games as a starter, Farmer has given up only one scoring reception.
One of his best games was in a 7-6 victory over then-No. 1 Randallstown, when he made a defensive stop at the 1-yard line and caught the game-winning touchdown pass. As a receiver, Farmer made the most of his 12 receptions for 218 yards, scoring on 11 of them. He also returned a punt for a score.
Farmer has been offered a full scholarship to play for Towson, but also has received interest from Connecticut, Buffalo and Richmond.
Ben Hostetler, River Hill
He is known primarily for his abilities as a quarterback, but the senior also excelled this year in his debut in the secondary.
Hostetler, 6 feet 3 and 180 pounds, had 10 inteceptions on the season, grabbing three in each of the Hawks' Howard County League wins over Hammond and Reservoir. Hostetler also caused three fumbles, and 37 of his 72 tackles were solo.
Hostetler completed 98 of 197 passes for 1,415 yards, 16 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He also rushed for 218 yards and eight more scores. Hostetler also was the punter for the 10-0 team.
Hostetler, who holds seven school records, led River Hill to its second straight county title and second straight playoff berth. A 4.0 student who ranks No. 1 in his class, Hostetler is getting looks from several Ivy League schools.
John Jackson, Bel Air
Jackson was an invaluable player for the Bobcats, who dethroned Randallstown as Class 3A North region champions and reached the 3A state semifinals, where they lost a close game to eventual state champ Northwest of Montgomery County.
The 6-foot, 205-pound senior led the Bobcats to an 11-2 record with a team-high eight sacks. Jackson ranked second on the team with 116 tackles, averaging eight per game. Jackson also made 13 of his tackles behind the line of scrimmage, caused and recovered two fumbles and had an interception.
Jackson also converted 41 of 45 extra-point attempts, and made nine field goals, including one from 51 yards and three others from 40, 42 and 47 yards.
Jackson is considering playing football for either Robert Morris, Delaware State or Richmond.
Anthony Lott, McDonogh
He was an imposing presence on both sides of the ball for a talented Eagles team in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference. Lott, an MIAA high jump champion, intercepted three passes and made 27 tackles.
As a receiver, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior was the perfect complement to Maryland-bound receiver and second-team All-Metro player Darrius Heyward-Bey. Lott finished with 31 receptions for 580 yards and eight touchdowns.
Lott, who forced two fumbles against Gilman, also caught the game-winning touchdown in a 12-7 win over Calvert Hall.
Lott has received a full scholarship offer from Northwestern, and also has drawn interest from schools such as Pittsburgh, Alabama, North Carolina, Villanova, William & Mary, Richmond and Temple.
Shawn Maczka, Gilman
He averaged 41.9 yards on 24 punts, often pinning the opposition deep in its own territory and forcing it to work against the Greyhounds' stellar defense. Maczka also played defensive back for Gilman, having big games in victories over 1A state champion Dunbar and rivals McDonogh and Loyola.
A defining moment for the junior came in the Greyhounds' season-ending win over McDonogh. Still recovering from a ruptured calf muscle, Maczka began the afternoon watching from the sideline and on crutches. But when it became apparent that Maczka's team needed him, he "got off the crutches at halftime and put on his uniform," said Gilman assistant coach Stan White. The left-footed kicker promptly nailed a momentum-swinging, 47-yard punt that pinned McDonogh on its 7-yard line.
Jeremy Navarre, Joppatowne
The 6-foot-5, 255-pound senior led the Mariners to an 11-3 record, a No. 7 area ranking, and a Class 2A state runner-up finish. Bound for the University of Maryland on a full football scholarship, Navarre, recruited as a blocking fullback, will satisfy graduation requirements in January and join the Terps' football team for spring practice.
Chosen Harford County's Defensive Player of The Year for the second straight season, Navarre is a repeat All-Metro performer who registered 148 tackles (110 solo). He also had 14 sacks, caused two fumbles and recovered a fumble.
A two-time defending state champion wrestler, Navarre has received permission from the state association to retain his athletic eligibility by taking an economics course at Joppatowne that will allow him to compete for a third state title while enrolled in spring classes at Maryland.
Billy Rueter, Hereford
The third-year starter played in his second state title game, having been a member of the Bulls' championship team of 2002. At 6 feet 3, 215-pounds, Rueter is a sure tackler who was excellent at angular pursuits, making a number of his tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
A repeat All-Metro performer, the senior was Hereford's second-leading tackler. He registered a team-high 20 sacks, including two in the Bulls' state title-game loss to Potomac of Prince George's County. Rueter raised his career sacks total to a school-record 52.
Rueter ranks No. 1 in his senior class with a 4.0 average. Rueter is getting looks for his academic success as well as for football from Ivy League programs such as Harvard. He is also a strong candidate to attend West Point.
Eugene Simms, Gilman
An integral part of a defense that excelled against a schedule considered the state's toughest, Simms helped the Greyhounds shut down five teams that were ranked among Maryland's top 20 squads by the Associated Press.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound senior was among the most feared defensive ends in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference, a league considered one of the state's toughest. Simms registered a team-high 19 sacks.
He ranked third on the team with 75 tackles, 22 of which came behind the line of scrimmage. He also recovered three fumbles.
For his efforts in helping Gilman to the area's No. 1 ranking and its sixth MIAA A Conference crown, Simms was named Baltimore City Defensive Player of The Year.
Brady Smith, Loyola
Smith has to rank as one of the toughest players ever to wear a Loyola uniform. Last year's All-Metro Defensive Player of The Year, Smith played through injuries to his knees, ankles and fingers that might have sidelined others.
The 6-foot-2, 245-pound senior made 82 tackles, seven of which were behind the line of scrimmage. He had two sacks, three interceptions and caused four fumbles.
Smith led the Dons to a 10-1 mark - a school record for victories - and a runner-up finish in the MIAA A Conference. Smith, who will play football at Connecticut, also played quarterback, running back and receiver. A versatile athlete, Smith was a private schools state champion wrestler and executed faceoffs for the lacrosse team.
Danny Bridges, F.S. Key, senior, lineman
Kelly Cox, McDonogh, senior, lineman
Athalie Rivera, Dunbar, senior, lineman
Artie Willette, Hereford, senior, lineman
Brian Carroll, Gilman, junior, linebacker
Nick Sowells, Broadneck, senior, linebacker
Brian Taylor, Long Reach, junior, linebacker
Tim Jennings, Pallotti, senior, def. back
Jamari McCullough, Randallstown, senior, def. back
Deon Peters, Severn, senior, def. back
Akeem Richards, Overlea, senior, def. back
Ryan Farrell, Hereford, senior, punter
Note: Teams selected by Lem Satterfield after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun