A year ago, Devin Butler sat in a purple seat at M&T Bank Stadium and watched Frederick Douglass of Prince George's County fall to Middletown in the Class 2A football state championship. On Saturday, the freshman quarterback was on the field with the same stakes, battling the Knights in an attempt to land the first state title for Douglass.
On the state's largest stage, Butler alternated flashes of brilliance with reminders of his youth in a 30-12 loss to Middletown.
Douglass fell behind Middletown, 16-0, and couldn't recover as the Knights beat the Eagles in the title game for the second straight season, closing out their first perfect campaign with their 22nd straight victory.
"I see how it feels to lose now, and I don't ever want to feel it again," said Butler, who finished with 172 passing yards and a touchdown and led the team in rushing but was only 7-for-27 passing. "It's a bad feeling crying when somebody else is cheering, so I'm just going to make adjustments for next year."
Douglass (12-2) started strong on defense, allowing two first downs and no points in the opening quarter, but the Eagles' triple-option offensive attack struggled to move the ball consistently, and Middletown wore them down with a power running game and timely passing.
The Knights (14-0) broke the stalemate on junior Tim Pirrone's 10-yard touchdown pass to senior Sean Wenner early in the second quarter and continued to pile it on with an offense paced by senior running back Zach Welch, who needed 31 carries to pick up 125 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Meanwhile, Butler threw incomplete on his first nine passes and Douglass's only scoring threat in the first half ended with a blocked field-goal attempt that appeared to become a Middletown touchdown until it was waived off by an inadvertent whistle during the play.
"We had a really good plan throughout the week, and when you get here, you've got to execute it," Douglass coach J.C. Pinkney said.
Butler got on track after halftime, passing for a score and rushing for another to pull within 23-12 in the final minute of the third quarter, but the Eagles never got any closer.
Senior Demory Monroe had four catches on the season coming in, but the wide receiver became Butler's favorite target Saturday with Middletown often double-teaming senior wide receiver Paul Harris.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Monroe caught six passes for 163 yards and a touchdown, while Harris, a Tennessee recruit, was held without a catch in his final game.
"It's a great accomplishment [to play in another final] because nobody had us coming back," said Douglass senior linebacker Matthew Paul, the team's lone four-year varsity player. "We had a freshman quarterback who took the team on his back and led us here, and we just came up short."