Several of the area's top defensive players took the field for Baltimore Saturday in the sixth annual Maryland Army National Guard Crab Bowl senior all-star game.
After the first 10 minutes, however, that fact was anything but apparent.
The Washington, D.C.-area team scored long touchdowns on two of its first three plays from scrimmage, putting the local squad in an early hole from which it never recovered in a 30-21 loss at McDaniel College.
"We told the kids it's about big plays — who's going to step up and make them," Baltimore coach Sean Murphy, the coach of Archbishop Curley, said. "It's supposed to be an offensive game … Winning is a bonus, but it's all about having fun."
That gave players a prime chance to open the playbook and create their own highlight reels.
"We were just kind of taking shots, going with the flow," Boys' Latin quarterback Fred Bopst said. "You just look at down and distance and throw a play out there. It was pretty much throw deep most of the time."
The game, which gives uncommitted players another opportunity to impress college scouts and others one last chance to take the field in high school, featured some of the top seniors from both public and private schools throughout Maryland. Washington, which includes players from the D.C.-area counties, including Anne Arundel, now leads the series 4-2.
Trailing 24-14, the Baltimore team — comprised of players from Baltimore City and Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Kent and Washington Counties — made a game of it on a 41-yard touchdown pass from North Harford's Nic Hammer to Milford Mill wide receiver Reggie White midway through the third quarter.
"It's my last high school game, so I'll remember this for the rest of my life," said White, who will continue his career at Monmouth.
That was as close as Baltimore would get.
Washington, which got field goals of 48 and 41 yards from Leonardtown's Doug Baumann, sealed the win with 3 minutes left, when Wise linebacker Kyle Jackson picked off a short pass by Westminster's Duke Etchison, who was hit while throwing at the Washington 40-yard line.
Despite the end result, Murphy said the goal was accomplished.
"The game is about showcasing the kids," he said. "You want to have a competitive game, you want the kids to have fun and you want their skills to be showcased."
Washington took the lead early with long touchdowns on two of its first three offensive plays.
On the game's first play, DeMatha quarterback John Lovett hit Bishop McNamara speedster Jordan Crockett over top the secondary for a 76-yard score.
When Parkside's Delonte Waters broke a 65-yard touchdown run later in the quarter, Washington had a 14-0 lead despite holding the ball for 58 seconds, compared to nine minutes and 15 seconds for the Baltimore team.
The Baltimore team, however, soon got back into the game under the direction of Bopst. Starting from near midfield late in the first quarter, the senior found St. Paul's receiver Tre Hamer, who made an acrobatic catch down the right sideline before getting to the 1-yard line.
Three plays later, Bopst scored on a run behind the left side of the line to make it 14-7.
Baltimore then pulled even when South Hagerstown's Isiaha Smith scored from the 3-yard line following an interception off a tipped pass from Boys' Latin safety Nick Gesualdi.