New Town senior Vincent Minor may be small for a lineman, but he's played a big role in the Titans' drive to their first state championship game.
At 5 feet 9, 180 pounds, Minor doubles as a center and a defensive end for the Titans (11-2), who defeated previously unbeaten Perryville, 28-27, in the state semifinal, and will meet No. 6 Dunbar, the two-time defending champion, for the Class 1A title Saturday at noon at M&T Bank Stadium.
Minor started playing football in sixth grade after he spotted the Randallstown Panthers rec team as he and his mother rode by the field. Despite his size, he always has been a lineman.
Also the catcher on the New Town baseball team, Minor has a 2.79 GPA and would like to play football in college. He said he hopes to stay local and plans to major in engineering.
Do you face many guys your size?
Every week I play, it seems like everybody's bigger than me. I've just got to use technique. Coach (Joe) Holland did a good job teaching me a lot of good technique and using my speed to beat these guys.
What is the biggest challenge for a small offensive lineman?
The biggest challenge is using your leverage, staying low and getting under these guys' pads and getting movement, because as a center, you've got to get movement up front, move them off the ball and pick up first downs.
How big are the guys on either side of you?
My right guard, Aaron Scott, he's about 5-10 and about 280, and my left guard, Jordan Bolt, he's about 5-8 and 270, so I've got big guys on both sides (laughs). They help me out a lot. Without them, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing right now.
Which do you like more — offense or defense?
At first I Iiked offense more, but then I had to go over to the dark side (laughs) and playing defense is real fun, shutting down other people when they get frustrated and they're not moving the ball. That's real fun.
Last season's end was a big disappointment when the team won the regional semifinal but had to forfeit for using an ineligible player, so did the players start talking then about coming back and having a season like this?
Yeah. We knew we were going to be real good this year, because we had a lot of people coming back. We didn't like the fact that our season ended like that, so we were on a mission to prove everybody wrong about us. We've been underdogs the whole season and we loved it. That just makes us have something to go out and prove.
You had a great season rolling toward the finish and then you lost to your archrival Owings Mills by a point in the last regular-season game. How did that affect the team?
Oh man, that was devastating right there. We should have won the game, but we just made too many mistakes, so we were out to prove something during the playoffs. We never wanted to lose again like that. That was a terrible feeling after that game. We just had to right the ship and play hard every down and play four quarters, and possibly even five sometimes, of hard-nosed football.
Is this a very close team?
Oh yeah. I love my team. Football is too physical as a game, so you've got to crack jokes sometimes. The coaches do that a lot with us. We definitely have fun. We get on each other all the time. We just love to have fun as a team. We play hard and win and sometimes, lose. Hopefully, that won't happen this week though. We love going to practice and it's just fun. This football team makes you want to play football.
What are you looking forward to most about the state final?
I'm going to take it all in, but I've got to go out there and play football. It's going to be amazing being in the Ravens' stadium. Not every athlete gets to do that, go to the Ravens' stadium and compete for a state championship. I'm just going to have fun and play hard-nosed football.
Are you a Ravens fan?
Yeah, I love the Ravens.
Do you have a favorite NFL player?
I like Ray Lewis a lot. He brings his passion to football every single week. He gets the troops going. He's the mentor, motivator. He makes everybody want to go out there and play football.
Are you a rah, rah guy with your team?
Yeah. On game day, I try to get them pumped up and everything. Even when I'm not on the field, I try to cheer the defense on. I try to get them fired up. I want everybody to have the same passion for it as me.
Are you superstitious?
Well, kinda (laughs). I guess you could say that. Every game day, I always bring my red sweat pants. The team gets on me for wearing them all the time on game day, but it brings us good luck. Ever since I've been wearing them, we've been winning and the times that I didn't wear them, we lost.
Do you have a favorite holiday tradition?
Spending time with family. I'm an only child. I have a lot of cousins. They're basically like my brothers and sisters. I go over their houses and I have a lot of fun with them all the time, joking around.
What's the one food you could eat all day?
The one food I could eat all the time is ham. I love my ham. That's the best food. I eat a lot of stuffing with it and turkey, so you know I was definitely pigging out this Thanksgiving. Hopefully, I didn't gain too much weight.
Do the coaches talk to you about that before Thanksgiving?
Yeah. We had a game the day after so we couldn't eat too much and go out there and be sluggish (laughs).