Catonsville football coach Rich Hambor and star running back DeAndre' Lane debuted as bobble heads Friday night at Poly, but not in the usual manner.
As the Comets battled Poly, three-feet high poster-board heads of Hambor and Lane supported by sticks bobbed up and down amid about 2,000 Catonsville fans cheering their heroes on to the first regional football championship in school history.
Lane ran for three touchdowns and gained 281 yards in the 28-18 victory with his own big face looking on. Fortunately, the junior had already seen his larger-than-life self.
“I first saw it at the pep rally at school,” Lane said. “I was like, ‘What is this?’ When I first saw it, I just laughed. I didn’t know what to think. I was a little flattered though.”
The brainchild of sophomore soccer player Will Johnson and his friend Stevie Ruppel, the big heads didn’t come together until the night before the big game.
“We were watching a college basketball game and the student section had some heads of players and we thought it would be a good idea,” Johnson said. “Our high school, we haven’t had the best football history and this year we’ve been so great I think it’s important that we all come out and show our support, make it a home game even when it’s not at our place.”
After going to a professional printer that wanted to charge “an outrageous price,” Johnson said he and his mother decided to make the big heads themselves using a PowerPoint program.
They used pictures they found on The Baltimore Sun website and blew then up.
“We made them as large as a page,” Johnson said. “Then we drew a four-by-three grid on the picture. We copied that 12 times and on each individual slide we would crop out every square but one. Each slide would be one of the 12 squares from that grid. Each slide was the size of an 8 1/2 by 11 piece of paper, so when we put them together, DeAndre’s face is about three tall.”
Ruppel surprised Hambor with his big head Friday at school.
“I was teaching third period and [Ruppel] knocked on my door and brought it in. I just laughed. It was so fun to know the kids were having so much fun with this. It shows that whole student body really is enjoying this. It’s great.”
The Comets, Baltimore County Division 4A-3A champions, took four busloads of fans to the Poly game and Johnson said they’re hoping for eight busloads to go to Old Mill, the Anne Arundel County champion which won its first state football title two years ago.
“One reason I’m so happy about the game is that it’s another week of enjoyment,” Hambor said. “We probably had 2,000 fans there (at Poly). There were so many people at the game who have no relation to the school other than living in the community. I know people were there who don’t have children that go to the school, a lot of alumni and a lot of former players with their families."
Hambor, who has been coaching at Catonsville for 15 years, likes how the community has gotten caught up in the excitement of the team’s success. Along Frederick Road, a number of businesses, churches and the elementary school have signs supporting the team.
“I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio,” Hambor said, “and high school football is every Friday and it’s all anybody does. When I came here in '94, I was really hoping whenever I became a head coach to try to get just a little bit of that, that people base their whole weekend around. I think we’ve got a little bit of that. You’re not going to change the whole culture, but it’s something I’m really happy about.”
Look for a couple more heads to debut this week when the No. 4 Comets head down to meet No. 3 Old Mill in a clash of 12-0 teams looking for a berth in the Dec. 2 championship game at M&T Bank Stadium. Johnson said he will be back at work on likenesses of quarterback Aaron Jones and defensive end Julian Jones.
The players love the attention and the support from their fans.
“It plays a big part,” Lane said, “because they keep our spirits up and they keep us in the game. When they can outdo the home crowd, it’s great for us and for the home team it’s a little mind-boggling.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun