We’re up to No. 3 as The Baltimore Sun reveals its Top 5 high school football teams one-by-one through this week leading up to the full preview on Friday. Calvert Hall nabs the third spot.
Look for No. 2 later today and the countdown will conclude with No. 1 on Thursday. The entire Top 15 poll along with players to watch will be published Friday in The Baltimore Sun and on baltimoresun.com.
3. Calvert Hall
Coach: Donald Davis
Last season: 9-3, No. 4
Postseason: MIAA A Conference finalist
Key Players: QB Colar Kuhns, Sr.; RB-SR Russell Neverdon, Sr.; TE Erik Evans, Sr.; LB-DE Rahshaun Smith, Soph.; RB-S Nick Smith, Sr.; LB Stephen Grebeleski, Sr.; RB-LB Kevin Nickel, Sr.; OL-DL Spencer Tuveson, Sr.
Outlook: The Cardinals have finished second to Gilman in the past two A Conference championships after winning the title in 2010 when there were no playoffs. The coaches voted to discontinue the A Conference playoffs this season, so whoever wins the regular season will be the champion. That may be tough for the Cardinals, who lost 31 players, but there is certainly potential to carry on at or near the top of the conference.
Calvert Hall will have a chance to build toward its biggest game, the 94th showdown with Loyola in the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Bowl. The Cardinals aim for their fifth straight win after Kuhns hit then-senior Logan Kurek for an 83-yard game-winning touchdown that won last year’s game, 21-14, with a minute to go.
Kuhns, a hard worker with a big arm, started for the first time last season and threw for more than 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. He will be the cornerstone of the offense once again. The Cardinals graduated some strong receivers, but they bring back several targets, including Neverdon and Evans. A host of younger players also awaits its chances.
Speedy Neverdon will be on the move most of the game playing running back, slot receiver and maybe defensive back as well as returning kicks and punts.
The Cardinals also have a stellar but young corps of additional defensive backs in three juniors, cornerbacks Dionte Austin and Micah Keels and safety Juantez McRea.
“We’re obviously very young,” Davis said. “We’re even younger than I thought. Even some of the seniors are young. They haven’t been in some of those circumstances, so they’re
inexperienced. It’s definitely going to take some time, but the potential is definitely there. I’m excited for this group of kids as they move forward.”
Davis said a lot of the burden will fall on the coaching staff with such a young group and they learned a lot in the season-opening 17-7 loss to St. John’s in Washington, D.C. Saturday.
The Cardinals struggled with St. John’s tough defensive line and that helped limit Calvert Hall to one touchdown, a run by sophomore fullback Ben Oliver. They need to bolster the offensive line to spring the running game so Kuhns can get good opportunities through the air.
Despite the loss, Davis said he likes his players’ toughness and that bodes well for the future.
“I thought as a team we played tough,” Davis said. “I thought as a defense we especially stood up to the challenge. Sometimes when the offense struggles, the defense can break and then the levee breaks and you lose by more than you should. I felt like these guys played hard throughout.”
The Cardinals face another tough non-league foe in their home opener Saturday night at 7:30 when they host Trinity Catholic from Ocala, Fla. Trinity opened its season last weekend with a 45-15 win over in-state rival Crystal River.
After that, the Cardinals travel to Franklin on Sept. 7 before hosting Good Counsel on Sept. 13.