Franklin coach Anthony Burgos looked like a genius opting to go for it on fourth-and-20 late in the third quarter of the Class 3A state final tied at 7-7. Jacquez Adams hit Steven Smothers with a 27-yard touchdown pass and the rest, as they say, is history. (See Most Impressive Playoff Run above.)


Aberdeen freshman Stephanie Jones picks up slack after sister Brionna tears ACL

When Stephanie Jones arrived on the Aberdeen girls basketball team last winter, just about everyone knew they were in for a treat watching the exceptionally-talented 6-foot-1 freshman. It wasn't until January -- when her sister Brionna tore an ACL and was sidelined for the season -- that Stephanie really asserted herself.

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Able to post up, run the floor, shoot the 3, excel on defense -- you name it, the All-Metro freshman did it. She scored 33 points and had 21 rebounds in the regional championship win over City and averaged 19.4 points in the playoffs as the No. 2 Eagles won their second straight Class 3A state title. Stephanie led the Eagles in scoring with 17.3 points and in rebounding with 9.2.

Losing Brionna, the All-Metro Player of the Year as a junior, was a huge blow to the Eagles, because at 6 foot 3, she simply dominated the opposition. However, with Stephanie and senior Jimmia McCluskey leading the way, the Eagles reinvented themselves as a running team and after a brief adjustment period, they took off.


North Harford girls basketball coach Lin James retires with 608 career victories

Lin James always wanted to keep a low profile even as she rose to the top of the Baltimore area's all-time list of girls basketball coaching victories. She was interested in teaching her players, not accepting coaching accolades.

When she won her 600th game in December 2012, she did so with as little fanfare as possible, although she was presented with a banner for the Hawks' gym, a white rose from each player and a white T-shirt with "600 wins" in green letters.

She told Randy McRoberts of The Aegis: "I'm relieved to get this [win], so we can move on to playing basketball. I'm not a fan of all this, but I appreciate everything."

In 2004, she tried to keep her impending 500th career win a secret, but a couple weeks before she got it, she was driving to work and noticed this on the marquee in front of school: "When will Mrs. James get 500?"

James is more than 100 wins ahead of her friend Linda Kilpatrick, the Southern coach who ranks second with 494 wins.

When the time came for James to retire last summer after 48 years and a 608-229 record, she wanted it kept under wraps. She didn't tell many people. She just faded away from coaching the sport she loves and once played at Tennessee. Now, she'll spend plenty of time watching it -- especially her granddaughter Kayla's games.

George Petrides wins 250th career football game

City coach George Petrides never advertised his approaching milestone either. Another coach who is a teacher at heart and just enjoys working with teenagers, Petrides won his 250th game with a 20-14 overtime win at Mervo. His players had no idea.

Knights quarterback Troy Robinson was flabbergasted when told of the milestone, but he recovered in time to sum it up perfectly after the Mervo win: "He's an excellent coach. He's been coaching at City for a long time and he's been winning for a long time and today just showed the type of coach he is and the type of team he creates."

Petrides took over at City in 1975 and he now has 252 wins, 138 losses and one tie. That puts him No. 2 behind Good Counsel coach Bob Milloy and his 382 wins on the list of winningest active coaches in Maryland.

"It means I've been here a long time, first of all," said Petrides with a laugh after the Mervo win. "I've appreciated every moment of it. I have loved coaching football at City College and working with these young men. You couldn't ask for a better life."


Sophomores assert themselves

Stephanie Jones wasn't the only young player to impress during 2013. She may have been the youngest, but she had a lot of company from players just a year older. Sophomores had a big impact in football and girls basketball. Three earned first-team All-Metro status in each sport, something that likely never happened before.

In football, Franklin wide receiver-return man Steven Smothers made big play after big play and earned comparisons to former Dunbar star Tavon Austin for his speed and elusive moves. Boys' Latin punter Dominic Maggio averaged 44.7 yards with a 36.5 net and he had a good teacher -- his dad Kirk Maggio who kicked at UCLA. Gilman defensive tackle Ellison Jordan destroyed offenses with 50 tackles and 11 sacks and always drew double coverage to try to contain him.

In basketball, Milford Mill guard Dionna White averaged 17.8 points and 4.4 assists but her basketball IQ was already through the roof, leaving you shaking your head at her perfect decision-making especially with the game in the balance. Annapolis Area Christian guard Taylor Murray had top Division I coaches hot on her trail as a freshman and averaged 21 points last season before earning a spot on the U.S. U16 national team. McDonogh point guard Danielle Edwards is the consummate ball handler, making the Eagles nearly impossible to press while also contributing as much offense as needed.

Three more sophomores also made the 2012-2013 All-Metro girls basketball second team -- Roland Park's Lindsey Edwards, Patterson Mill's Qalea Ismail and McDonogh's Dajah Logan. Like their first-team classmates, they continue to impress as juniors this winter.

In lacrosse, the senior class dominated, so no sophomores made first-team All-Metro, but three -- Maryvale's Miranda Ibello, Century's Kristen Yanchoris and McDonogh's Elizabeth George -- made second team.

I can't wait to see what they -- and all of the other varsity athletes -- accomplish in 2014. The highlight reels should be fabulous.

Happy New Year!