After a month off, largely because a relatively small number of games were played between Nov. 28 and today, The Next Level makes its return -- and also says its farewell to this college football season.
With this eventful and exciting season rapidly coming to a close, and with no local players expected to take part in the few remaining bowl games, let's wrap up this first volume with the final statistics for every former area high school player who made it onto the field for a Football Bowl Division program this year.
But first, let's tie up some loose ends by recapping the performances of some of these players in games played since Nov. 28:Temple lost to UCLA, 30-21, in the EagleBank Bowl at Washington's RFK Stadium on Tuesday, but Baltimore native Matt Brown continued to be Mr. All-Purpose for the Owls. Brown, who attended high school at Peddie School in New Jersey and prepped at Milford Academy in New York, rushed 20 times for 83 yards (long of 29), including a touchdown run of 2 yards that extended Temple's lead to 21-7 in the second quarter. The freshman carried the ball on five straight plays at one point in the third quarter. Brown also caught two passes for 4 yards (long of 6) and returned three kickoffs for 69 yards (long of 30). Put away your calculators; that's 156 all-purpose yards in Brown's first bowl game. Not too shabby. Temple sophomore offensive linemen Pat and Sean Boyle (both Calvert Hall alums) also played in the Owls' loss to the Bruins.
West Virginia freshman Tavon Austin (Dunbar) also continued to display his versatility in the Mountaineers' final two games, a 24-21 victory over host Rutgers on Dec. 5, and a 33-21 defeat at the hands of Florida State in the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl at Jacksonville (Fla.) Municipal Stadium on New Year's Day. Against the Scarlet Knights, Austin made one reception for 9 yards and returned three kickoffs for 63 yards (long of 26). Against the Seminoles, he added one catch for 19 yards (on third-and-8 from the WVU 40-yard line in the third quarter), one kickoff return for 16 yards, and even contributed a solo tackle, bringing down Florida State safety Jamie Robinson after his interception of Mountaineers quarterback Jarrett Brown.
Rutgers senior Andrew DePaola (Hereford) made two tackles (one solo, one assist) of his own against West Virginia, and the wide receiver also recorded a solo tackle in the Scarlet Knights' 45-24 win over Central Florida in the St. Petersburg Bowl at Tropicana Field on Dec. 19.
Shaky Smithson (Douglass) was all the over field in Utah's 37-27 victory over California in the Poinsettia Bowl at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium on Dec. 23. The junior returned two kickoffs for 76 yards (including a long of 61), ran back two punts for a net of 2 yards (long of 4), caught two passes for a total of 18 yards, rushed once for a loss of 1 yard, and attempted a pass that fell incomplete. Smithson appeared to have completed a 42-yard pass to the Utes' David Reed in the third quarter, but the play was called back because Utah lined up in an illegal formation.
Safety Jerome Junior (Archbishop Curley) started in both Connecticut's 29-27 win over visiting South Florida on Dec. 5 and the Huskies' 20-7 triumph over South Carolina in the Papajohns.com Bowl at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday. The redshirt freshman assisted on one tackle against the Bulls; he made three solo tackles and broke up a pass against the Gamecocks.
In North Carolina's 19-17 loss to Pittsburgh in the Meineke Car Care Bowl at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., on Dec. 26, Tar Heels sophomore linebacker Zach Brown (Wilde Lake) made two solo tackles, including a stop of Panthers running back Dion Lewis for no gain on third-and-1 in the fourth quarter.
A trio of local players saw action in the Army-Navy game at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field on Dec. 12. Junior linebacker Jerry Hauburger (Eastern Tech) and senior holder-backup quarterback Greg Zingler (Severna Park) played for the Midshipmen, who prevailed, 17-3. Junior linebacker Jacob Bohn (Mount St. Joseph) took the field for the Black Knights. None of the three recorded any statistics.
That does it for individual game recaps. Let's move on to the 2009-10 season statistics.
In a year that featured several notable performances, Temple's Brown and West Virginia's Austin stood out on offense, while Buffalo senior free safety Mike Newton (Calvert Hall) and Connecticut's Junior were the biggest playmakers on defense.
Here are the final stats for each local player, listed alphabetically by school:
Jacob Bohn, Mount St. Joseph, junior linebacker – 12 games played; three rushes for 14 yards (long of 7, 4.7-yard average); two kick returns for 24 yards (12.0-yard average, long of 13); one solo tackle.
Lonnie Liggins, Hereford, freshman slotback – Six games played; nine rushes for 43 yards (4.8-yard average, long of 17) and one touchdown.
Mike Newton, Calvert Hall, senior free safety – 12 games played; 85 tackles (52 solo, 33 assists); one sack for a loss of 22 yards; two interceptions returned a total of 30 yards; two fumbles recovered and returned a total of 24 yards; one forced fumble; eight passes broken up.
Dane Robinson, Calvert Hall, senior defensive tackle – 10 games played; 13 tackles (five solo, eight assists); one sack for a loss of 13 yards; 2.5 tackles for losses (minus-14 yards total); one pass broken up.
Jerome Junior, Archbishop Curley, redshirt freshman safety – 13 games played; 48 tackles (23 solo, 25 assists); one interception returned 14 yards; one pass broken up.
Sheldon Bell, City, junior wide receiver – 12 games played; five receptions for 27 yards (5.4-yard average, long of 13); one blocked kick.
Horace Miller, Dunbar, freshman linebacker – 11 games played; five tackles (four solo, one assist).
A.J. Francis, Gonzaga Prep (Severn native), redshirt freshman nose tackle – 12 games played; 31 tackles (12 solo, 19 assists); one sack for a loss of 8 yards; 1.5 tackles for losses (minus-9 yards total); one forced fumble; one pass broken up; one blocked kick.
Eric Franklin, Archbishop Curley, freshman defensive back – Five games played; four tackles (two solo, two assists); one sack for a loss of 8 yards.
Jamari McCollough, Randallstown, senior strong safety – 10 games played; 31 tackles (14 solo, 17 assists); one interception returned for 0 yards; one sack for a loss of 1 yard; 3.5 tackles for losses (minus-4 yards total); one forced fumble.
Dave Stinebaugh, Perry Hall, freshman tight end – One game played; no statistics.
Hakeem Sule, McDonogh, senior linebacker – Six games played; assisted on two tackles.
LaQuan Williams, Poly, junior wide receiver – 12 games played; 10 receptions for 99 yards (9.9-yard average, long of 24) and one touchdown; two rushes for minus-11 yards (minus-5.5-yard average, long of 1); 0-for-1 passing.
Raymond Cotton, Meade, freshman quarterback – One game played, no stats.
Jerry Hauburger, Eastern Tech, junior linebacker – Three games played; no stats.
Greg Zingler, Severna Park, senior quarterback-holder – 13 games played; 1 rush for minus-2 yards; one 2-point conversion.
Zach Brown, Wilde Lake, sophomore linebacker – 13 games played; 47 tackles (30 solo, 17 assists); three tackles for losses (minus-11 yards total); one interception returned for 0 yards.
Shelton McCullough, Randallstown, junior cornerback – Four games played; two tackles (one solo, one assist).
Carl Fleming, Franklin, freshman linebacker – One game played; no stats.
Andrew DePaola, Hereford, senior wide receiver – 13 games played; five tackles (three solo, two assists).
Alec Lemon, Arundel, freshman wide receiver – 11 games played; 29 catches for 295 yards (10.2-yard average, long of 33) and one touchdown; one solo tackle.
Andrew Robinson, Calvert Hall, senior tight end – Nine games played; one solo tackle.
Nick Speller, Edmondson, sophomore left tackle – Nine games played.
Pat Boyle, Calvert Hall, sophomore offensive lineman – Nine games played.
Sean Boyle, Calvert Hall, sophomore offensive lineman – 12 games played.
Matt Brown, Peddie School and Milford Academy (Baltimore native), freshman running back – 11 games played; 89 rushes for 529 yards (5.9-yard average, long of 71) and five touchdowns; five catches for 18 yards; 16 kickoff returns for 385 yards (24.1-yard average, long of 47); one punt return for 8 yards.
Kwame Johnson, Parkville, junior defensive back – Eight games played; eight tackles (six solo, two assists); one fumble recovered and returned for 5 yards.
Shaky Smithson, Douglass, junior running back-wide receiver – 10 games played; 27 rushes for 99 yards (3.7-yard average, long of 22) and three touchdowns; 13 catches for 100 yards; 22 kickoff returns for 543 yards (24.7-yard average, long of 61); 13 punt returns for 123 yards (9.5-yard average, long of 40); 2-for-7 passing for 10 yards.
Raynard Horne, Overlea, junior running back – Eight games played; one catch for 13 yards; eight tackles (four solo, four assists).
Joey Ehrmann, Gilman, redshirt freshman linebacker – 12 games played; 25 tackles (14 solo, 11 assists); 3.5 sacks for a total loss of 26 yards; 5.5 tackles for losses (minus-29 yards total); one forced fumble; one pass broken up.
Tavon Austin, Dunbar, freshman wide receiver-running back – 13 games played; six rushes for 47 yards (7.8-yard average, long of 19) and one touchdown; 15 catches for 151 yards (10.1-yard average, long of 58) and one touchdown; 17 kickoff returns for 426 yards (25.1-yard average, long of 98) and one touchdown; two solo tackles.
Terence Garvin, Loyola, freshman defensive back – 10 games played; 10 tackles (three solo, seven assists).
And there you have it. That'll do it for The Next Level for 2009-10 ... for football, that is.
However, now that college basketball season is about to be in full swing after the holiday break, I'm planning to recap the top 10 performances by men's and women's basketball players from local high schools each week. Stay tuned.