Arbutus Big Red football pushes winning streak to three games

Defense, like this played by Mario Epps, right, and Mount St Joseph graduate and Arbutus Brendon Twilley, has been key to the Big Red's success this season.
Defense, like this played by Mario Epps, right, and Mount St Joseph graduate and Arbutus Brendon Twilley, has been key to the Big Red's success this season. (Daniel Kucin Jr., Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Arbutus Big Red semipro football coach Ulander Giles knows his team is good, and he isn't afraid to say it. When asked which team is the best in the 12-team Mason Dixon Football League, Giles responded without hesitation, "I would say us."

Giles might be right.


After opening the season with a 28-22 loss to the North Neck Rivermen, Arbutus has been on a roll with three straight lopsided victories.

The latest was a 34-0 thumping of the Virginia Hornets at Arbutus Middle School Saturday as wide receiver James Lowe led the way with two touchdown catches on passes from quarterbacks Stewart Long and Marcus Parham.

The Big Red will look to continue their winning streak with another home contest against the Tri-County Crusaders on Aug. 9.

"Without a doubt, I have the most talent I've ever had," said Giles, whose team won a league title in 2009 and lost in the final in 2010, 2012 and 2013. "We are two deep at every single position. At some positions, we are three deep. With the depth I have, I don't have play my starters the entire game. I had offensive and defensive linemen going both ways in the past."

Good luck finding a weakness on the Big Red.

Giles and his players rave about the offense and defense.

"This is the most athletic team I have seen in four years," said Catonsville High graduate Brian Chapman, a product of the Arbutus Golden Eagles Youth football program. "The offense is really playing at the top of its game. We have a good quarterback competition, more talent at running back and depth at receiver, which we haven't had."

Chapman could be the Arbutus' early-season MVP for an offense that has scored 21 points or more in every game.

He ranks among the league leaders in rushing with 599 yards running behind an offensive line of center Gavin McMorris, tackles Citrine Warren and Davon Watkins and guards Alan Booker and Demetrius Jones.

His biggest asset may be his toughness, but he's also a good pass catcher.

"In our first game against the Rivermen, he had a 4-yard run, where he broke four tackles for a touchdown," Giles said. "He is very strong and very quick. And he really knows how to read the blocks of the offensive linemen."

Chapman rushed for nearly a 1,000 yards last year to lead the Big Red to an 10-3 record.

"He got rewarded for that season," Giles said. "He got to go to an All-Star game in Las Vegas, the Casino Bowl. It has semipro football players from all over the country."

For all the standout offensive players the Big Red have, the team's 4-3 defense can't be overlooked.


It could be one of Arbutus' best since the Big Red defense was ranked No. 3 in the country in 1998.

"This could be the best ever," said Giles, a sixth-year coach. "I really mean that. We have outstanding defensive linemen and linebackers. We have a lot of veteran corners. We have nine interceptions."

The 6-foot, 195-pound Chris Tolson has five interceptions, including returning three for touchdowns. He brought two back of 10 and 80 yards in the 21-0 victory over the Virginia Silverbacks on July 26.

He's joined in the secondary by standouts Tim Fobbs and Mario Epps.

"Our secondary guys are very good athletes and they are smart," Giles said. "They understand football. They are not just back there running around."