With a pair of 300-pound linemen on its roster and a starting offensive line consisting of five seniors, expect Catonsville to pound opposing defenses with the running game.
If that formula works successfully, second-year coach Jaren Maybin won’t have to endure the stress he and the team faced last season when they lost starting senior quarterback Javon Williams to a broken arm in the first half of the Comets’ season-opening 32-6 victory over Sparrows Point.
The versatile Williams had rushed for a touchdown and thrown a touchdown pass, while accounting for 84 combined yards in limited action.
The captain for the opener was lost for the season and the Comets didn’t win another game.
This year’s offense features a stable of backs with un-tapped potential.
“He’s our biggest football recruit right now. He’s got interest from some Division I teams,” said Maybin, noting he attended college camps in the off-season. “He has looked a lot quicker than he did last year. He picked up some things over the summer that are really starting to show and we are expecting big things out of him.”
The starting left tackle is senior Evan Rogers (6-0, 185).
“Evan Rogers is a really good lacrosse kid and he figures out a way to use his body to his advantage because he is not a huge kid and he’s more lean than he is big, but he uses his intelligence to put himself in a good position.”
Manning the interior line are senior guards Brandon Hull (5-11, 182) and Steve Johnson Jr. (5-10, 170).
“We are expecting Jacob to be the starter if Ricky is in other kind of skill position roles,” Maybin said. “Ricky can play any skill position offensively and defensively.”
Senior Deshawn Dixon, the Most Valuable Player for the Comets basketball team last season, will be a valuable performer at receiver and tight end.
“We are hoping he can step up and play a big role in the run game as a blocking wide receiver and if we need to throw the ball up to him, he’s got a good frame (6-5) where hopefully, we can throw it up and go get it,” Maybin said.
Seniors Marciss Lawson (6-0) and Parker Douala (6-5) are other big targets returning from the varsity.
Lawson caught the first touchdown of the season last season and Douala had a 35-yard reception, caught a two-point conversion and had two sacks in the opener.
Junior wide receiver Eldred Boria (5-10), up from JV, flashed in the scrimmage against Surrattsville with two touchdown catches and senior first-year player Rameez Howard could see action on the outside.
While many of the starters on offense will play both ways, Maybin does have some defensive specialists.
Senior Jamie Taylor is moving from defensive end to nose guard.
Senior Zach Einolf is a returning starter who moves from safety to outside linebacker.
The coaching staff also has high hopes for sophomore safeties Josh Williams and James Azbil. Williams was the unsung hero on the JV last season.
“He always puts himself in the right position and he is always around the ball,” Maybin said.
Azbil was a standout defender for the lacrosse team in the spring.
“He is a really good lacrosse player and we are excited to use his athleticism in football.”
The kicker is sophomore Jack Krug, who moves up from JV.
Maybin appreciates the way the 2019 Comets have absorbed his philosophy of embracing the game and learning.
“Whenever we hit the football field we want to be excited about it, and for us to experience a little bit of success against Surrattsville, even dealing with the heat leading up to that scrimmage, we were just excited to be on that football field,” Maybin said. “Since day one, we’ve been preaching to them to always be learning and to always get better and we can leave that field knowing that we got better that day.”
The Comets open the season with two games on the road — at Centennial, on Friday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. and at Hammond on Sept. 13.
The home opener is Friday, Sept. 20 against Western Tech at 6:30 p.m.
They are followed by games at Perry Hall (Sept. 27), home against Pikesville (Oct. 4), at Dulaney (Oct. 12), home against Loch Raven (Oct. 17) and at Pikesville (Oct. 25).
“We are excited about how our schedule shapes up, so our competition is a little bit more similar to where we have been the last couple years,” Maybin said. “It should be good for us, but we always want to put our kids in the best situation as high school coaches.”
The Comets play nine regular-season games, but the regional playoff field will be expanded to eight teams.