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Towson football squad opens season with strong running game

Towson High head football coach Ryan Pittillo returns to lead the Generals after they finished 8-2 last season.
Towson High head football coach Ryan Pittillo returns to lead the Generals after they finished 8-2 last season. (File photo)

Coming off a season when the Towson High football team narrowly missed the playoffs, the Generals open at home today at 3 p.m. against perennial powerhouse Hereford.

The matchup features two teams hungry for a playoff berth after they both finished fifth in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association standings last year, when only the top four teams reached the postseason.

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This year’s regular season schedule was decreased to nine games, but teams eligible for the playoffs in each region expanded to eight.

The Towson-Hereford game should feature two strong running games.

The Generals return senior running back Damone Moore (5-feet, 10 inches, 200 pounds), who was the feature back for the 8-2 Generals last year in his first season playing in the backfield.

“He had the best off-season I’ve seen,” Towson coach Ryan Pittilo said. “He never missed a day of off-season workouts. He’s really trimmed down. He looks great.”

Moore also started at middle linebacker last season.

Junior Nick Grant was on varsity as a sophomore and he will go both ways, playing running back and defensive end.

Sophomore Reese Stevenson joins the Generals backfield and will play defensive end or linebacker.

“He was the starting running back on our JV last year,” Pittilo said. “He’s a big kid, real fast.”

Making the Generals running game even more dangerous is junior quarterback Kaiyu Grant.

“He’s a running-style quarterback,” Pittilo said. “Last year, on JV, they ran the triple option and this year he will be in our shotgun.”

Senior captain Karon Ball is the top returning receiver and is a mainstay at safety.

Senior Dezmon Meyers plays wingback and outside linebacker.

“He will be a big help for us this year,” Pittilo said.

Senior Jayquan Jenkins was the starting cornerback last season and he should see action at wide receiver. Junior DiQuann Baker is slated for action at receiver and starting cornerback.

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Jamiel Carlton is expected to make a big impact on the offensive line after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament last year.

“He missed a lot of the season last year, but I would say he is our most outspoken captain,” said Pittilo, of the tackle and nose guard. “He’s just a kid who is great to have in the locker room and great to have on the team. He’s the strongest in the school and works out really hard.”

Senior Cory Gray is a repeat starter on the offensive line and junior veteran Tom Welling moves from center to tackle.

“He (Welling) is very undersized, 150 pounds, maybe 160 pounds, but he has a great work ethic,” Pittilo said. “He’s fast off the ball. If he were a kid you could make 300 pounds he would go straight Division I.”

Senior Paul Lentz is a veteran slated to play play center and inside linebacker.

In a scrimmage against City, Lentz had an interception for a touchdown with under a minute to play to break a 6-6 tie.

One of the toughest positions to replace is former kicker and punter Leighton Bechdel, who is a freshman punter for West Virginia University.

“We lost Leighton to West Virginia and he is literally one of the best I’ve seen,” said Pittilo, who hands the kicking chores to Evan Heller. “I’m very confident in our kicking game still with Evan.”

Last year, Towson lost its first two games (Chesapeake, AA and Perry Hall) before reeling off eight straight victories and Pittilo likes the way the veterans have meshed with the newcomers this season.

“They are good kids and they are fun to coach, so it really has been enjoyable,” Pittilo said. “They are program guys. It’s cool to see these kids coming up from JV making a big impact on varsity.”

On the field, he wants his team to be tougher then its opponents.

“The coaches are very intense and it kind of feeds into the players as far as we are more physical then anybody we play, we are tougher mentally,”Pittilo said. “We will never get stopped on fourth and one and that is kind of our mentality.”

The biggest obstacle is a tough schedule.

After opening the season at home, the Generals play road games at Parkville, Perry Hall, Woodlawn and Patapsco.

They host defending state champion Franklin on Oct. 12, play at Dundalk the following week and finish at home against Kenwood (Oct. 26) and rival Dulaney (Nov. 2).

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