Rayvon Johnson of Annapolis is one of six running backs among the finalists for the Dick Butkus Football Network C. David Baker High School Football Player of the Year award.
Johnson, a senior who is being recruited by Penn State among others, was The Sun's County Offensive Player of the Year and won the Rhodes Trophy given by the Annapolis Touchdown Club to the county's best player last fall.
Starting his second and final varsity season in 16th place on the Anne Arundel County career rushing list, Johnson has vaulted to seventh place with 3,150 yards. Johnson had 228 yards and five touchdowns in playing only the first half of Friday's 55-12 romp over Southern of Harwood.
With three regular-season games left as well as the playoffs for the Panthers (7-0), Johnson is now 74 yards (his career low this season) from tying Arundel's Troy Turner (3,224 yards, 1983-85) for fifth place. And Johnson is 210 yards away from third place, held by Meade's Kenny Walker (3,360, 1990-93).
As good a running back as the 5-foot-10 and 175-pound Johnson is, Penn State and other schools like him as a defensive back with his 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash.
Because of his impressive offensive numbers, Johnson's play at DB goes unnoticed by many. He rarely comes off the field, playing both ways as well as returning kicks and punts, and he never seems to tire.
A good example: the 21-17 Annapolis victory over Severna Park last week.
Late in the game, Jones Cable TV analyst Jerry Hartman, who spent 20 years as a college assistant at such schools as Colorado and Navy and also coached Meade for four seasons, said that Johnson, never coming off, would "eventually show fatigue."
Hartman's statement is probably true for most athletes, but Johnson is an exception and beat everybody down the left sideline for a 26-yard, game-winning touchdown catch with 34 seconds left.
"Rayvon is as good a defensive back as we've ever had at Annapolis," said Annapolis coach Danny Brown.
Looking back on Severna Park's 26-21 victory at previously unbeaten North County (6-1) on Friday in Ferndale, the Falcons (6-1) played superb pass defense for the first time this season.
Anyone who scouted the Falcons saw that they were vulnerable to the pass and coach J. P. Hines was the first to admit it. Run-oriented Annapolis beat the Falcons on three touchdown passes last week before Severna Park traveled to North County to face the county's most potent passing attack.
North County's run-and-shoot was averaging 32.2 points per outing in winning its first six games with junior quarterback Mike Pfisterer rewriting the school record book.
Pfisterer tossed three touchdown passes to tie the school career record (37) and set a school record for career passing yards (3,787), but was stymied by the Falcons defense in crucial middle quarters of the game.
The Knights drove 64 yards in nine plays on their first possession for a 7-0 lead, but didn't score again until the first four minutes of the final quarter and again with 50 seconds remaining.
"It helped that we controlled the clock with Derek Dixon [198 rushing yards] running his butt off, and our defense played really well," said Hines, whose staff designed a defense that put a lot of people in the box before breaking back.
Constantly pressuring Pfisterer and his receivers, the Falcons did something that most teams can't do against North County. They ran more offensive plays than the Knights, thereby keeping the latter's offense off the field.
Severna Park ran 76 plays to 59 by North County and had the edge in plays every quarter but the first (Knights, 19-14). The Falcons had a 42-33 edge in the middle quarters.
Hall of Fame
Tickets still are available for Wednesday's ninth induction ceremony of the Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame at Michael's Eighth Avenue.
Former basketball scoring star Steve Stielper (Andover, James Madison), track coach Ron Evans (Arundel, Old Mill), football/wrestling coach Buddy Hepfer (Arundel) and wrestling coach/wrestler Tyrone Neal (Southern, Maryland) will be honored.
For tickets, call Michael's at 410-768-7901.
The others played at Annapolis and all chosen in the third round by the Philadelphia 76ers: Keith Colbert (Virginia Tech, 1986), Dan Ruland (James Madison, 1983) and Dale Solomon (Virginia Tech, 1982).
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