Player of the Year
Raytron Leak, Edmondson, Sr., RB/K: It sounds cliche, but Leak did it all. He rushed for 1,514 yards and 17 touchdowns and caught 15 passes for scores that totaled 1,460 yards. Entering the playoffs, he had averaged 43 yards per punt, with a long of 68 yards vs. Walbrook, and had booted all but 10 of his kickoffs out of the end zone. He returned three of nine interceptions for scores, three punts for touchdowns and one kickoff for another. Playing with a hamstring pull, Leak caught a 72-yard touchdown pass to beat Walbrook, 6-0. All in all, Leak, a 6-foot, 230-pounder who runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, accounted for 39 touchdowns. He also had eight sacks as a hard-hitting linebacker, and two fumble recoveries that led to long drives -- one for a score. The Austin, Texas-based Rivals100 recruiting service gave Leak the highest rating in the state for a running back, which puts him No. 30 among the nation's top 100 running-back recruits. Leak's stock will soar should he get the qualifying SAT score, as expected, in the next few months. He is expected to be included among the nation's top 25 running backs, which would make him a high school All-American, when Rivals100 releases its newest ratings in a couple of weeks. Said Geoff Ketchum of Rivals100, "It's rare that you see a player with those kinds of numbers", and Leak's ability on both sides of the ball, all over the field. Coaches like Leak's size, speed, ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, his willingness to block and his overall attitude. Leak, who has had eight scholarship offers, said he has narrowed his choices to Maryland, Michigan, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Boston College.
The first team
Rob Abiamiri, Mount St. Joseph, Sr., WR: The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder, who runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, has accepted a full football scholarship at Maryland. Abiamiri, who carries a 3.4 grade average and scored 1,010 on his SAT, caught 28 passes for 779 yards and eight touchdowns, rushed for two scores and 294 yards, and returned a kickoff for another touchdown for the 14th-ranked Gaels.
Matt Belcastro, Patterson, Sr., lineman: The 6-4, 290-pound four-year starter led the Clippers to a share of their sixth Baltimore City championship, their second straight in the City's East Division, and a berth in the 4A state semifinals. Belcastro, a two-way player who also had nine sacks, is effective as a pulling- or drive-blocker. A second-team All-Metro pick last season, he was part of an offense that averaged more than 350 yards, primarily on the ground. Behind him, Tony Smithson (1,483 yards, 25 TDs) ranked 15th among the state's top rushers.
Ryan Boyle, Gilman, Sr., QB: Boyle (5-11, 185) was 76-for-107 passing (71 percent) for 1,220 yards and 14 touchdowns, and rushed for 704 with eight scores to lead Gilman to its second consecutive Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference crown, its second straight No. 1 area ranking and a school-record 21 straight victories. In his three-year varsity career, Boyle, who began calling his own plays midway through last season, has totaled 3,593 passing yards and 2,051 rushing. In college, the two-time All-Metro lacrosse player and 4.0 student has committed to playing that sport, in addition, perhaps, to football, at Princeton.
Eddie Colbert, Edmondson, Sr., QB: The 6-3, 200-pounder was 83-for-142 (58 percent) passing for 2,415 yards and 32 touchdowns, and has elicited scholarship offers from Maryland, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Syracuse. Colbert, who passed for more than 1,200 yards and 12 scores as a junior, has been rated the state's third-best QB -- and America's 33rd-best Division I recruit at his position -- by Rivals100.
Joe Cromwell, Western Tech, Sr., WR: The 6-2, 170-pounder's 4.38-second speed, clocked at different combines over the summer, along with his 37-inch vertical leap have aided him in eliciting full-scholarship offers from Virginia Tech, James Madison and Temple. Cromwell caught 28 passes this season for 662 yards and 10 touchdowns and rushed for another. With 83 career receptions for 1,595 yards and 18 scores, he's also attracted interest from Maryland, Kent State, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Richmond and Connecticut.
Mike Faust, Gilman, Sr., RB: The 5-11, 225-pound Faust rushed for 523 yards and 14 scores and had one reception for a touchdown despite rarely playing in the second half. A two-time All-Metro heavyweight wrestler who is ranked No. 1 nationally, he also had five sacks and recovered three fumbles as a nose guard. A punishing runner who can bench-press 380 pounds, Faust has a 3.9 grade average, scored 1,340 on his SAT and is being recruited by Harvard, Princeton and Pennsylvania for football and wrestling.
Mike Hall, Parkville, Sr., RB: The 6-foot, 195-pounder, who runs a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, led the state with 2,145 yards and 23 touchdowns in 10 games. Hall's best efforts were his five touchdowns in a loss to 1998 Class 3A state runner-up Eastern Tech, and a 307-yard, one touchdown effort in a season-ending upset of then-No. 12 Dundalk. He broke several school records en route to helping Parkville (6-4) to a school-record for single-season victories, and has finished with 617 career carries for 4,541 yards and 34 touchdowns -- all school records.
Adam Hendrix, Hereford, Sr., lineman: The 6-4, 265-pounder with an A average is being recruited by several Ivy League schools after having led a Hereford offense that averaged nearly 400 yards per game. An excellent technical lineman offensively, Hendrix, an All-Metro pick last season, also had 11 sacks on defense for Hereford, which is 45-4 over the past four seasons and reached four straight state semifinal games.
Richard Johnson, Milford Mill, Sr., All-Purpose: Although he is rated No. 4 nationally among cornerback recruits by Rivals100, Johnson has played every position on the field except lineman. He passed for 1,109 yards, 18 touchdowns and nine two-point conversions, and rushed for 1,138 yards, 10 scores and three extra points. He returned three kickoffs for scores and, as a defensive back, had three interceptions. A 4.3 speedster in the 40-yard dash, the 6-foot, 175-pound Johnson has 3,343 career passing yards for 41 touchdowns, and 2,430 rushing yards for 28 scores. He's had several full-scholarship offers, and is the state's No. 1 recruit as far as Virginia Tech is concerned.
Steve Lawston, Eastern Tech, Sr., WR: The 6-2, 205-pounder, who runs a 4.5-second 40, caught 28 passes for 1,055 yards and 12 touchdowns and, as a defensive back, returned two of five interceptions for scores. Lawston also returned four kickoffs for touchdowns, including two on runs of 85 and 90 yards. Schools such as Virginia Tech, Maryland, West Virginia and Georgia Tech are interested in Lawston, whose brother, Anthony, is a scholarship player at Georgia Tech.
Lou Lombardo, Calvert Hall, Sr., lineman: The 6-6, 290-pounder is headed for the University of Maryland, having committed early to a full football scholarship. Lombardo's size and mobility are what attracted the Terps, said his high school coach, Jay Robinson. Rivals100 lists Lombardo as an All-Mid-Atlantic Region pick and considered him the state's best offensive lineman during the preseason.
Justus McLeod, Edmondson, Sr., WR: He packs a lot of wallop for being 5-10, 155 pounds. Offensively, McLeod had 54 receptions for 1,309 yards and 13 touchdowns, including a 93-yarder in a state-title loss to Urbana. Defensively, he returned three of seven interceptions for touchdowns. McLeod used his 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash to return three punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns. A track competitor, too, McLeod has interest from Wake Forest and West Virginia.
B.J. Page, Catonsville, Sr., TE: The 6-4, 210-pounder has aroused interest from Maryland, Towson, Delaware and Boston College, along with several Ivy League schools. In nine games for the 8-2 Comets, Page caught 16 passes for 429 yards and nine touchdowns. He averaged 26 yards per catch and one receiving touchdown per game. A strong, lean competitor, he has 4.6 speed in the 40 and is capable of outleaping many defensive backs.
Chad Rogers, Dundalk, Sr., lineman: A very disciplined blocker, Rogers is the main reason the Owls -- ranked as high as No. 12 in the area -- had two running backs who accumulated more than 1,000 rushing yards each. The 6-6, 255-pound two-way player had numerous pancake blocks, offensively, but also played well defensively. He had 36 tackles, two of them for losses, and recovered a fumble. Richard Tuohey, Gilman, Sr., lineman: The 6-foot-4, 248-pound tight end and lineman is a devastating blocker and an unselfish player. Listed as a tight end on the Greyhounds' roster, he has excellent hands, having grabbed 13 receptions for 175 yards and one score.
Player of the Year
Starrett Esworthy, Gilman, Jr., LB: Esworthy is the second straight Gilman player to earn this distinction and the second junior since Dunbar's Tommy Polley, now at Florida State. The six-foot, 218-pound linebacker bench-presses 365 pounds and squats 525. "Starrett hits like a ton of bricks and is excellent in pass coverage," said coach Biff Poggi. The Carroll Countian led the Greyhounds in tackles (78, six for losses), was second with eight sacks, caused two fumbles and recovered two fumbles. Esworthy, who has done a 4.7-second, 40-yard dash, runs the 200 and 400 meters in track. A B-plus student, he already has attracted interest from Stanford, Northwestern, Michigan State, Syracuse and Maryland. A full-time starter near the end of last season, Esworthy was entrusted with being the defensive quarterback for a team which allowed only 3.3 points a game on average and shut out five opponents. Esworthy is the primary reason the Greyhounds allowed only 44 total yards of offense in a 36-0 win over Mount St. Joseph and only 61 in a 43-10 rout of two-time MIAA B Conference champ McDonogh. "Starrett was always responsible for shifting our line, which we did an awful lot, and also for [calling] the blitzes that we wanted get into against the different formations," said defensive coordinator Stan White. Gilman has won 21 straight games to remain No. 1 in The Sun from the beginning to the end of the last two seasons.
The first team
Chad Allen, Mount St. Joseph, Sr., Back: The powerful, 5-10, 201-pounder blitzed his way to eight sacks and recovered two fumbles for touchdowns. He made 128 tackles and had two interceptions in a 35-0 win over Loyola.
Jon Berrier, St. Paul's, Sr., LB: The 6-1, 240-pound Berrier, a second-team All-Metro selection last season, averaged over 15 tackles a game as a linebacker and nose guard for the MIAA B Conference runner-up. Berrier, who bench-presses 365 pounds and squats 645, is Harvard's top recruit as a defensive end prospect. He made 123 solo tackles, 17 for losses and six sacks, and had 30 assists. Yale, Princeton and William & Mary also have expressed interest.
Mykle Bouie, Randallstown, Jr., LB: A 6-2, 230-pound linebacker with power and speed, Bouie should blossom into one of the state's top college recruits. He rebounded from an early-season wrist injury to be a run-stopper. A second-team All-Metro pick last season, Bouie, who runs a 4.6-second, 40-yard dash, ranked second on the team with 135 tackles (75 solo stops) and in sacks, with five.
T. C. Cosby, McDonogh, Sr., LB: The 6-2, 225-pounder clocked a 4.6-second 40-yard dash at a summer combine at Penn State. That, along with his power (a 335-pound bench press) was enough to elicit a full scholarship from the Nittany Lions. Cosby led McDonogh to its third straight MIAA B Conference title and a 21-game winning streak against league opponents. He had six of his 20 career sacks and two of his 12 interceptions this season. One recruiting service ranks the 3.0-student with a 1,190 SAT 56th among the nation's top 100 Division I linebacker recruits.
Darryl Dorsey, Dunbar, Sr., back: Three of his eight interceptions were game-enders, and he ran three more back for touchdowns for the City East Division co-champs. Dorsey also returned two of five fumble recoveries for scores. On offense, he finished with nearly 3,500 all-purpose yards and 17 touchdowns, including 1,813 receiving yards for five scores. Dorsey also returned three punts for touchdowns and three kickoffs for scores.
C. J. Feldheim, Hereford, Sr., lineman: The 6-4, 230-pound Feldheim ranks 65th nationally among defensive end prospects, but his size and versatility -- he also wrestles and plays baseball -- make him a candidate for tight-end, linebacker or H-back in college. Feldheim had 14 sacks -- two more than last season -- and 15 other tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He ranked third on his team with 66 tackles, recovered three fumbles and had several tackles for losses. All of that came before his season ended in the Bulls' ninth game because of a broken leg. As a first-year running back, he also rushed for nearly 800 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is an A student and a former All-Metro selection who looks to be Hereford's first Division I college recruit. Feldheim, who runs a 4.5-second, 40-yard dash and bench-presses more than 300 pounds, has several full scholarship offers, including one from Maryland.
Vince Fuller, Woodlawn, Sr., back: Fuller turned down full scholarship offers from Maryland, Temple and Duke to accept one from Virginia Tech, which is recruiting the 6-2, 175-pounder as a wide receiver. Fuller, a 3.2-student with a 1,040 SAT, clocked a 4.4-second, 40-yard dash and, as a defensive back, had two interceptions, one for a touchdown, and broke up several passes. As a quarterback, Fuller amassed 1,623 passing yards for 13 touchdowns and rushed for three touchdowns.
Hugh Green, Gilman, Sr., lineman: The 6-4, 215 pounder had a penchant for getting to the quarterback, making 10 sacks and five of his 32 tackles for losses. Green had one of his best efforts against Mount St. Joseph, a 36-0 victory in which he recorded a sack for a safety. Green is getting looks from Brown, William & Mary and Amherst.
Muhammad Howard, Milford Mill, Sr., LB: A hitter and a speedy player, he led the Millers with 98 tackles, five fumble recoveries, five interceptions, three sacks and a blocked punt. At 5-11, 195 pounds his power and speed (a 4.6-second, 40-yard dash) were keys in shutting down Dundalk and Randallstown in critical league victories en route to winning the Baltimore County 3A-4A league title. Howard moved to middle linebacker against Dundalk and had two interceptions vs. Randallstown.
Eric King, McDonogh, Sr., back: The 5-10, 175-pounder clocked a 4.4-second, 40-yard dash at a summer combine at Penn State and bench-pressed 250 pounds. The favorable impression he left there and made this season have elicited full scholarship offers from Wake Forest, James Madison and Temple. King had 45 tackles, returned two of five interceptions for touchdowns, blocked three punts and recovered two fumbles as a defensive back. Offensively, he rushed for five touchdowns, had eight more scores as a receiver, and returned a kickoff for a score.
Quan Mitchell, Randallstown, Sr., LB: Not only did the undersized Mitchell, a second-team All-Metro pick last season, lead the Rams in tackles with 140 (100 solo), he also was Randallstown's No. 1 receiver as a tight end with 11 receptions for four touchdowns. The 6-2, 180-pound Mitchell averaged 42 yards a catch, making acrobatic grabs in victories over Parkville and Dundalk and in a season-ending Class 3A state semifinal loss to runner-up Thomas Stone, of Charles County. Mitchell also is a state qualifier as a wrestler.
Jason Murphy, Edmondson, Jr., lineman: The 6-3, 240-pound defensive end has deceptive speed (a 4.6-second, 40-yard dash). His 30 sacks doubled his total of a season ago, when he earned second-team All-Metro honors. Murphy's 156 tackles (108 solos) led the Redskins, who had allowed on average just over five points a game through the regular season with four shutouts. Murphy doubled as an offensive lineman and rarely came off of the field. He played linebacker at times, as well.
Matt Stoffel, Mount St. Joseph, Sr., lineman: man: The 6-1, 206-pound defensive end has speed, power and athletic ability. Stoffel led the Gaels with 16 sacks and was a key in a victory over Baltimore City East Division champ Dunbar, whose linemen averaged more than 300 pounds. A second-team All-City/County defenseman in lacrosse, Stoffel has signed with Johns Hopkins to play that sport.
Coaches of the Year
Pete Pompey, Edmondson: The 25th-year coach's squad went from unranked during the preseason to being the area's No. 2-ranked team and the state's 13th-ranked program after an 18-game winning streak that landed the Redskins in the Class 2A state title game. Edmondson (12-1) finished as state runner-up to Urbana of Frederick County, ranked No. 2 in the state, but not before winning its second straight City West Division crown. The Redskins averaged over 40 points entering the state title game while allowing only five points, on average, but many criticized what they considered a weak regular-season schedule. But in playoff wins over City East Division champ Dunbar (39-6) and Howard County titlist Howard (37-15), the Redskins erupted for 62 second half points, all after Pompey "made adjustments" in response to opposing defenses. All this with an undersized, underclassmen-laden offensive line, including 155-pound long-snapping center, Curtis Mitchell, "who stepped up when called upon and didn't make a bad snap all year long," said Pompey, 59. "This was a hard-working team whose players will make something of their lives. I'd go into combat with them." Two of Pompey's players, running back Raytron Leak and quarterback Eddie Colbert, were nurtured into Division I prospects rated Nos. 30 and 33, respectively, among the top 100 players at their positions. Pompey's 182 career wins ties him with Patterson's Roger Wrenn as the city's two winningest active coaches. Edmondson became the third city program to reach the state finals since city teams joined the state association in 1993, joining Dunbar, winner of two titles in three title-game berths, and Poly, a runner-up in '93.
Jason Blind, Western Tech: In only the program's fifth year, Blind turned a 1-9 record of a year ago into an 8-2 finish that had the Wolverines narrowly missing the Class 2A state playoffs. The third-year coach, whose previous best victory total at the school was five games against an independent schedule, also developed the program's first Division I football prospect in wide receiver Joe Cromwell and could have another budding star in running back-defensive back Domonique Foxworth. Cromwell is considering several full-scholarship offers. Western won its first two games, lost to Catonsville and then won a school-record four straight games before suffering its only other defeat, to Hereford, and winning its final two games. Among Western's victories was its first ever over Overlea. "We broke seven offensive records, tied two offensive records, tied two defensive records and broke four special-teams records," Blind said. "I came into the season thinking we can turn it around, but it was the kids who went to camps and worked hard in the weight room."
The Baltimore Sun accepts nominations for its Athletes of the Week Sundays 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 410-332-6200 or 1-800-829-8000, Ext. 6200.
Only coaches can nominate Athletes of the Week.