Most Ravens fans are looking forward to Sunday's home opener at M&T; Bank Stadium, but none more than Nic Hammer and Brendan Weinhold. The two will compete in the season's first high school Quarterback Challenge at halftime.
Hammer, a senior at North Harford, and Weinhold, a junior at Fallston, play for rival teams in Harford County, and both said they’re happy to continue the rivalry in the Quarterback Challenge.
"That does make it exciting," Hammer said, "because we are close county schools and it's always a great game, no matter who wins, either way. There’s a lot of competitive edge there, sometimes friendly, sometimes heated. It's a great rivalry.”
Said Weinhold: "I love playing North Harford. Most people think Bel Air is our rival, and while they are, when it's Fallston-North Harford, it's like Ravens-Steelers on Monday night. Last year, we were down by one and went for two [on the conversion] instead of trying for the tie and we lost, but it went down to the last second."
Hammer and Weinhold will compete to see who can complete a pass the farthest in the competition. Both said they can throw around 50 yards. On a really good day, Hammer said he might be able to go around 65 yards.
Both have completed long passes in their careers. Hammer threw one 50 yards in the first game of last season. Weinhold threw a 50-yard touchdown to teammate Brad Rose in the season opener last weekend.
Surprisingly, neither has been a quarterback throughout his football career. Hammer started out running the ball, and Weinhold was a lineman.
"I was usually a running back and I went back and forth between running back and fullback, but I used to always be known for being able to throw the ball really far and I had a good arm," Hammer said. "Then they finally tried me at the quarterback position, and ever since then, I’ve been a quarterback."
Like Hammer, Weinhold is in his second season as a starter for his high school team.
"In rec [football], I was an offensive and defensive tackle," Weinhold said. "And my last year in rec, the year before going into high school, we had a competition for quarterback and I didn’t get it for half the year and we started losing, so I came in and then we actually won the state championship."
While the two rivals don’t really know each other, they've squared off in several sports, and each professes great respect for the other. Although they will be foes Sunday, they have much in common going in.
"We have season tickets, so I always saw everybody doing it and I said to my dad it would be cool to do it, but when I heard I was actually doing it, it was almost shocking," Weinhold said. "So many people [are] watching. I’m excited to be on the field and see what the players see when they're down there, the environment and the atmosphere."
Hammer agreed, adding, "I'm definitely looking forward to the game, of course. I'm a big Ravens fan. I'm looking forward to the competition, and my family and friends will be attending the game with me, which will be fun for them, too."