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Randallstown wins first Ravens Halftime Combine, a relay highlighting multiple skills

Randallstown won the first Halftime Combine of the season at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday with Marcus Newton (10), Marquise Wells (1), Mike Akinleye Jr. (30), coach Ray Wright, Destin Asokuarami (55) and Montana Roberts (7). Halftime Combines will be held at each Ravens home game with the team posting the fastest time of the fall winning new Under Armour jerseys for the whole team. Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens.
Randallstown won the first Halftime Combine of the season at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday with Marcus Newton (10), Marquise Wells (1), Mike Akinleye Jr. (30), coach Ray Wright, Destin Asokuarami (55) and Montana Roberts (7). Halftime Combines will be held at each Ravens home game with the team posting the fastest time of the fall winning new Under Armour jerseys for the whole team. Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens.

Randallstown coach Ray Wright likes the new halftime competition for high school football players the Ravens' unveiled at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday – and not just because his Rams won.

Instead of the passing-and-catching Quarterback Challenge of recent years, the competition has changed to the Halftime Combine. Five players, including linemen and defensive players, now have a chance to show off their skills in a five-part relay.

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Sunday at halftime of the Ravens-Bills game, lineman Destin Asokuarami started the Rams off with the tire flip. Running back Michael Akinleye Jr. then took the ball, wove through five agility sticks and sprinted 20 yards. He handed off to defensive back Marquise Wells who backpedaled 10 yards. Quarterback Marcus Newton took the ball at the 30-yard line and passed to wide receiver Montana Roberts, who made a one-handed catch while managing to keep his feet in the back of the end zone.

"It really demonstrates in a quick way some of the football skills of the kids," Wright said, "the backpedaling, the running through the cones and then the quarterback throwing a nice pass that has to be in the end zone, so it really shows kids' different skill levels. You have to have a little bit of strength, a little bit of agility and most importantly, team effort. Everyone was encouraging each other to do the best they could."

The Rams finished in 33.19 seconds to edge the team from Patapsco (34.25 seconds).

Four of the five Rams had never been to a Ravens game. Even though Roberts had, because his uncle D.J. Bryant used to be on the practice squad, he wasn't quite prepared for how he would feel on the field at halftime.

"The atmosphere at Ravens' stadium, it was energetic," Roberts said. "Everybody was into the game and once we won, it was like a sigh of relief, kind of. I'm not going to say I was nervous, but it was just different performing in front of such a big crowd."

The senior, who also plays defensive end, had the extra pressure of having to make the catch to seal the win.

"Once the ball got in the air, in my head, it was just like, 'I do this day-in and day-out, so it's just another day to make a catch,'" Roberts said. "It was in the back of the end zone, so I had to tip-toe and we couldn't use our cleats, so tip-toeing in shoes in the back of the end zone was little different."

Wright had seen the Quarterback Challenge while attending Ravens games in the past. That competition had two quarterbacks throw two passes, each to a different receiver, with the longest completion winning. The Rams coach, whose team had never competed in the Quarterback Challenge, said the Halftime Combine engages the crowd more.

"It seemed like the fans were into it," he said. "The kids really got a lot of attention, a lot of congratulations. Patapsco was great sports. We sat right behind them at the game and we knew a lot of their kids from when we played them two years ago, so the camaraderie was really good. Everything you wanted out of the event, we got and it makes it special when you win. The kids were coming off of being 2-0 and we had kids who had never been to a Ravens' game, so this was great for them."

For the Patriots, lineman Harry Goldberg started off, followed by running back Aldrin Garriques, linebacker-defensive back Andrew Thompson, quarterback Tyler Vogt and wide receiver Darien Mosley.

Players on both teams received commemorative T-shirts and the Rams earned a $500 gift card for their school's athletics department. The team that posts the fastest time in the eight Halftime Combines scheduled for Ravens home games will receive new Under Armour jerseys for their entire squad.

Here's the schedule for the rest of the year:

Oct. 2: Edmondson vs.Reginald Lewis

Oct. 9: Archbishop Spalding vs. St. Paul's

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Nov. 6: Glenelg vs. Hammond

Nov. 10: Patterson Mill vs. Manchester Valley

Nov. 27: New Era vs. Southwestern

Dec. 4: Annapolis vs. Severna Park

Dec. 18: Middletown vs. Brunswick

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