Keyontae Rheubottom and Kywon McCray had no trouble joining forces when they arrived at Green Street Academy despite playing Pop Warner football against each other for years.
Friday afternoon, they led the Chargers to an 18-0 victory over New Era in the Ravens RISE High School Football Showdown at Babe Ruth Field on the campus of the former Cardinal Gibbons High School.
Rheubottom, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior who starts at quarterback, ran for a touchdown and threw for another. McCray, a 6-foot-3, 172-pound junior, ran for a touchdown and lost a passing touchdown to a holding call.
While they both play wide receiver and both play defense, they don’t mind sharing the quarterback spot.
“We’re both humble and we both want each other to be great in a game,” Rheubottom said.
“It all starts at practice,” McCray said. “At practice, we push each other the hardest we can til we can’t push each other [any] more. It makes practice hard and makes the game easy.”
The Chargers (5-1) jumped to a 6-0 lead in the first eight minutes Friday when Rheubottom hit Khyree Elliott with a 44-yard touchdown pass.
“The beginning of the game, I was playing a little slow. But once I got the ball and ran it to the right and [saw} he was open and we scored that touchdown, that woke me up,” said Rheubottom, who ran 18 times for 52 yards and was 3-for-5 for 69 yards passing.
Chargers coach Darrell Alt said his team is known for its big plays.
“It was nice to get up on them quick,” Alt said. “because they are a team that has played in a lot of close games and been successful with them. So I thought with those pass plays and a touchdown to a sophomore, that was big.”
New Era’s last four games have been decided by a touchdown and the Jaguars (3-3) have won three of them. They appeared ready to tie Green Street on the first drive of the second quarter. Quarterback Makhai Fulton hit Xavier Rivers with a 32-yard pass that would have set the Jaguars up on the Chargers 5-yard line, but Rivers was called for offensive pass interference.
“I truly believe they missed that one,” said New Era coach Jimmy Little, “because my player was actually looking up at the ball and never extended his arm and I felt as though he got bumped. That changed the momentum. It was tight game at the time and that would have given my young men some energy.”
After that, the Jaguars turned the ball over three straight times. Rheubottom picked off a pass, the Chargers recovered when their kick touched a New Era player and Tariq McCaffity recovered a fumble — all before the half.
Rheubottom’s pick set up Green Street’s second scoring drive.
Elijah Gorham, McCaffity and Montrel Garrison combined to run for 39 yard on the drive while Rheubottom finished it off with a 1-yard burst over the goal line for a 12-0 lead with 4:27 left in the first half.
Each team turned the ball over once in the second half, but the Chargers could not convert after Mckheil Lyle’s fumble recovery and the Jaguars could not convert after Tonto Goode’s interception.
McCray finished the scoring with an 18-yard touchdown run with 5:27 left after Lyle upset the previous New Era drive with a sack and a solo tackle.
New Era plays in Baltimore City’s Division II, but Green Street, a public charter school in Cherry Hill, is in just its third year and plays an independent schedule.
Alt, whose team has played teams from Western Maryland and Pennsylvania, battled close with Edmondson for a half before falling 48-28 two weeks ago. He said he would like to eventually play in the city league.
“Our motto is, ‘We carry the bricks,’ in building the football program and these (seniors) have definitely done that to give us such a great foundation to build on,” Alt said.
“We’ve done it piece by piece and I think it’s a very tough thing to be able to come in and be competitive in Baltimore City right away. And that’s evidenced by the great programs like Edmondson, like Dunbar. So we like to think we’re heading in that direction.”
As part of the Ravens RISE Showdown, each school received $1,500 from the Ravens for its athletics program. They also received two footballs — one commemorating the Showdown — which Alt said will mean a lot for a small school like his to have in its trophy case — and a ball signed by a Raven.
Alt asked his team who should get the ball signed by linebacker Matthew Judon.
One player said, “Give it to a freshman.”
After thinking for a minute, Alt had a better idea. The player who has the highest GPA at the end of May will take home the ball, a keepsake of a memorable day for a young program at a small city school.
NE 0 0 0 0 — 0
GS 6 6 0 6 — 18
GS—Elliott 44 pass from Rheubottom (pass failed
GS—Rheubottom 1 run (pass failed)
GS— McCray 18 run (run failed)