Category: Feature

Milford Mill coach White makes name with Big 33 win; Knuttson remembers fallen McDonogh teammate


Former Wilde Lake coach Doug DuVall (left), Milford Mill's Reggie White and River Hill's Brian Van Deusen were all smiles after Maryland's victory in the Big 33 Football Classic in Harrisburg, PA Saturday night. White joined Van Deusen and DuVall in the victory circle as coach of Team Maryland.

by Derek Toney

Milford Mill Academy football coach Reggie White said every few months he receives fan mail or an autograph request.

Only one problem: It’s for the late Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive linemen, who died 14 years ago.

“Some of the stuff comes to my dad’s house,” said White, the longtime Milford coach who played in the NFL from 1992 to 1995. “I am not sure how they even got my dad’s address.”

This past Father’s Day weekend, White, a beloved figure in the state’s high school coaching fraternity, joined some impressive company. Maryland defeated Pennsylvania, 9-6, in the 61st Big 33 Classic in Harrisburg, PA.

White joins Brian Van Deusen, who has won four state championships at River Hill, and legendary coaches Doug DuVall (Wilde Lake) and Bill McGregor (DeMatha Catholic) to lead the Free State to victory in the senior gridiron all-star game called “The Super Bowl of High School Football.”

White played in the 1988 Big 33 Classic after  leading Milford Mill to the 1987 Class A state title. He starred collegiately at North Carolina A&T before playing for New England and San Diego professionally. White played in Super Bowl XXIX with San Diego, helping the Big 33’s streak of having an alum in every Super Bowl played.

White, a former defensive linemen, watched Maryland hold Pennsylvania without a touchdown for the first time in 14 matches. White’s son, Nicholas had a tackle Saturday.

"The best thing I did for this game was get great coaches to assist me. They did a great job getting these kids ready and adjusting to what was happening in the game,” said White, whose oldest son, Reggie Jr. (Monmouth), caught the winning in Maryland’s double overtime victory over Pennsylvania in 2014. “We didn't have all the kids going to big name schools, but if you watched, you saw we had great football players who played their hearts out."

It’s the fight in the dog, not the bark

In terms of Division I prospects, Maryland was again at a disadvantage Saturday. Ugo Obasi (Milford Mill/Virginia) was the only scholarship player.

Cooper McGeehan, whose 37-yard field goal with 5.2 seconds left in regulation was the game-winner, is attending to Pittsburgh and hopes to gain a walk-on spot at punter. Will Knutsson (McDonogh) will be a preferred walk-on at Penn State.

Pennsylvania had seven scholarship players on display Saturday, and 12 overall bound to Division I/BCS programs.

More props to Maryland’s defense

Saturday was not only the first time Maryland held Pennsylvania without a touchdown, it was first time the Keystone State failed to score a touchdown since 1966 (Texas 34, Pennsylvania 2).

Pennsylvania had just 74 total yards (52 passing, 22 rushing) and seven first downs Saturday.

Eric Weaver (Meade) had a tackle and two assisted stops, and Christian Benford (Randallstown) also had a tackle and two assists.

Mount St. Joseph’s Brandon Savage, Maryland’s MVP, had two tackles in addition to his critical end zone interception in the fourth quarter.

Don’t forget the offense

Matt McDonald is hugged by his mother after Maryland's win Saturday. The recent Mount St. Joseph graduate caught two passes and 50 yards and drew a late pass interference penalty in the final seconds, leading to the game-winning field goal.

It wasn’t pretty, but Maryland’s offense was able to impose its will in the fourth quarter Saturday.

Maryland totaled 230 yards with Perry Hall quarterback Tyler Holley netting 37 yards rushing, second behind fellow QB Doc Bonner (Quince Orchard/Air Force), who had 38.

Mount St. Joseph’s Matt McDonald had two catches for 50 yards. He drew a pass interference call with 10.6 seconds left in regulation, leading to Cooper McGeehan’s game-winning field goal.

Obasi finished with a team-best three catches (38 yards). Jamari Jones (Archbishop Spalding) finished with 45 all-purpose yards.

Remembering McNair

Will Knutsson felt a little lost when he arrived at McDonogh School two years ago.

Jordan McNair quickly changed that.

"I did not know anybody. He [McNair] was the first person to reach out to me," said Knuttson, who transferred from St. James School in Hagerstown. "He made feel at home."

Like McNair’s family, classmates and friends, Knutsson is still reeling from McNair’s death last week.

McNair, a 19-year old redshirt freshman offensive linemen for the University of Maryland, passed away June 13, two weeks after collapsing during a team workout May 29. After being hospitalized, McNair was underwent an emergency liver transplant and suffered cardiac arrest. He had been in critical condition since.

McNair, who played in the 2017 Big 33, appeared in one game for Maryland last season. At McDonogh, McNair was an All-State, All-Metro and All-MIAA A performer.

McNair was a beloved figure at the Owings Mills private school. Knuttson spent a lot of time, on and off field, with McNair and his fellow linemen.

"I remember my junior year, Jordan’s mom had all the linemen over for breakfast before the Gilman game. It was awesome," said Knuttson. "He’s a great guy. I’m going to miss him a lot."