The area high school football season gets underway Friday evening with two games followed Saturday with a big-time matchup of MIAA A and Washington Catholic Athletic Conference hopefuls.
Here’s a quick look at the coming matches.
Maryland School for the Deaf vs. St. Vincent Pallotti
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Fairland Regional Park, Laurel
Pallotti opens its season with non-league matchup. The Panthers (5-5) of the MIAA C may not have star linemen Derek Pittman (6-foot-4, 285 pounds) in the lineup after suffering a knee injury in a recent scrimmage.
The Panthers offense will be led by junior quarterback Rafi Correa. Running back/defensive back Alan Bright was a MIAA C all-star selection as a sophomore last fall.
Maryland School for the Deaf have won the National Deaf championship nine of the last 10 years. MSD went 10-1 last season including victories over Baltimore Lutheran (38-6) and Poolesville from Montgomery County.
Gilman School at Archbishop Spalding
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
It’s a matchup of champions as defending MIAA B champ Spalding takes on arguably the area’s best team. The Cavaliers (10-1 last season) have seven starters led by senior running back KK Smith, one of the area’s most dynamic performers.
The Severn school has seven starters back on defense with Smith (linebacker), J.D. Ison (defensive back) and linebacker Zach Waller earned all-conference honors in 2009. The Cavaliers aren’t intimidated by playing an A Conference foe, beating Calvert Hall College, last season en route to an 8-0 start.
Gilman, however, may be on a different level from any team in the Baltimore region. The defending MIAA A champs are sparked by quarterback Darius Jennings, the premier recruit in the area. Last season, Jennings accounted for more than 2,800 yards and 35 touchdowns.
The Greyhounds are deep in the backfield with Kenneth Goins, Cyrus Jones and Melvin Keihn while Hunter Goodwin, a Wake Forest commit, and Brian Gaia heads up the offensive line. Gaia, Goins, Henry Poggi and Devon Porchia highlight a veteran defensive unit.
In 2007, Gilman handled the Cavaliers, 55-19, in Severn.
St. John’s (D.C.) at Calvert Hall
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Though a non-conference game, a lot of eyes will be watching. Expectations are high for the Cardinals, coming off an 8-4 season including victories over Gilman and 2009 MIAA A champ Loyola.
Calvert Hall College coach Donald Davis has his most talented team since returning to his alma-mater three seasons ago, led by Adrian Amos, Brandon Neverdon and CJ Williams on offense with Ben Curtis and Dan Yarborough in the trenches.
St. John’s (5-5 last season) return 11 starters from last season including Division I defensive line recruit Kevin McReynolds. Reynolds (6-2, 285) has offers from ACC, Big East, SEC, Big Ten and Pac 10 programs.
The Cardinals have dropped six straight and eight of the last 10 to the Cadets, including a 19-3 decision last year.
Saturday’s contest is the first of five battles, pitting the MIAA A versus the WCAC. Next weekend at the inaugural I-95 Challenge at Unitas Stadium, McDonogh plays Gonzaga (D.C.), DeMatha Catholic takes on Loyola Blakefield, Mount St. Joseph has Bishop McNamara and Gilman plays Good Counsel in the showcase match.