It was a high scoring affair Thursday evening as some of the top high school football players on the East Coast displayed their talents in the inaugural Chesapeake Bowl. The South team, featuring players from Maryland, Virginia and the District rallied from a 14-0 deficit to take bragging rights, 30-27, at Unitas Stadium.
“I’ve coached a bunch of all-star games and this was the best experience I’ve had, said Gilman School coach Biff Poggi who was the head coach of the South squad. “It’s a great super regional game because there are great players in the game and we had so much fun with our kids this week.”
Poggi watched Darius Jennings shine once again in his final local performance. He helped lead the South to victory as he compiled over 180 all-purpose yards, scored one touchdown and setup the go-ahead score.
“It was a great game,” said Old Mill’s Demond Brown who rushed for twenty yards on four carries for the South. “Two very tough and very competitive teams played tonight.”
“We came out a little flat, but our coaches told us that we needed to make some changes and we went and made as fun as possible and played our game, said Meade defensive back Keron Costen, who’s considering Old Dominion. “All together we all bonded, from our first practice, we just bonded.”
Jennings, who’s narrowed his final college choices to Ohio State, Wake Forest and Virginia, bolted 14 yards into the end zone for the South’s first touchdown. He later showed off his arm, connecting with Jordan Kittrell for 49 yards to set up a 35-yard field goal, giving the South the lead for good, 23-21, in the second half.
“It was a handoff and I run the jet sweep a lot,” said Jennings, Varsity Sports Network’s Offensive Player of the Year this past season. “I saw the defenders biting up so I knew that if I had the receiver open I was going to hit him deep.”
Some of Jennings’ best performances the past fall took place at Unitas Stadium. He had a season-best 267 yards against DeMatha Catholic in a 35-10 victory. In the Greyhounds’ second game, Jennings posted 144 yards with a rushing and passing score in a 28-7 rout of then-nationally ranked Good Counsel.
The South held the North team to only six points in the second half. Boys’ Latin’s defensive lineman Marco Jones, who has committed to the University of Virginia, helped the South in applying pressure against the North passing attack.
“All of them were very tough,” said Costen on defending the North wide receivers. “Our defensive backs all played together and our safeties all came down to help and it was very good competition.”
“It was a test for myself,” said Brown, arguably the top running back in Anne Arundel County. “It showed me that I could compete with anybody in the nation.”
St. Paul’s School fullback Gunnar Waldt, offensive linemen Hunter Goodwin (Gilman) and Ben Curtis (Calvert Hall College) also contributed to the South’s team triumph.
“I met a lot of new guys and made a lot of new long lasting friendships so hopefully everybody can keep in touch,” said Jennings, who’s next off to Florida for the Under Armour All-American game Jan. 4. “When we got down early our team fought back, played hard and we just stuck it out. It’s an all-star game so everybody is top competition so you just have to ball out, play hard and hope for the best.”
CLICK RELATED VIDEOS TAB FOR HIGHLIGHTS