Welcome to the 2013 Enoch Office/Varsity Sports Network preseason Top 20 football poll. VSN ranks the top teams in the Baltimore region which covers public and private schools in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Cecil County, Harford County and Howard County.
1. Gilman School Greyhounds
2012 record: 9-2 (MIAA A Conference champions; No. 1 in final VSN Top 20)
Coach: Biff Poggi (17th season; 112-36)
Returning starters – 10
Key returning starters – Robert Branch, Jr., strong safety, 6-2, 200; Antonio Dupree, So., running back, 5-10, 210; Sheldon Johnson, Sr., offensive guard/offensive tackle, 6-3, 265; Ellison Jordan, So., defensive tackle, 6-0, 250; Melvin Keihn, Sr., defensive end, 6-3, 225; Kai Locksley, Jr., quarterback, 6-4, 200; Arien Mayeux, Sr., offensive guard, 6-2, 260; Bijon Rhett, Sr., running back, 5-9, 185; Chibuzo Ukandu, Sr., offensive tackle, 6-3, 270; Troy Vincent, Sr., wide receiver/cornerback, 5-11, 185;
Key returning players – Chase Campbell, Sr., tight end/linebacker, 6-3, 210; Dorian Maddox, So., running back, 5-10, 200; Alonzo Mayo, Jr., wide receiver/strong safety, 5-10, 180; Benjamin Robbins, Sr., offensive line/defensive line, 6-7, 305; Stephen Spanellis, So., offensive line, 6-6, 300; Taylor Swindell, Sr., linebacker, 5-10, 180; Trevor Tomlinson, Sr., tight end/linebacker, 6-2, 210
Key newcomers – Amyhr Barber, Jr., wide receiver/cornerback, 5-9, 175; John Fitzgerald, So, wide receiver/linebacker, 6-4, 205; Devery Hamilton, So., offensive line/defensive line, 6-6, 260; Jelani Roberts, Jr., wide receiver/cornerback, 5-6, 170
Outlook – Despite graduating 24 seniors, Gilman’s reloaded for another run at the MIAA A Conference championship. The Roland Park school has back 22 letter winners who helped it to a second straight league crown and consensus No. 1 ranking in the area.
Locksley, who played wide receiver last season, has taken over for consensus All-State quarterback Shane Cockerille (University of Maryland). Locksley, son of Terps’ offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, had 221 total yards in the Greyhounds’ 20-14 season-opening victory over Good Counsel last Friday at Unitas Stadium.
“He has a high ceiling,” said Gilman assistant coach Henry Russell.
The running back stable is deep with Rhett, Dupree and Maddox. Branch, a three-year starter, highlights the receiving corps featuring Vincent, Roberts and Fitzgerald, who caught the winning touchdown last week. Roberts, who clocked 4.4 in the 40-yard dash at the University of Virginia combine earlier in the summer, had a 59-yard punt return for a score against Good Counsel.
Ukandu, Johnson and Mayeux. all two-year starters are back on the offensive front. Robbins and Spanellis fills out a front that averages 281 pounds.
The defense graduated VSN’s Defensive Player of the Year Micah Kiser (Virginia) and state Defensive Player of the Year Henry Poggi (Michigan), but Keihn, arguably the area’s No. 1 senior is ready to help fill the void. The explosive end (13 quarterback sacks in 2012) holds more than two dozen offers including from Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, Washington State, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Keihn is joined up front by Ellison, who had an impressive freshman campaign in 2012. Campbell, Swindell and Tomlinson will lead the linebackers while Vincent, a Penn State commit and son of the former NFL All-Pro, has Branch and Mayo in the secondary. Mayo made the final tackle of the game as Gilman denied Good Counsel inside the Greyhounds’ 5-yard line.
The Greyhounds have nationally-regarded Manatee from Florida and New Jersey’s Paramus Catholic before starting their pursuit of a third straight MIAA A Conference title. Gilman went back-to-back-to-back from 2004 to 2006 (tri-champ with Loyola Blakefield and McDonogh School in 2006).
Aug. 23 vs. Good Counsel (20-14 win)…Greyhounds rallied from 14-0 deficit to knock off state’s No. 1 team.
Sept. 1 vs. Manatee (13-1 in 2012) at University of Maryland…Gilman takes on Florida Class 7A state finalist as part of Brothers In Arms Classic.
Sept. 8 vs. Paramus Catholic (10-2 in 2012) at Rutgers University…New Jersey school, ranked No. 3 nationally by USA Today, has arguably the nation’s top player in Michigan commit Jabrill Peppers.
Sept. 20 vs. Anacostia (8-4 in 2012)…Anacostia reached DCIAA’s Turkey Bowl last year.
Oct. 4 vs. Mount St. Joseph (4-7 in 2012)…Gilman has won last four meetings.
Oct. 12 at Loyola Blakefield (5-6 in 2012)…Greyhounds have outscored Dons, 193-35, over last four decisions.
Oct. 18 vs. Archbishop Spalding (5-5 in 2012)…Gilman scored season-high 49 points in victory last year.
Oct. 25 vs. Calvert Hall College (10-3 in 2012)…Greyhounds defeated Cardinals in 2012 and 2011 MIAA A championship match.
Nov. 2 vs. St. Frances Academy (1-0 in 2013) at Patterson Park. First-meeting with MIAA A newcomer.
Nov. 9 at McDonogh School (1-0 in 2013)…Gilman has won last five decisions and leads series, 56-33-5.