Baltimore tops Metro in the 2023 BTC All-Star Classic
The Baltimore squad takes a 12-11 lead in the all-time series as the Classic moves to Under Armour's The Stadium at the House
by Derek Toney
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – With a beautiful new location, the Baltimore Touchdown Club had its 27th annual senior All-Star Classic, Saturday with the Baltimore and Metro squads looking to take a foothold in the series.
Baltimore was able to regain bragging rights with a 35-15 victory at Under Armour’s pristine “The Stadium at the House” facility in Port Covington. New Town quarterback Carlos Harrison threw two touchdown passes for the Baltimore All-Stars.
The Baltimore squad scored the opening 21 points en route to claiming a 12-11 all-time advantage in the longest-standing senior all-star football game in Maryland (first game played in 1996). Baltimore has won the last three meetings.
Harrison was selected Most Valuable Player for the Baltimore squad. He completed four of five passes for 75 yards, including touchdown passes to Dundalk’s Joey Kasprzak and Tryique Jones from Meade.
“We just practiced hard throughout the week,” said Harrison. “We just came out and executed.”
After a three-and-out on its opening possession, Baltimore scored on its next five series to secure a 35-3 advantage early in the third quarter. Shamar Johnson (Northeast) and Franklin’s Devin Rollins each had a touchdown run and Mervo’s Ray Moore threw a scoring pass to Challenger Valentine from Dundalk.
The Metro squad fought back in the second half with a touchdown run from St. John’s Catholic Prep’s Zion Ntemi and Westminster’s Kyrece Walker’s touchdown pass to Ryder Johnson (North Hagerstown). Walker was named Most Valuable Player for the Metro, finishing nine for 16 for 101 yards.
Walker, who led Westminster to the Carroll County Athletic League title during the fall, cherished the opportunity Saturday.
“This is probably one of the greatest experiences playing football,” said Walker. “Just getting to play with guys as talented as you at the highest level.”
Baltimore took advantage of good field position to open the scoring Saturday. Starting from the Baltimore 46-yard line, Harrison connected with Rollins for 15 yards, putting the ball at the Metro 39.
After a two-yard run by Rollins, Harrison put a throw down the sidelines to Kasprzak, who brought it in for a 37-yard touchdown with 4 minutes, 51 seconds remaining in the opening quarter. On the ensuing possession, Baltimore’s defense got a 4th down stop, setting up its offense inside Metro territory.
Five plays later, Jones pulled down Harrison’s pass in the end zone for a 19-yard score, pushing Baltimore’s lead to 14-0. Johnson took over for Harrison as “QB1” on Baltimore’s next possession and connected with Valentine for 30 yards, putting Baltimore back into Metro territory.
Johnson called his number and went untouched to the end zone from 27 yards, completing a six-play, 76-yard series. Broadneck’s Chris Coleman converted his third point-after kick and Baltimore had a 21-0 advantage with 8:29 remaining before halftime.
South Hagerstown’s Damon Breland gave the Metro a much needed boost, returning the ensuing kickoff 67 yards to Baltimore’s 24. The Metro offense didn’t get much traction and settled for a 38-yard field goal from Fallston’s Jason Roberts with 6:38 left in the second quarter.
The Metro momentum didn’t last. On the next play from scrimmage, Moore, who led Mervo to the Class 4A/3A state championship last weekend with a late fourth quarter touchdown throw, threw a 31-yard pass to Broadneck’s Eli Harris, putting Baltimore right back on the Metro side of the 50.
On 4th-and-goal, Moore hit Valentine on a slant from four yards, pushing Baltimore’s advantage to 28-3 with 1:20 left. The Metro pushed the ball from its 46 to Baltimore’s 3 in the final seconds, but a shotgun snap went through the hands of Urbana quarterback Tanner Rupinta to end the first half.
Baltimore had no rust to start the second half as Perry Hall’s Dallas Conway returned the kickoff 47 yards to the Metro 44. Rollins, who helped Franklin to the 3A state quarterfinals, did the rest, scoring on a 17-yard run, capping a four-play drive with Rollins accounting for 40 of the 44 yards.
Trailing 35-3, the Metro got a big play on defense late in the third as Patterson Mill’s Aiden Myers recovered a fumble at Baltimore’s 26. Walker’s throws to Breland and Johnson advanced the ball to the 1 where Ntemi got across the goal line for Metro’s first touchdown with 2:16 remaining in the third quarter.
The Metro, with a running clock in the fourth quarter, was able to get another touchdown. Walker, who threw a 37-yard pass to Davian Pryor (Frederick) to spark the drive, found Johnson from six yards with 3:35 left to play.
Atholton’s Daniel Ogordi intercepted a pass for the Metro, which got a 50-yard pass from Rupinta to Breland, putting the ball at Baltimore’s 17 in the final minute. Milford Mill defensive end Dashawn Fields knocked the ball out of Rupinta’s hand and St. Paul’s School’s Jamal Cole recovered for Baltimore to end it.
Dundalk coach Tom Abel, who guided the Baltimore squad, said the entire experience was positive.
“It’s a tremendous group of kids, very respectful,” said Abel. “Great energy all the time. It’s an honor to be a head coach in this game. Hopefully, we’ll continue to elevate this game.”
Guilford Park coach Tom Montag, who led the Metro contingent, echoed Abel’s sentiments.
“It’s a great experience because you get to be a positive influence with them,” said Montag, who will lead Guilford Park, the newest Howard County school, into its inaugural varsity season next year. “They want to learn and they’re like sponges because they want to play in college next year.”