A plethora of running backs led by William Beverly, the Anne Arundel County Sun Player of the Year, and the county's all-time single-season passing leader, Johnny Ray of North County, head this year's Anne Arundel County Sun All-County Football Team.
Beverly, who led the Patriots to their first-ever playoff berth in high school football with 20 touchdowns and 1,663 all-purpose yards, was one of several outstanding running backs in the county this year.
Joining Beverly in the first-team backfield are John Jennings of Severna Park (one of six Falcons named to the first team), Daniel Wu of Severn and Arundel's explosive Rodney Stevens, who was named as a kick returner.
Jennings, a junior and one of only five underclassmen among the 28 players named to the first-team offense or defense, rushed for 1,350 yards and 13 touchdowns in leading the Falcons to the county championship and into the state 4A playoffs.
Severna Park rolled to 7-0 in county 4A league play, with Jennings usually carrying the load. Built like a fireplug, the 5-foot-6, 210-pound Jennings combined speed and quickness with power and the biggest shoulder pads in the league to spark the Falcons' ball-control offense.
Even in Severna Park's 34-3 loss to defending state champion Springbrook of Montgomery County in the state quarterfinals, Jennings rushed for 86 yards.
"John takes a lot of hits but keeps coming back for more," veteran Falcons' coach Andy Borland said.
Wu's spectacular running accounted for 1,405 yards and 13 touchdowns as the Admirals ended in a three-way tie for the Maryland Scholastic Association C Conference title with St. Mary's and St. Paul's of Baltimore County.
Possessing the same game-breaking qualities and ability to score from anywhere on the gridiron as the other first-team backs, Stevens was an all-purpose performer for the Wildcats of Arundel.
Not only did he run for almost 900 yards and seven touchdowns, he also grabbed 12 passes for 205 yards and four more touchdowns. The versatile Stevens, who also ran back kicks, kicked a field goal and 10 extra points for a total of 79 points, third in the county behind Beverly (122) and second-team running back Charlie Finamore of St. Mary's (82).
At quarterback, Ray of first-year North County rewrote the county record book with 2,020 yards passing and 16 touchdowns. The 2,020 yards just missed being a state record, while the 16 touchdown passes ties the county record set by Southern's Bob Holman in 1971.
Ray went down to his final game for the 8-2 Knights of Coach Chuck Markiewicz with a chance to set a state record but had only 25 yards in the air in a 20-0 victory over Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore. Meanwhile in Prince George's County, Junior Bynum of McNamara High in Forestville threw for more than 300 yards in his final game and finished with a state record 2,230 yards.
Completing 161 of 337 passes while being intercepted 20 times, Ray easily topped the county record of 1,633 yards passing set by Brooklyn Park's Dave Fajerski in 1988.
In most any other season, Old Mill's Eric Scott would have been the first-team quarterback, but Ray's prolific numbers were too much. Scott, the second-team quarterback, hit on 71 of 151 passes for 1,028 yards and a school-record 13 touchdowns while being intercepted only eight times.
Scott's 13 touchdown passes erased the previous Patriots' record of 11 set by David Beck in 1983.
"Eric is the best we've ever had and our offense was not all passing, but when we had to pass, he got the job done," said Old Mill's Pete Regala, the 1990 Coach of the Year.
Quarterbacks with high numbers usually have great receivers to throw to, and Ray certainly had his own posse.
Sophomore Damon Martin of North County was the county's leading receiver with 41 catches for 446 yards and three touchdown strikes from Ray. Martin was named first-team split end, while his junior teammate, Troy Ross, was named second team.
Ross was the county's No. 2 catcher with 34 receptions for 392 yards and six touchdowns.
Two other receivers on the first team also were excellent blockers for their teams: Darrick Moran of Severna Park (on the second team last year) and Brian McElhenny of South River.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Moran, who is considered to be a Division I prospect, grabbed 17 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns for the Falcons.
McElhenny, a 6-4 and 190-pounder, was the big-play man for the 6-4 South River Seahawks of Coach Dave Summey. He had 24 receptions for 440 yards and four touchdowns.
Across the strong first-team interior line is nothing size, save for the hard-nosed center, the 5-8, 190-pound Eric Crapster of Glen Burnie.
"He's a tough little guy, small, but some kind of tough," Severna Park coach Andy Borland said.
Borland's premier offensive front produced two first-team linemen in tackle Kevin Johnson (6-0, 250) and guard Mark Miles (6-1, 205). Miles, who is extremely quick for a big man, is only a junior.