Today's second Chesapeake Football Classic offers Dwight Banks a chance to play one last football game at Memorial Stadium before he enters college in the fall.
Entering City College's final regular-season game last fall against Poly, Banks, who is headed for Penn State, had helped the Knights to a 29-0 record and two Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference titles. Included in the streak were a couple of season-ending victories over Poly at Memorial Stadium.
But when the annual City-Poly game was moved to Morgan State in its 105th season, the Knights' winning ways came to an end, 21-20.
"I do see this game as sort of a homecoming, and I'm very excited about being back at Memorial Stadium and playing in front of my home crowd for the last time," said Banks, an All-Metro pick last fall.
"It's a chance to display my talent to the home crowd before I take it on the road. They're the ones who watched me get to where I am, and it's a great way to go out."
Banks used his 4.4-second 40-yard -- speed to rack up 1,942 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns in three years, including a career-high 13 touchdowns on 902 receiving yards last fall.
He, in particular, should benefit from playing under the new twist to this year's classic.
Memorial Stadium is home to Baltimore's Canadian Football League team and a larger field: It is 30 yards longer (including an extra 10 yards in each end zone) and 11 1/2 yards wider than the ones used in the United States.
"The larger field will create a more exciting and high scoring game," said game director Jerry Franks. "I think it's going to be unbelievable for the spectators -- an offensive showcase."
Northern Virginia won last year's event, 18-16, at the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium before 8,193.
But this year's Maryland squad hopes to get the jump on the visitors.
"I think it's going to come down to who flinches first," said North County graduate Troy Fowlkes, a linebacker. "We've got to come out and dictate the momentum."
Pursuit will be a key defensively for Maryland, beginning with Fowlkes, The Baltimore Sun's 1993 Defensive Player of the Year.
"We've been practicing on a field that's five yards longer, anyway, which gives us experience with the increased room to run," said the Maryland-bound Fowlkes, who had 196 tackles (80 solo) last season. "We've got to apply the pressure early, because with one pass, the game can be over."
Virginia has the ability to strike quickly, with quarterback Matt Shannon (West Springfield), the Offensive Player of the Year in Virginia's Northern Region.
Shannon, who is headed for the University of Richmond, is a threat in the air or on the ground, having passed for 1,160 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for 615 yards and eight touchdowns last fall.
"We think we can handle it. We have some pretty good defensive players," Fowlkes said. "We've got some very fast defensive backs, and some linemen, like Ron Green of Severna Park, who run the 40 in 4.7 or 4.8."
Banks, Fowlkes and Green are three of the six Baltimore Sun All-Metro selections playing for Maryland. The others are running back Guy Smith (Howard) and linemen Mike Knoedler (Overlea) and Jaryn Avery (North County).
Maryland also has five of the Washington Post's All-Metro players, beginning with defensive lineman Erick Bickle of two-time 2A state champ Damascus and lineman Sean Ladd of 4A state runner-up Churchill.
The others are defensive backs Paul Jackson (McNamara) and Paul Rivers (Oxon Hill) and lineman Chad Przysucha (Watkins Mill).
"In a way, I feel I have an advantage having played at Memorial Stadium before," Banks said. "But we have some terrific athletes on the team, so everyone's on the same level. We all have one goal in mind: to go out and beat Virginia."
Chuck Markiewicz is Maryland's offensive coordinator.
Having mastered the run-and-shoot as coach at North County, he'll try to get inside the heads of opposing defenders as he targets Virginia's secondary.
"If I'm a defensive back, I'm thinking 'I don't care how wide the field is, I'm not letting anything get by me,' " Markiewicz said. "We're going to have to utilize all the extra field."
Shannon is one of six Virginia players who earned All-Metro honors in the Washington Post.
The others are fullback/defensive end Kalombo Kalombo and defensive back Danny Leach (both of Herndon), lineman Yong Kim (Marshall), wide receiver/defensive back Winston October (Gar-Field) and running back/defensive back Byron Stevenson (Hylton).
"There's no doubt that with the athletes and the coaches involved, it's going to be a very exciting game," said Fort Hill's Mike Calhoun, head coach of Maryland's six-member staff. "It's something that myself and the kids can remember for the rest of our lives."
FACTS AND FIGURES
What: Second Chesapeake Football Classic
Who: Maryland All-Stars vs. Northern Virginia All-Stars (1993-94 high school seniors)
When: Today, 4 p.m.
Where: Memorial Stadium
Radio: WCBM (680 AM), WYRE (810 AM), WDCT (1310 AM)
Tickets: $5 general admission and $8 reserved (available at Memorial Stadium, Maryland football office, Stadium Store in Wheaton, Redskins Store in Fairfax, Va.)