Planes fly into BWI Airport near North County High in Ferndale, and last night the 5-year-old school touched down with its first 4A state football championship, 23-6, over Largo of Prince George's County before nearly 4,000 fans.
The game was at Al Laramore Field at Annapolis High. Annapolis, coached by Laramore, was the last Anne Arundel County team to win a state title, in 1978.
Arundel, in 1975, was the only other Anne Arundel County team to win a state title.
The No. 2 Knights (11-2) got a super night from ace back Topper Ellis and their defense, led by down lineman John Williams, who was in on 12 tackles and had a fumble recovery.
Ellis ran for 127 yards (78 in the second half) and three touchdowns (23 for the season) on 24 attempts, with his last two touchdowns coming in the final period.
North County had a 9-0 lead at the half, but Largo (10-3) closed the gap to 9-6 near the end of the third period on a 13-yard run by Jason Shupe.
After a short punt by Largo's Kurt Faison, Ellis went 5 yards and then 32 yards to a touchdown in two plays. V.J. Impallaria's extra point with 3:55 left made it 16-6.
Mike Smith then sacked Faison for a 14-yard loss, and Faison fumbled with Williams recovering at the 13.
Ellis, who closed the season with nearly 2,500 all-purpose yards for a county record, carried four straight times, with an unsportsmanlike penalty on Largo thrown in to put the Knights on the 1.
Ellis then plunged in, and the celebrating began for the Knights and coach Chuck Markiewicz, who brought the run-and-shoot to the county and built a state title winner.
Markiewicz credited his coaching staff, particularly defensive coordinator Brad Wilson.
"This team had no fear," said Markiewicz, whose team was 3-2 at midseason and faced elimination from playoff contention but won its last eight games.
"They never had any fear because of their tough schedule."
Williams said, "We had tough defense all year [a county-low 123 points allowed] and stuck together. This was definitely our best defensive game."
Linebackers Steve Tomshack was in on nine tackles and Marvin Mobley had seven. Split end Lou Brown caught five passes for 79 yards to finish the season with 74 receptions for 1,120 yards. He fell one catch short of the state and county record (75) by Broadneck's Jason Smith in 1993.
It was North County's fourth consecutive playoff appearance, but its first in the final.
Largo was making its third playoff appearance in four years. It last won a state title in 1976 as a Class A team, which is equivalent to a 3A team today. Romeo coached the '76 team as well.
Defense ruled in the first half for both teams with the Lions getting 123 total yards (119 rushing and only four passing) while North County had 105 yards (43 running and 62 passing).
The Knights, however, made the most of their opportunities, scoring on a 30-yard field goal by V.J. Impallaria with 7:39 left in the half and a 6-yard touchdown run by Ellis (13-for-49 first half).
Impallaria had missed a 43-yard attempt late in the first period, with the ball just short and to the right.
He would make his next attempt after the Knights drove from their 23 to the Lions' 13, with Ellis carrying all but one play, including a 13-yarder and two 12-yarders.
An Earl Sewell pass to Chris Mangum for a 4-yard gain set up Impallaria's 30-yard field goal.
On its subsequent possession, Largo attempted to punt from its 27, but a bad snap to Faison resulted in his going down at the 6.
Ellis took it in from there on the first play, and the Knights faked the extra point, with holder Ryan Ross stopped short of the goal line.