1996 All-Baltimore City/County football teams

November 22, 1996|By Lem Satterfield

Player of the Year

Robert Gross, Lake Clifton, senior, NG: At 5-foot-9, 190 pounds, Gross is the centerpiece of one of the area's best defenses, helping the Lakers to their first Class 4A state playoff and a 58-30 victory over Anne Arundel County power North County, the 1994 state champ. As the Lakers enter tomorrow's semifinal game at Roosevelt-PG, the four-year starter has 15 sacks and 101 tackles (47 solo) in anchoring a defense that allowed 4.9 points during the regular-season, with four shutouts (7.1 points over 11 games). "He's tough as nails," said defensive coordinator Martin Church. "He's aggressive and hard to keep out of the backfield because of his excellent technique, particularly his swim move." In perhaps the Lakers' biggest regular-season game of the season -- a 14-0 shutout of then-No. 1 Dunbar -- Gross was critical in stopping Poet runs up the middle. Dunbar failed to convert on seven chances inside Lake Clifton's 20 (four of which were inside the 13).

First team -- defense

Harry Blackwell, Lake Clifton, senior, L: Big (6-3, 330) and surprisingly agile, Blackwell is called "a boulder in the middle" by coach Martin Church. Blackwell has 75 tackles (27 solos) and eight sacks defensively and blocks well offensively. "When he's focused, he can be a human demolition machine," Church said.

Jason Boyce, Dunbar, senior, LB: Boyce (5-8, 190), a second-team All-City/County pick last year, has quietly solidified the Poets' defense, with 95 tackles (39 solos), 18 sacks, six fumble recoveries and four interceptions. He also has rushed for 554 yards and three touchdowns as a running back.

Karim Cross, City, senior, LB: Potomac coach Eric Knight, whose team lost, 26-22, to the Knights in last weekend's first-round Class 2A playoff, called Cross "a tough player." Cross (5-10, 200), a third-year starter, led the Knights with nine sacks and two interceptions, one of which led to the game-winning touchdown against Mount St. Joseph. With a team-high 92 tackles (35 solo), Cross was a big reason why City allowed just 14 points in its first five games (three shutouts) and yielded 9.5 points a game.

James Gee, City, junior, DB: Gee (6-0, 170) always managed to be in the right place for interceptions. He had a team-high nine for the season, four of which came in a 34-0 rout of Forest Park -- one for a touchdown -- with two others in a come-from-behind victory over Poly.

Carl Hebron, City, senior, L: Despite being a two-way player and rarely coming off the field, Hebron (6-2, 290) was the Knights' second-leading tackler among linemen with 33. The three-year starter also was the Knights' center.

Devin Jones, Patterson, senior, DB: The 5-8, 155 pounder made the Clippers go on both sides of the ball. He had 34 tackles, 12 batted passes, six interceptions and two fumble recoveries. His best game, defensively, came in limiting Lake Clifton's Terril Lowery to two receptions for 11 yards. As a quarterback, he rushed for 701 yards and nine touchdowns, pass for 675 yards and four more scores. He also returned one punt and one kickoff for touchdowns.

Tim Nicholas, Loyola, senior, DB: The 6-0, 175-pound Nicholas (93 tackles, 56 solos) had a nose for the ball. In a victory over St. Mary's, Nicholas had a sack, two interceptions -- one of which led to a touchdown -- and caused a fumble that led to another score. Against Poly, he caused a fumble that led to a 7-0 lead in a 26-0 win. His team led Gilman, 8-7, when his interceptions set up a touchdown in an eventual 22-7 victory. Nicholas (three interceptions) caused seven fumbles this season, recovered one, and rushed for 300 yards and three touchdowns.

Carlrome Randle, Dunbar, senior, DB: At 5-7, 145, Randle's size is deceiving. A sometime linebacker, he had 88 tackles (51 solo) with 15 sacks, four interceptions and returned two fumbles for touchdowns. He also rushed for 854 yards and six touchdowns.

Jason Shupert, Hereford, junior, L: Shupert (6-1, 245) is a run-stopper with 42 tackles and four sacks. He was at his best in last week's first-round Class 1A playoff victory over Perryville, during which the Bulls survived two first-quarter goal-line stands. He also was a big reason Catonsville's Ryan Davis went scoreless a week after scoring six touchdowns.

Antar Sims-El, Dunbar, senior, L: The Poets' only returning lineman, Sims-El (5-10, 230) was a leader by example both offensively and defensively with 92 tackles (50 solos), 13 sacks and four fumble recoveries. He had deceptive speed, and his low center of gravity helped him in blocking larger defensemen.

Derry Williams, Dunbar, senior, DB: A critical leader, the stocky Williams (5-8, 160), a returning All-Metro player, has an area-leading 12 interceptions (22 in two seasons), returning one for a touchdown. Williams (97 tackles, 66 solos) recovered six fumbles, returning one for a touchdown, and was in on nine sacks. He also rushed for 310 yards and five touchdowns.

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