Coach of the Year
Ken Hovet, Oakland Mills: Failure to win a state football championship has haunted former Scorpions players like Hovet and most of his assistant coaches. So has a propensity to take a back seat to Wilde Lake as Howard County's No. 1 program. With its state Class 1A title this season, Oakland Mills enters the off-season with bragging rights. Hovet, in his sixth season, has a 46-19 career record and has grown into his job well. He has a knack for knowing what's important and what's not, and for motivating his players to maximum performances in crucial situations. The Scorpions won all six of their games decided by a touchdown or less, including a 15-12 win over Forestville in the 1A state title game. Trailing 12-0 with 11: 58 to play, the Scorpions scored 15 points in the next 4: 35 to win. For most teams, the loss of an offensive threat like Vinnie Rubbo (Scorpions' all-time leading rusher) to injuries would have proved critical. Instead, Hovet expanded the role of Joey Ellis and gave a chance to young running back J. T. Rembert -- brought up from JV for the Scorps' last four games. Both came through. Hovet benefited from a strong senior nucleus of superior all-around athletes, and from an unexpected passing attack featuring quarterback T. J. Welsh and receiver Tom Browne. Welsh rebounded from a shoulder dislocation in a quarterfinal win to pass the Scorps to the title, and Browne, in his second season of high school football, had nearly 1,000 receiving yards and nine TDs after only two receptions for one TD last year. Hovet allowed the Scorpions to be an emotional team, but they were disciplined enough to have a turnover ratio of 39-14. He and his staff also developed a 4-4 defensive system that limited eight 1,000-yard rushers to an average of 60 yards per game.
Player of the Year
Ray Jones, Eastern Tech, senior, running back: This 6-foot-3, 225-pounder finished the year with 2,201 yards and 30 TDs (2,996, 42 TDs in two seasons) in leading the second-ranked Mavericks (12-1) to their first 3A state title game -- an exciting 45-29 loss -- last weekend to a Friendly of Prince George's County team ranked No. 3 both in Maryland and in the Washington area. A preseason All-Mid-Atlantic pick by The National Recruiting Advisor, Jones' raw power -- he has bench-pressed 355 pounds -- impressed Maryland recruiters at a summer camp, along with his 4.7-second 40-yard dash. Jones, who also had 14 sacks as a linebacker, amassed 544 yards and four touchdowns in three playoff games, including 198 yards and two scores against Friendly. "That kid No. 20 [Jones] is outstanding," said Friendly coach George Earley, whose team allowed more points by the Mavericks than by any opponent since Poly (40 points) in 1996. "He doesn't quit, his balance is excellent and he runs hard." Jones' other standout game was a 200-yard, four-TD effort in a win over league rival Milford Mill as Eastern Tech won its second straight Baltimore County crown and its first-ever 3A North Region crown. Jones' 156 points led the state after 10 regular-season games. Although he's orally committed to a full scholarship to the University of Buffalo, Jones, who scored 960 on his SAT and has a 3.4 grade-point average, also has been recruited by Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia Military Institute, Virginia Tech and Connecticut. Jones arrived at Eastern Tech as a 13-year-old, 180-pound freshman who had never played organized football or lifted weights prior to high school.
First team at a glance
Nick Alevrogiannis, St. Paul's, senior, lineman: Alevrogiannis (6-5, was the main reason St. Paul's generated over 2,500 rushing yards and 1,000 yards passing. Defensively, Alevrogiannis was unblockable unless double- or triple-teamed. He had 62 tackles, five sacks and an interception. A B-student, Alevrogiannis has drawn interest from Maryland, Richmond, Marshall, Temple, Virginia Tech and Syracuse among others.
Chris Barnes, Dunbar, senior, wide receiver: Committed to a full scholarship to Boston College, Barnes caught 32 passes for 448 yards and seven TDs and has 24 career TDs and over 2,500 yards. A 3.3 student and two-time second-team All-Metro pick, Barnes (6-0, 195) turned down a scholarship offer from Georgia Tech and also considered Virginia Tech and Maryland. Barnes recovered a fumble for one TD, returned a punt for another and had six sacks as a defensive end. Barnes was the first freshman to start at Poly, playing there two years under Augie Waible, then transferring to Dunbar.