Offensive Player of the Year
Keith Williams, Glen Burnie: Fighting back tears after Williams' final game at Old Mill, Gophers coach Brad Wilson said his quarterback "was special" and that he "had never seen a quarterback do so much for a team as Keith did." A three-sport standout who has also been All-County in baseball and basketball, Williams (6 feet 2, 200 pounds) is only the second Gopher to be named Player of the Year since The Sun's award began in 1980; the first was Rodney Spencer (1983), the running back whose season record for touchdowns (17) was broken by Williams this season. Williams scored 23 touchdowns, 22 rushing (the other was a 95-yard kickoff return) in leading the 6-4 Gophers to their first winning season since 1994. In becoming only the second county quarterback to run for 1,000 yards and pass for 1,000, Williams eclipsed the record of 2,027 total yards by Arundel's Louis Carter, who did it in 1970. Williams ran for 1,292 yards and passed for 1,193. His rushing yards broke the county record of 1,282 by a quarterback set by Severn's Dennard Melton in 1992; his passing yards are the most by a Glen Burnie quarterback since Roger Simonds' 995 in 1987. It was in his sophomore All-County season as a wide receiver/defensive back that Williams first played quarterback. He took over full time last year, passing for 894 yards and running for 633. This season, his running and passing accounted for 202 of the team's 296 points. Williams finishes his career with 2,300 yards passing and 2,027 rushing for a school-record 4,327 combined yards.
Nick Bowen, Chesapeake: Bowen was a bright spot in a disappointing 4-6 season for the Cougars, who started 3-1. The speedy running back led the county in rushing with 1,482 yards (sixth in the metro area) despite missing nearly two games with an ankle injury in the third game. Bowen (5-11, 165) averaged 6.9 yards on 214 attempts and scored 16 touchdowns. He set school single-game records for rushing yards (289) and touchdowns (five) in the last game, a 35-30 win over Northeast. Bowen also tied Brandon Steinheim's season record for total points (110), set in 1992, with 17 total touchdowns plus eight conversion points.
Ron Darden, Glen Burnie: As big as most NFL linemen, the 6-4, 310-pound Darden had his way most of the time in clearing out areas for Keith Williams and other Gophers ball carriers or making tackles on the other side of the ball. The huge, two-way lineman has the nifty footwork of a lesser-sized player and was awesome pulling on traps and sweeps; he also has good lateral movement that helped him make pancake blocks. Defensively, Darden made 73 tackles. He has Division I scholarship offers from several schools, including Maryland and East Carolina.
Aaron Dixon-Proctor, Old Mill: A solid blocker and flawless snapper, Dixon- Proctor (6-0, 220) was the county's best center and a superb defensive end. Despite working with two different quarterbacks during the season, exchanges were never a problem. "Few kids play harder than Aaron," coach Mike Marcus said. At defensive end, Dixon-Proctor turned plays inside to the likes of lineman Kerry Blake and linebacker Keelyn Roberts, rarely letting opposing backs turn his corner without a fight.
Anthony Hawkins, Broadneck: Hawkins (6-2, 200) used athleticism, good hands and speed to lead the county with 44 receptions for 793 yards and 10 touchdowns. His yardage led the metro area, and his 44 catches were second. Hawkins, who has the ability to leap over defenders and make plays, was junior Fred Steinmark's favorite target, especially when a first down or touchdown was needed. An All-County defensive back as a junior, Hawkins started in the secondary again and had two interceptions and 40 tackles.
Rodney Jackson, Meade: Jackson lived up to coach Kenny Gray's calling him "Mr. Excitement." An instinctive player with first-step acceleration and the ability to cut sharply. Jackson (5-11, 170) scored 11 touchdowns, six on 23 pass receptions for 623 yards and five more on returns or reverses. Jackson amassed 1,130 all-purpose yards with five touchdowns of 80 or more yards, including a 90-yard punt return and a 103-yard dash with an interception. The interception return was 2 yards short of his county-record 105-yard sprint last year as a junior. Jackson was also a standout at defensive back again with five interceptions.
Jerome Jones, Meade: A three-year starter as a two-way tackle, Jones (6-2, 270) often wiped out two would-be tacklers at a time on running plays. As a pass blocker, he was a like a moving wall in front of scrambling quarterback Antwan Smith. Defensively, Jones clogged holes, smothered runners and was a relentless pass rusher.