One final goal-line stand

Football: Annapolis senior Demario Harris wants to close out his career with his first state football title.


October 03, 2002|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Demario Harris, one of Anne Arundel County's most talented athletes, has one big goal left. That is to win a state football championship in this his senior year at Annapolis High School.

Harris, a hard-hitting 5-foot-8 and 165-pound defensive back/ running back, is a two-time All-County defensive back and last year as a junior was named first-team All-Metro.

"Going to the states in my sophomore year and winning the states in track last year have been the highlights of my high school career," said Harris, who is also a key sprinter/jumper on the Panthers indoor and outdoor track teams.

"But I want to go out with a state championship in football and this team is really together."

Harris is one of 21 close-knit seniors, including fellow running back/defensive backs Davon Watkins and Demario Green, and junior running back/ linebacker Darius Johnson. The group has been through a lot together over the past two football seasons.

In their sophomore year, the Panthers lost to Calvert High, 34-22, in the Class 3A state final at the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium.

Last fall, the Panthers traveled to Lusby in Calvert County and suffered a hard-fought, 27-19 loss to Patuxent in the 3A quarterfinals. Patuxent went on to lose, 7-6, to Frederick's Urbana in the state final.

"That should have been us in the final, and who knows, but one person beat us, " said Harris of Patuxent running back Terry Caulley, who scored all their touchdowns.

"We have really good senior leadership on a team that really likes each other."

The No. 5 Panthers are off to a 4-0 start and gaining more confidence each week, not to mention being looser.

"We have a whole bunch of characters and actors on this team who like to play jokes on each other, crack on each other, " said Harris.

"We go home on our computers and make up raps about each other and let the whole team listen to it. We hang out together. Everybody gets along."

When he's not hanging out with his teammates and friends, Harris loves fishing by himself. His former fishing partner, his grandfather Harrison Little, died a couple years ago.

"I go fishing by myself, but I miss my grandfather," said Harris. "I learned a lot from him and my dad about life and all."

Harris' dad, Gregory Harris, is a veteran Annapolis policeman. His son may follow in his footsteps. Demario wants to pursue criminal justice in college and possibly play football.

"I hope to get the opportunity to play in college, " said Harris, who credits his mom, Edwana Harris, for his athletic prowess. She was a junior guard on the 1982 Annapolis girls basketball state finalist team.

Annapolis coach Roy Brown, who is two wins from becoming Anne Arundel's seventh football coach to win 100 games, considers Harris to be the Panthers' best one-on-one tackler and cover man.

Harris had three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown, and two fumble recoveries in his All-Metro season last fall.

Running the ball, Harris gained 478 yards and scored seven touchdowns, numbers he could double this season as he has more responsibilities on the offensive side.

"Demario is special, one of those kids who makes it easy to coach," said Brown.

"He has a lot of self-pride, pushes himself, responds to criticism and has that inner drive that successful athletes have. He doesn't have to be told things twice."

It's because of those attributes that Harris is a natural leader, and he takes those qualities to the track, where he has also been a two-time All-County performer.

Harris was a major contributor as a long and triple jumper, and sprinter on last winter's first state indoor track champion at Annapolis.

Outdoors in the spring, Harris earned The Sun's County Boys Performer of the Year honors. He won the county championships in the long and triple jumps to lead a short-handed team to a third-place finish.

The county meet was postponed and run the next day, which was Annapolis' graduation day. The team was short 18 athletes, but Harris' gold medals enabled the Panthers to take third place and finish just four points out of first.

Harris then led the Panthers to their first outdoors region title, the 3A East, and a state runner-up finish.

As good as he is in track, though, football is his passion. It's a sport he started playing at age five in the Peninsula Athletic League (PAL) youth program.

He began his high school career as a freshman running back/safety on the Annapolis JV team.

"I got called up for the playoffs my freshman year," said Harris, who has been in the postseason every year since.

Four years later, Demario Harris and his teammates are focused on taking it all the way.

"It's what we want, " said Harris.

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