Schmoke and Dutton in a story of 10 City yards

November 11, 2006|By GREGORY KANE

It took me a few weeks, but I finally got to the bottom of the uniquely Baltimore story involving Kurt Schmoke, Kenny Dutton and 10 yards.

You might have heard of this Schmoke guy. He's now the dean of Howard University School of Law, a job in which he seems much happier than the one he held for 12 years as mayor of Baltimore. Before becoming mayor, Schmoke was the city state's attorney.

But in 1965, he was a 15-year-old quarterback when the football season at his alma mater, City College, began in September. Dutton was the fullback for that 1965 City squad, which ended up ranked eighth in the country by the National Sports News Service, according to The Greenbag, the 1966 City College yearbook.

Shortly after 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, Schmoke faked the ball to Dutton - one in a series of fakes that had the television announcer saying, "[Schmoke] had me fooled again."

Actually, two players were fooling the sportscasters. One was Schmoke; the other was Dutton. Dutton carried out his part in the fakes. He made his blocks. He intercepted two passes playing defensive back and, according to The Greenbag, was named the game's outstanding player.

And, according to local lore, he never touched the ball while on offense.

Dutton needed just 10 yards to break the Maryland Scholastic Association rushing record. And during that last game of the season against Poly, which City won, 52-6, Schmoke never handed the ball off to Dutton. At least that's how the story goes.

My first stop in getting to the bottom of this tale was the Applebee's restaurant near Reisterstown Road Plaza the night of the Ravens-Broncos game. The occasion was a reunion, of sorts, for members of that 1965 City football team. Norman "Oogie" Watkins, who played safety and cornerback on the squad, called as many people as he had numbers for and invited them all to come watch the game and reminisce about their days at City.

Watkins discounted the story about Dutton never getting the ball.

"Kenny got the ball," he said.

I talked to Schmoke two days ago. He remembers it differently.

"It's one of those things from my high school career that I think about to this day," Schmoke said. "Every year at the time the City-Poly game is played. Kenny was a team player. A selfless player."

The City squad scored early and often in their rout of a Poly team that the Black Knights were favored to beat by only a few points. One thing Dutton, Schmoke and Watkins do agree on is this: The game was over in the first quarter.

"We were caught up in the game," Schmoke said. "We happened to run up a big score." So big that City coach George Young went to his bench early. Dutton watched while Lou Wilson, his backup at fullback, rushed for touchdowns of 22 and 59 yards.

"Every time I went into the line, they were keying on me," Dutton said at Applebee's. After City had a comfortable lead, both Schmoke and Dutton were standing on the sideline.

"It looks like we're not going to get back in," Schmoke recalled Dutton telling him. "It looks like I'm not going to get the 10 yards I needed for the record."

Schmoke said that's when he realized he had never given the ball to Dutton. "It didn't dawn on me until Kenny mentioned it," Schmoke said.

OK, so we clearly have two different accounts here. According to news reports, Watkins is the one who's technically correct: Dutton did get the ball. He ran it in for a two-point conversion after a touchdown. Such runs, unfortunately, don't count toward rushing records.

Schmoke said he thought about trying to get Young to put Dutton back in so he could get the 10 yards, but realized that his coach wasn't one to show up another team just to get a record. Besides, Young realized that in the City-Poly games, it's about beating Poly, not about individual records.

Poly coaches and players probably felt the same way. In a rivalry like City-Poly, there is really only one football game in the season. All those other games are just exhibitions. Tuneups.

The 1965 City football team's tuneups included a 50-12 shellacking of Calvert Hall and a 46-0 bludgeoning of Douglass, teams that were expected to challenge the Black Knights and Poly for the MSA A-conference championship. City also beat DeMatha 27-12 and St. John's of Washington, 32-7. Then there was that tattooing of a Poly squad that was undefeated before it ran into the City juggernaut.

Young once said Dutton was the best player on that team. Schmoke called Dutton "one of the greatest human beings I've ever met."

A great human being, and one who still milks the humor out of his missing 10 yards from 41 years ago.

"I was hoping Kurt would show up tonight," Dutton said at Applebee's, "to give me my 10 yards."

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