Sophomore sizzle

Edmondson and City have advanced to region finals, thanks in part to their young quarterbacks, Carroll Washington and Ellis Foster


November 22, 2006|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun reporter

Edmondson's Carroll Washington watched from the sideline as City quarterback Ellis Foster, a fellow sophomore, went to work against his Red Storm's defense.

After finishing off a 13-play, 72-yard drive with his 18-yard scoring pass to Nathan Ayers, Foster ran a bootleg for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 lead. Foster had sustained the drive by rushing for two first downs and completing a 23-yard pass to Sheldon Waller, but was replaced by senior Kendall Blackston after suffering a sprained ankle during his conversion run.

"I thought he did a good job," said Washington, whose team lost that Baltimore City Division I game, 16-6, on Sept. 23.

Not long after Foster left, it was Washington's turn to go to work. After replacing senior starter James Thorne, Washington completed a fourth-quarter, 9-yard scoring pass to Darrin Johnson.

"I never saw the play," said Foster, 16, who still was being attended to by trainers. "But I hear he's a great player."

This weekend, the mutual admirers will lead their teams into the regional championships. Foster will be in his fourth straight game since returning from injury for No. 2 City (11-0), which meets Franklin (9-2) in the Class 3A North region title game. Washington will make his eighth straight start for No. 5 Edmondson (10-1), which takes on No. 9 Hereford, a 28-0 winner over Eastern Tech, in the Class 2A North final.

Like Washington, Foster, whose full name is Ellis Abram Foster, has a name that honors grandparents he never met. Washington's grandfather, Carroll Sr., and Foster's grandparents, Ella Mae Bevans and Abraham Foster, died before their grandsons had a chance to meet them.

On the field, however, they make their families proud.

After last weekend's regional semifinals, in which City routed Mervo, 34-0, and Edmondson routed Overlea, 35-7, each player has passed and rushed for a combined 13 touchdowns. In Friday night's rout of Overlea, Washington scored his fifth rushing touchdown. The Red Storm quarterback has passed for eight scores and more than 1,000 yards. Foster has thrown for far fewer yards (538), but tossed his 10th touchdown pass against Mervo. He has three rushing scores.

Although each is a threat to run or pass, Washington is more of a freelancer; Foster is a controller.

Washington is more likely to scramble, roll or sprint out or be called upon to run a naked bootleg. Foster is less likely to improvise, often controlling the tempo from the pocket and staying within the general game plan.

"Carroll's potential is unlimited," said Red Storm coach Dante Jones, calling his West Coast scheme a "run-first" offense "with a strong pass option."

Foster "runs our offense with ease," said City coach George Petrides, whose Knights use the wing-T and pro-I formations.

The quarterbacks had what each considers to be one of his best games against the same team over successive weekends: The Red Storm routed Poly, 44-20, on Nov. 3, as did the Knights, 44-8, on Nov. 11.

Although his Knights dominated the Engineers from the outset, it was Foster who set the tone.

"Smooth ball handling is extremely important in our offenses, especially in the wing T," Petrides said. "Although he's only a sophomore, he's very confident as quarterback and our players have confidence in him."

Against Poly, Foster threw for 106 yards, including a 20-yard scoring pass to Waller for a 14-0 lead. Foster also rushed for a score and completed a pair of two-point conversion passes to Waller and one to Dominick Roseborough as City built leads of 22-0 in the first quarter and 36-0 at halftime.

"I'm always learning something about reading defenses and generally being a leader at the position," said Foster, referring to City's 118th meeting with Poly. "That was my most rewarding game because of its history."

A week earlier, Poly found Carroll to be virtually unstoppable. "I felt comfortable, relaxed," Washington said of the win. "I used my legs and my arm equally."

Against Poly, Washington threw for 131 yards and scores of 7, 21 and 46 yards, respectively, to Kyle Jackson, Kareem Damon and Johnson. Washington also rushed for a touchdown as the Red Storm built a 38-6 lead early in the third quarter.

"Carroll's athletic ability is unreal," Jones said. "But we need him to be more poised as a quarterback, and we believe that's coming along. If he calms down, he can be one of the best ever to come out of Baltimore City."

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