'This is the big game'

Q&a Ellis Foster, City, Football

November 06, 2008|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

Ellis Foster has been City's starting quarterback since his freshman year, and Saturday he will lead the Knights into the 120th City-Poly game at M&T Bank Stadium. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior is looking for his fourth straight win in the rivalry that is the second-oldest continuous public high school rivalry in the nation.Foster, 17, who started with the Pop Warner Northeast Chargers, has gained 1,772 total yards and scored 18 touchdowns this season for the Knights. He wants to play football in college and is getting a look from Rutgers. He has a 2.7 grade-point average and plans to major in engineering or graphic design. He is interested in becoming a sports videographer.

Did your dad play football?

My father played for Dunbar. Football is pretty much in the family, sports in general.

Have you always been a quarterback?

No. My first time playing quarterback was in the ninth grade. I played lineman.

Do you like playing quarterback?

Quarterback's pretty fun. I get to touch the ball a lot, and I can be involved in the game a lot. I don't like to sit and watch; I like to be in the game.

Are you a vocal guy in the huddle?

Being a quarterback, you have to be vocal in the huddle because you have other big guys who want to talk about the previous play. You have to be like the commander in the huddle, make sure everyone's levelheaded and focused on the next drive. Move on.

What is it about you that makes you suited to the position?

Arm strength. Just knowledge of the game. And it's not just me, it's the people around me. We have a lot of good people, like we have wide receivers Adrian Coxson and Phillip Foster - that's my brother - and running backs Ricky Rodwell and Deandre Harris. They're good players who make me look good. They help me out a lot.

Why do you look forward to playing Poly?

Because they're our rival and just the surroundings of the game make everyone want to play good, and I like the high competition level. This is the big game. At Ravens stadium, it's like wow. It's overwhelming, like NFL. It's so big. A lot of players are there, a lot of coaches, alumni, fans.

Does it ever matter who's favored to win the game?

The City-Poly game could go either way. It's not all about records. It's about the players who come to play, who wants it more.

How do you prepare for that game?

Most of the time we have pep rallies, but the coaches try not to make it a big deal because you might get caught up in all the excitement and lose track of the game. So [head coach George Petrides] tries to get us away from that, but it's fun to have pep rallies for the school.

How do you keep on an even keel when you're playing a game like that?

You just have to look at each game as a regular game. We won't do anything different than we've been doing all season - watch film, a lot of practice, just regular things to make it all normal.

Do you get butterflies when you're out there on the M&T Bank Stadium field?

[Laughs] If you don't get butterflies, you're not playing the right game. Yeah, I get butterflies.

Does the history of the rivalry come through for you guys when you're playing?

The City-Poly game is the oldest rivalry in the state. Everybody doesn't have an opportunity to play on an NFL field or they don't have the opportunity to play in the second-longest-running rivalry in the nation. A lot of people have gone through that game, and some have gone on to be governors and mayors and other politicians. There's so much history in it.

Are you disappointed that you can't play on Thanksgiving Day as they used to?

Not really. I know my coach, Coach Petrides, would say something different, like, "Yeah, it'd be better to be the end of the season and for it to be on Thanksgiving," but at Thanksgiving, I'd rather be playing for the playoffs. I'd rather be in the playoffs.

Your dad played football and your brother plays on the team with you. How does football fit into the father-sons relationship?

My father, he really motivates me. He makes sure we're always doing the right thing, keeping us out of harm's way. If we wouldn't have football, I don't know what we'd be doing right now. It keeps us out of trouble, because we weren't brought up in a good neighborhood, so he tried to keep us busy playing football, which we've grown to love. He comes to see every game. My brother played JV last year, and he went to all of their games, too.

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