Dunbar's Lawrence Smith, left, and Calvert Hall's…
No. 2 Calvert Hall (1-0) vs. No. 5 Dunbar (0-0)
When: Friday night, 7:45
Where: Johnny Unitas Stadium, Towson University
Coaches: Donald Davis, Calvert Hall; Lawrence Smith, Dunbar
Last meeting: Dunbar won, 24-8, Sept. 30, 1995
KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH
Calvert Hall: DB-WR Delando Johnson, Sr.; OL-DL J.P. McManus, Sr.; WR Kyle Levere, Sr.; RB Garrett Keene, Sr.; LB Garrett Epple, Sr.; DB Kennedy Frazier, Sr.; RB-DB Stephen Kelly, Sr.; QB Colar Kuhns, Jr.
Dunbar: DL-TE Marvin Gross Jr., Sr.; DL-OL Malik Jones, Sr.; OL Nicholas Bonaparte, Sr.; OL-DL Dariz Hill, Sr.; QB William Crest, Jr.; RB-DB Paki Brown, Sr.; RB-LB Jaquan Holt, Sr.; RB-LB Coleman Blackston, Jr.
KEYS TO VICTORY
The marquee game of the third annual I-95 Kickoff Classic features a rare matchup of one of the area's top Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference teams, Calvert Hall, with one of the area's top public school teams, Dunbar.
"It's just one of those games everybody wants to see," Davis said, "and you play the game everybody wants to see. Everybody in Baltimore wants to see Calvert Hall vs. Dunbar. The coaches are excited about the opportunity and a lot of our kids know each other."
The Cardinals opened their season with a 54-7 win over Maryland Christian while Dunbar, the two-time defending Class 1A state champion, opens its season tonight on the first play date for public school teams.
Offensively, both teams have good running backs, but the Poets likely have the edge at quarterback with Crest, who started as a sophomore and has been drawing Division I offers. The Poets also have more experience on their offensive line with Jones, Bonaparte and Hill.
The Cardinals have a new quarterback in Kuhns, who played on the junior varsity squad last season. Kuhns completed six of 11 passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns against Maryland Christian, but Dunbar's line will offer a tougher challenge. With a young quarterback, the Calvert Hall line will be key and it returns five players with experience.
Defensively, the Cardinals are rebuilding behind Johnson, Epple and Cole Atkinson, but the Poets also have new faces at linebacker and defensive back.
Davis, who said his team has to win the special teams battle, is wary of Dunbar's big-play potential, especially their return game.
"They're extremely athletic and they're a high-energy team," Davis said of Dunbar. "If you're going to play them, you better be able to match their energy and their kids have an extraordinary confidence. They've been behind in two state championship games and come back and won. That's a tough thing to deal with when a group has extraordinary confidence."
The Poets, however, must take care of the ball and cut down on the penalty yardage, both of which have plagued them in recent years. If they turn the ball over, the Cardinals will be making the big plays.
"We cannot turn the ball over," Smith said. "We have to sustain drives. If we turn the ball over, it could get ugly fast."
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
No. 8 Catonsville at Boys' Latin, Friday, 4
No. 7 Old Mill at Broadneck, Friday night, 6:30
No. 1 Gilman at Good Counsel, Friday night, 7