It was the third straight year Baltimore’s Dunbar Poets had reached the Maryland State 1A Class high school football championship game, but for those watching, it looked just like every other game the Poets had played this season.
Dunbar routed Owings Mills, MD’s New Town Titans, 39-0, to claim their third consecutive state title and seventh in nine years. But the win also marked the 10th time this season that the Poets (13-1) shut out their opponent. Shutout victories have become the norm for the Poets this season, but no one expected them to record one in the championship game.
In their last two championship game appearances, Dunbar had to come from behind to win after slow starts. Poets quarterback Will Crest, who has now won three titles with Dunbar, told the AFRO that they wanted to make sure they didn’t have to do that this time around.
“We’ve had a habit of starting these title games slow and having to really play with a sense of urgency in the third and fourth quarter just to pull ourselves out of the holes we created,” Crest said. “So we focused on getting off to a hot start and once we did that, New Town just couldn’t keep up with us.”
Crest finished the game with two touchdown passes, but by the time he threw those touchdowns, Dunbar was well ahead. Poets running back Coleman Blackston scored Dunbar’s first 12 points as he ran for a 26-yard touchdown and a 2-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Blackston had 117 yards in the first half and finished with 128, as other reserve running backs like Paki Brown and JaQuan Holt took over the game. Behind an offensive line of Malik Jones, Dariz Hill, Nicholas Bonaparte, Teon Ransom and Brandon Giles, the Poets accumulated 230 yards rushing.
But more impressive was Dunbar’s defense, easily the stingiest group in Maryland high school football. Poets head coach Lawrence Smith told reporters after the game that he felt this year’s team had the best defense his staff has coached.
“It’s not one star player on our defense that you can single out, it’s a whole total team effort with them and it shows because they just completely dominate together,” Smith said. “I’m very proud of this team and now that they’re champions, they’ll be remembered as one of the best teams in Dunbar history.”