The Dunbar Poets have one goal in mind: win every game possible in their quest for a state championship. The team got one step closer to achieving that goal as they shut out top Baltimore City contender Edmondson Westside, 16-0, on Oct. 23 at Lumsden-Scott Stadium in Baltimore.

It was business as usual for Dunbar, who stuck to their bread and butter running game throughout most of the game. Dunbar moved the ball downfield with running backs Paki Brown and JaQuan Holt, punching in the game’s first points with about three minutes left in the first quarter. Dunbar quarterback Kevin Estep then found star receiver Deonta McManus on a two-point conversion to give Dunbar a 8-0 lead.

Dunbar wouldn’t score again until Holt ran in a short touchdown to make it 16-0 at the start of the fourth quarter. But they didn’t need another score to win thanks to the defensive unit, which forced several turnovers while holding Edmondson Westside scoreless.

Dunbar forced three fumbles, recovering two of them. McManus, who also plays deep safety, helped lead Dunbar with multiple tackles, while teammate Aaron Haynes recorded the game’s only interception, which ended Edmondson’s best drive early in the fourth quarter.

“Our defense has been incredible,” Dunbar head coach Lawrence Smith said. “What most folks don’t know is we have a new defensive coordinator. We had the same D-coordinator since the 1990s, but brought in someone new this season.”

“It took a while for the new scheme to set in, but it’s really starting to get together and you can tell by the play on the field,” he added.

Dunbar earned the Ben Eaton Memorial Trophy with the win over rival Edmondson Westside (5-3 overall, 4-2 Baltimore City Division I). The trophy is awarded each year to the winner of rivalry in honor of Eaton, the legendary Dunbar coach who led the team to multiple state championships before his death in 2007.

“Both teams always come in to this game hyped up and ready to play an emotional, hard-hitting football game,” Smith said. “We always say it doesn’t matter what record you have coming into this game because it’s always going to be a very tough battle.”

Dunbar (7-1 overall, 5-1 Baltimore City Division I) will celebrate the win, but it will be back to business as they take on another top contender in Poly (7-1 overall) on Oct 30.

“We just want to keep winning,” Smith said. “I told my players that this game was the start of our playoffs. It’s time to take control of our own destiny and do what we do best: win games.”

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor