Last season the AFRO overheard Dunbar Poets’ football coach Lawrence Smith tell his players during a post-game pep talk that they’re sending a message with every game that Dunbar “still rules Baltimore City.”

That regal attitude and mentality to prove themselves as the very best is perhaps the reason Dunbar has won more Baltimore City titles than any other school in recent years.

But the top-ranked Poets (5-1 overall, 4-1 Baltimore City Division I) isn’t the only team in the city that has adopted a winner’s attitude. Dunbar realized that when they lost their only game this year to the Patterson Clippers in week two of the season.

Patterson (5-1 overall, 3-1 BC Division I) not only took out Dunbar but also beat other top contenders with wins against City College (4-2 overall) and Edmondson Westside (4-2 overall).

“Those teams (Dunbar, City College and Edmondson Westside) don’t lose very often so it’s huge for your confidence when you can get a win over them,” said Patterson assistant coach Ron Friesian, who also explained how a huge win early in the season could still help them later in the year. “Anytime you beat them, and they win again, we get points. So it’s big for us for that very reason.”

The Clippers believe those wins also prove they’ve earned the right to be considered among the elite teams of the city. Not only did Patterson beat both Dunbar and City College this season but also beat them both last season, a feat most other teams in Baltimore can’t claim.

“Beating those teams was big for us last season, but we expected to beat them this season,” Clippers senior quarterback Aaron Overton told the AFRO. “Our goal isn’t just to beat the best, but to be the best, and we believe we’re capable of doing that with the talent we have on our team.”

Overton is certainly one of the more talented quarterbacks in the city. At 5-foot-10, 225 pounds, Overton has the physical toughness to run the ball effectively and the big arm to make big passes down field to junior star receiver Pete Carter. Overton said his team runs the ball even better than they throw it, giving Patterson a well balanced attack that’s very hard to contain on game day.

“I love the balance,” Overton said. “We have so many talented players to lean on, especially on our offensive line and on defense, and that’s our motto: no individuals on our team. We pick each other up and play as one unit.”

Patterson played well as a unit last season, finishing with a 9-3 winning record and even advanced to the second round of the playoffs. But Clippers head coach Corey Johnson suggested this year’s team has something special about them that should bring them even closer to claiming a city title.

“Last year we were really talented, but this year’s group show more heart,” Coach Johnson told the AFRO. “There are a ton of fighters on this team and that gives us an edge in tough ball games.”

 

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor