Poets continue surge, beat archrival
Dunbar scores 1st 19 points, Darien runs for two TDs to retain Eaton Trophy
After Dunbar’s football team started the season 0-2, coach Lawrence Smith told his players it was playoff time from then on.
The Poets have been to the regional playoffs 14 straight times, but one more loss this fall might be enough to keep them out of the Class 2A North postseason. For a program that has won nine state titles and aims to win one every year, that would be tough to take.
So Friday, the Poets got off to a blistering start against archrival Edmondson, scoring the first 19 points to drive a 26-14 victory and retain the Ben Eaton Memorial Trophy.
Da’Shawn Darien ran for two touchdowns and Andre Brandon, who had two interceptions later in the game, ran for a third with five seconds left in the first quarter.
Even though the Poets celebrated winning their second straight Eaton Trophy — awarded each year to the winner of their East-West rivalry game and named after the late Dunbar coach who died before the start of the 2007 season — Smith reminded them they hadn’t won anything yet.
“We haven’t had a playoff game down here in a long time,” Smith said of the Poets’ William “Sugar” Cain Field in East Baltimore, “so we want to keep winning and do what we need to do to get that here, and the top half of our schedule was really stacked. At least it’s calmed down, so we’re ready to roll now.”
The Poets started their season with losses to Gilman and Mervo, a team the Red Storm defeated in Week 3. Last week, Dunbar defeated Boys’ Latin, and the rest of its games are in the Baltimore City Class 4A-3A Division.
“If we want to control our own destiny, we had to win this game,” said Poets linebacker Christopher Bazemore, who had a dominant performance, including several sacks. “Honestly, games like this are just to show us where we’re at, to show us the playmakers that we’ve got. We’ve got to win these type games right here because this is a 1A team and we can’t lose a game like this.”
The Poets (4-2, 3-1 division) ran the ball to get rolling. Darien, who finished with 57 yards on 18 carries, carried the ball six times for 39 yards on the first drive and Antonio Knox rushed once for 15 yards.
The Red Storm managed just one first down in the first quarter, and its mistakes led to the Poets’ second two touchdowns — a bad snap on a punt that set the Poets up on the Edmondson 4-yard line and a fumble recovered by Shaun Tolbert on the Edmondson 34.
“They really came back with a lot of power and we just didn’t match their physicality at the beginning of the game,” Edmondson coach Corey Johnson said. “We can’t warm up into a game. We’ve got to be physical from the start and that’s what it seemed like was happening.”
The Red Storm (3-3, 3-2) shouldn’t have difficulty qualifying for one of the four playoff berths in their Class1A South region. They were in second place coming into the game while the Poets were in seventh place in their region.