If you're from the Baltimore Metropolitan area, than you should be excited for the September 4th matchup between private school powerhouse, McDonogh Eagles, and public school powerhouse, Franklin Indians.
Two schools separated by less than 10 miles, both coming off of championship winning seasons; Eagles winning the MIAA A conference and Franklin win the 3A state title for the 2nd year straight. McDonogh has already played one game, defeating Bishop O' Connell 38-0 last weekend on the road, while Franklin will be playing their first game of the season.
Friday Night at 7pm they will have a much tougher opponent on their home soil.
“It's a game that everyone wants to see,” said Anthony Burgos, head coach of Franklin, “A lot of these kids live close to each other, some [of them] choose to go public, some choose to go private, so overall I think it is going to be a great event”.
I can't think of a game that has had this much anticipation, from not only the schools, but also the community. Private vs. Public is always great to watch but when those schools are close in area, it makes the match-up that more important.
“I think it's going to be an electric atmosphere,” said Don Damico, coach of McDonogh. “It's a Friday Night game, our kids know their kids, so it's going to be a lot of excitement on and off the field”
This game has potential to be one of the best games of the year. Both teams are loaded with D1 talent, even after losing talent. Franklin has their blue chipper in Wide Receiver Steven Smothers, who will be guarded by McDonogh blue chipper, Safety Eric Burrell. ESPN has both players ranked top-ten in the state of Maryland. Burrell(12th) and Smothers (8th) will have double-duties, playing offense and defense.
At the McDonogh practice, Burrell ran a few fly routes, connecting with QB Jansen Durham. Durham showed some good accuracy during the Eagles Thursday practice but I'm not sure if he will have that much time to sit in the pocket and sling the ball.
The Eagles also has a couple freshmen that will see the field Friday Night, one of which I think will be the X-Factor. Jabriel Johnson practiced with the 1st team offense on Thursday and he was impressive to say the least. He showed quickness and good awareness, something that could surprise the Indians.
The Indians lost some talent but they still have the best playmaker in the area, if not the state in Smothers. Jimmy Lahay will replace Jaquez Adams, who started quarterback for the Indians the last two seasons. Lahay, a senior, is known to be a pocket passer but does not have the experience. He will have a good set of receivers to toss the ball too, with Smothers and senior Murad Hussain on the other side.
This will be the Indians third straight season opener against a MIAA school, losing to Calvert Hall in back-to-back season. Franklin would go on to win state titles in each of those season, with a 27-3 record. On the other side, this will McDonogh first public school opponent that won a state title in recent memory. None the less, I expect a great one.