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No. 1 Gilman batters Calvert Hall for MIAA A football crown; Cockerille rushes for 228 yards (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS HERE!!)

shane cockerilleVIDEO by Tony Powell

PHOTOS by John Moore & Derek Toney

Gilman School football’s team wore new uniforms for Saturday night’s MIAA A Conference championship game – a light gray and power blue combination.

And the Greyhounds did what they do best: leave an opponent black and blue. Top-ranked Gilman routed No. 2 Calvert Hall College, 35-7, at Unitas Stadium for its second straight championship.

Senior quarterback Shane Cockerille rushed for 228 yards and two touchdowns for Gilman (9-2 overall), and threw a scoring pass to senior tight end Henry Poggi. Colar Kuhns accounted for Calvert Hall’s only score with a short run, and passed for 138 yards.

In winning its 11th crown in the MIAA era, Gilman claimed ownership of the Mike Whittles Trophy, named after the Archbishop Spalding coach who died in June after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. His mantra “Make everyday count,” was an inspiration to those around him during his 18-month fight.

Gilman coach Biff Poggi was one of many touched Whittles’ grace and spirit. Poggi said football serves as a conduit.

“Everyday we talked about things more important than football. We talked about God and how to live our lives,” said Poggi. “This team is living life the right way and I’m proud of them for it.”

After opening its season with a nationally-televised match (vs. Ohio’s Moeller on ESPNU), Gilman ended it with a methodical pounding of its rival in front of 4,700 at Towson University and a local television audience. Gilman ran for 345 yards and four touchdowns Saturday, beating the Cardinals for the fourth straight time.

“They’re hard-nosed kids who say ‘yes sir, we’re going to run the ball,’” said Ned Emala, the senior member of an offensive line unit featuring seniors Skeet Gillet, Quinn Flaxs, Connor Webb, juniors Arian Mayeux and Chibuzo Ukandu, and freshman Steve Spanellis. “It’s a season long effort. You put in the work and it paid off tonight.”

“We pound the ball on people and wear them out,” said Cockerille, who will play for the University of Maryland next season. “It starts off a little slow but once you get wore down with me and Wyatt [Dickerson] running, it’s over.”

Dickerson, a senior added 79 yards and two touchdowns Saturday. In the second half, Dickerson and Cockerille combined for 202 yards.

A year ago, Dickerson was the hero, knocking Calvert Hall’s two-point pass in the second overtime, clinching a 34-32 victory in last year’s inaugural title game. It was arguably the penultimate game between the Cardinals and Greyhounds, who’ve been battling for supremacy in the area’s premier league the last three seasons.

Outside of the first quarter of team’s Oct. meeting at Russo Stadium, Gilman has dominated, outscoring Calvert Hall (8-3), 56-7, over the last seven quarters.

“They got big, strong kids. Their quarterback is 200 pounds who can run downhill and is a former wrestler,” Cardinals coach Donald Davis. “Their style fit the kids they have. I thought our kids were up to the task, but they just made more plays.”

The Greyhounds dissected Calvert Hall’s front with nine runs in an 11-play, 90-yard drive, capped with Cockerille’s one-yard push into the end zone, midway in the second quarter. Matt Tilley came up with an interception off a tip Kuhns pass at Gilman’s 41, returning the ball to the Cardinals’ 33.

Several plays later, Dickerson crossed the end zone from a yard out as Gilman led 14-0 at halftime. In the previous three meetings, Calvert Hall owned a two score lead during the first half.

With a two touchdown advantage Saturday, Gilman simply said “Here comes the boom.”

“We wanted to do some things on the perimeter and we did OK,” said Biff Poggi. “Once the second quarter started we wanted to run it right at them.”

“We get after it,” said Henry Poggi. “In practice, we get after it and our scout team is as good as the teams we play.”

Poggi, an University of Michigan recruit, hauled in Cockerille’s pass from 10 yards, completing an 11-play, 76-yard drive. It would be the last of just five pass attempts Saturday for Gilman.

Kuhns completed 14 of 22 attempts, but was often under distressed from Gilman’s pass rush. Junior defensive end Melvin Keihn had two sacks with Poggi and senior Nick Fertitta getting one each.

Caught in a pile, Kuhns worked his way across the goal line from four yards for the Cardinals’ first and only score with 6:59 left in regulation. It was a rare positive run for Calvert Hall, which finished minus-5 rushing Saturday.

“Since that first half against Moeller, we’ve been pretty dominant,” Greyhounds senior linebacker Micah Kiser, whose unit allowed seven touchdowns in seven league matches (including playoffs) this season. “We wanted to be the best defense in the state. I think we were the best team in the state on defense.”

Biff Poggi said the 2012 edition is his best. While the Greyhounds left litle doubt Saturday, Poggi, who won his 11th title at his alma-mater, may have coached his final game. He’s hinted the past couple of seasons about bringing his coaching tenure to a close.

“I’ll be making an announcement within the month,” said Poggi, who succeeded Sherm Bristow in 1996 and coached his three sons, Sam, Jim and Henry during his stay.

If Poggi decides to leave, he couldn’t have written a better ending Saturday.

“It’s the most complete team, our defense is unbelievable and the offense is punishing, it’s my kind of team,” said Poggi. “I’m really happy for the kids. This [championship] was probably the most special.”

Last Updated (Sunday, 18 November 2012 11:40)



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