The countdown is complete, and McDonogh School is the top-ranked team in the 2016 Varsity Sports Network preseason Top 20 football poll.

VSN ranks the top teams in the Baltimore region which covers public and private schools in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Cecil County, Harford County and Howard County.

1. McDonogh School Eagles

2015 record: 6-3 (Final VSN Top 20 ranking: No. 2)

Coach: Dom Damico (23rd season; 141-71)

Returning starters – 8

Key returning starters – BJ Farrare, Sr., defensive back/wide receiver; Andrew Frailer, Sr., linebacker, 6-3, 240; Andrew Hurdle, Jr., linebacker/running back, Mylique McGriff, Sr., running back, 5-10, 195; Jordan McNair, Sr., offensive line, 6-5, 320; Darius Pickett, Jr., defensive back/wide receiver, 6-0, 210; Brandon Shure, Sr., defensive line, 6-3, 230; Chris Smith, Jr., fullback/linebacker, 6-0, 210 

Key returning players –  D’von Ellies, So., defensive line, 6-4, 270; PJ Mustipher, Jr., offensive/defensive line, 6-5, 290; Njay Nelson, Sr., defensive back, 5-10, 175; Parker Robinson, Jr., offensive line, 5-11, 240; Wayne Sharpe, Jr., defensive back, 5-9, 170; Deandre Tackett, Sr., linebacker, 5-10, 185

Key newcomers – Dejuan Ellis, Jr., quarterback, 5-11, 160; Curtis Jacobs, Fr., wide receiver, 6-2, 180

Outlook – The Eagles are the favorite to capture a third MIAA A Conference title in four seasons. The Owings Mills school opened the season with a hard fought 32-29 win over Washington Catholic Athletic Conference stronghold Gonzaga College in the District last Saturday.

Ellis accounted for 202 yards and two rushing scores. The Bishop O’Connell (Va.) transfer who recently committed to Virginia Tech is a dynamic dual threat. McGriff (80 yards last week) is the top back in the MIAA A. 

Johnson, McGriff’s backup, went for 119 yards and a touchdowns. Thornes, who caught two scores from reserve quarterback Nathan Walsh, headlines a deep receiving corp with Farrare, Jacobs, Pickett and Simmons.

McNair, a Maryland commit, and Mustipher, who has offers from Alabama, Notre Dame and Ohio State, are a potent 1-2 punch on the left side. Robinson (center), Johnstone (guard) and St. James transfer Knutson (tackle) helped the Eagles rushed for more 225 yards against Gonzaga last week.

“Jordan and PJ being more experience will help. Dejuan adds an incredible dimension to defense having to stop him running the ball as well as Mylique,” said Damico. 

Damico has Shure, Mustipher, Ellis and Johnstone on the starting defensive line unit and will use McNair, Knutson and Robinson. Linebacking could be the Eagles’ strongest unit with Frailer, Hurdle, Tackett and Smith, who played on the line last fall and may see time this season.

Farrare, an all-MIAA A selection last fall, will lead the secondary with Nelson, Pickett and Sharpe. Pickett had an interception in the Gonzaga victory last weekend.

“We’re not very deep, we lost some decent players,” Damico said. “Our top 25 is as good as anybody in the country.”

McDonogh has a tough non-schedule featuring Baltimore County champ Franklin Friday evening, and nationally-ranked DeMatha Catholic, the state’s No. 1 team in a couple of weeks ago. It will prepare the Eagles for the area’s toughest league, the MIAA A Conference, where all 7 members are in VSN’s preseason Top 20.

dom damico“If we can put our 11 best offensive guys and 11 best defensive guys, we can be competitive,” said Damico. “It’ll be a matter of keeping people healthy.”

2016 schedule

Aug. 27 – defeated Gonzaga College (D.C.), 32-29

Sept. 2 at Franklin, 7 p.m.

Sept. 9 vs. Bishop McNamara, 7 p.m.

Sept. 16 vs. DeMatha Catholic, 7 p.m.

Sept 24 vs. Canada Prep Academy, 7 p.m.

Oct. 7 at Loyola Blakefield, 4:30 p.m.

Oct. 14 vs. St. Frances Academy, 7 p.m.

Oct. 21 vs. Archbishop Spalding, 7 p.m.

Oct. 28 vs. Mount St. Joseph, 7 p.m.

Nov. 4 at Calvert Hall College, 7 p.m.

Nov. 12 at Gilman School, 1 p.m.

 

 

2016 VSN FOOTBALL TOP 20

 

RANK
TEAM
01 McDonogh Last Year: 6-3 (No. 2)
02 Archbishop Spalding Last Year: 8-4 (No. 7)
03 Broadneck Last Year: 10-3 (No. 5)
04 Howard Last Year: 13-1 (No. 4)
05 Mount Saint Joseph
Last Year: 8-3 (No. 8)

06 Old Mill
Last Year: 11-1 (No. 6)

07 Calvert Hall
Last Year: 5-6 (Not Ranked)

08 Franklin
Last Year: 10-2 (No. 10)

09 Gilman
Last Year: 10-1 (No. 1)

10 St. Frances
Last Year: 2-10 (Not Ranked)

11 Dunbar
Last Year: 9-3 (13)

12 South Carroll
Last Year: 10-2 (No. 14)

13 Dundalk
Last Year: 12-2 (No. 9)

14 John Carroll
Last Year: 12-0 (No. 3)

15 Annapolis
Last Year: 8-3 (No. 17)

16 Loyola Blakefield
Last Year: 5-6 (Not Ranked)

17 Arundel
Last Year: 7-3 (No. 11)

18 Bel Air
Last Year: 9-2 (No. 20)

19 Milford Mill
Last Year: 4-6 (Not Ranked)

20 Archbishop Curley
Last Year: 6-4 (Not Ranked)

2016 VSN FOOTBALL TOP 20 (2 thru 20)

 

 

RANK
TEAM
02 Archbishop Spalding Last Year: 8-4 (No. 7)
03 Broadneck Last Year: 10-3 (No. 5)
04 Howard Last Year: 13-1 (No. 4)
05 Mount Saint Joseph
Last Year: 8-3 (No. 8)

06 Old Mill
Last Year: 11-1 (No. 6)

07 Calvert Hall
Last Year: 5-6 (Not Ranked)

08 Franklin
Last Year: 10-2 (No. 10)

09 Gilman
Last Year: 10-1 (No. 1)

10 St. Frances
Last Year: 2-10 (Not Ranked)

11 Dunbar
Last Year: 9-3 (13)

12 South Carroll
Last Year: 10-2 (No. 14)

13 Dundalk
Last Year: 12-2 (No. 9)

14 John Carroll
Last Year: 12-0 (No. 3)

15 Annapolis
Last Year: 8-3 (No. 17)

16 Loyola Blakefield
Last Year: 5-6 (Not Ranked)

17 Arundel
Last Year: 7-3 (No. 11)

18 Bel Air
Last Year: 9-2 (No. 20)

19 Milford Mill
Last Year: 4-6 (Not Ranked)

20 Archbishop Curley
Last Year: 6-4 (Not Ranked)