Sophomore quarterback Smith comes off the bench to spark undefeated John Carroll (VIDEO HERE!!)

Sophomore quarterback Scott Smith (left) threw for a pair of first half touchdowns and senior linebacker Isacc Myers had a big night for a John Carroll defense which pitched a shutout.

by Gary Adornato

Despite a misty rain that swirled throughout, the stands were packed and the excitement was palpable prior the 2018 edition of the Battle of Bel Air, as the John Carroll School football team visited Bel Air’s Bobcat Stadium for a showdown of two squads separated by less than two miles in Harford County’s largest city.

Founded last year, the Battle of Bel Air features the schools squaring off in all of their fall sports, boys and girls, on one weekend, with the highlight being the varsity football battle.

In this one, the defenses dominated for much of the opening quarter, but undefeated John Carroll (3-0) got a big spark from sophomore quarterback Scott Smith who came off the bench to throw a pair of first half touchdowns and vault the Patriots to a 27-0 victory.

Smith came on late in the first quarter when starting quarterback Will Gianelli suffered a gash on his chin. After handing off on his first play, Smith rolled to his left on his second snap and lofted a beautiful deep ball to junior Malik Scott who was all alone racing down the left sideline. Scott caught the ball in stride and cruised into the end zone with 1:34 to play in the opening quarter.

Smith, who has seen playing time in all three John Carroll games thus far, said his success comes from being prepared to go in at any time.

“It’s a thing, trying to always be ready,” said Smith. “Standing next to coaches and making sure I know the play, even when I am not in, helps me start strong.”

Smith played the entire second quarter and led a six play, 34-yard drive, late in the opening half, which he capped with a 1-yard TD toss to junior Dominic Berdnt, with 41-seconds left before intermission.

“We’ve been playing two quarterbacks all year,” said first year John Carroll head coach Ken Brinkman. “Every week one of them takes a lead or does something. Will busted his chin open and Scott came in and did well. He’s young and makes some mistakes, but we coach him up and he has a bright future. It’s great to have two guys we can turn to and both do good things for us.”

Speaking of good things, Brinkman got them all night from his defense.

The defense setup the second Patriots’ scoring drive by forcing the Bobcats (0-2) to punt from their own end zone, giving Smith and the offense a short field to navigate.

Gianelli returned in the second half and led the Patriots back to the end zone in each of their first two possessions. On a seven-play 52-yard march, Gianelli complete three passes for 39 yards, all to junior Austin Brinkman, before senior Chimzu Chuku broke loose for a 20-yard touchdown run.

Bel Air, which was hampered by the early departure of star running back Hunter Hruz (leg injury), was unable to convert a fourth-and-one from its own 23 on its ensuing possession, turning the ball over to the Patriots on downs. A holding penalty drove John Carroll back to the 34, on its first play, but on the next snap sophomore Roman Hemby went the distance for the game’s final score.

“This is huge,” said senior linebacker Isaac Myers, one of the leaders of the defensive unit, of winning the rivalry game. “Knowing we own the town is a good feeling.”

Myers, however, cautioned that his team must now reset as it heads into its MIAA B Conference opener next week against Boys’ Latin.

“This week we know we’re starting out 0-0. We’re going to have to take every game, one at a time.”

Brinkman praised the two schools for arranging the Battle of Bel Air.

“I’m very happy for the people who were able to set this up, for two schools which are so close to play each other,” he said. “It’s great to see the stands full. It’s a great environment for kids to play in. Those guys know each other, so for us to come in here and play well against a well coached team that can run the ball. It feels very good to get the win.”

Bel Air coach Dave Huryk agreed.

“It’s a positive atmosphere for a game,” said Huryk. “Our guys get really excited about playing John Carroll, a cross-town rival. Most of the kids grew up together and played together at some point. It is a good atmosphere for the school and an exciting night.”

Huryk reluctantly admitted that the Bobcats, who rely heavily on their rushing game, were impacted by Hruz’s injury.

“It definitely effects you,” said Huryk. “Hunter is a good player, but you have to have the next man up mentality. We were limited in some of the other things we were attempting to do, but overall we missed opportunities that were there. Not taking anything away from John Carroll. They’e a very good team. They made it tough on us to get little bits of yards here and there.

“We’re not done by any stretch of the imagination. We are a good football team. We played two very good football teams already. We’re gonna go back to the drawing board and we’ll be back next week to play hard again.”

Pictured above: John Carroll coach Ken Brinkman addresses his team after its impressive 27-0 win over Bel Air in the Battle of Bel Air.

JC 7 7 13 0 — 27
BA 0 0 0 0 — 0

JC – Malik Scott 59 pass from Scott Smith (Garrett Phillips kick)

JC – Dominic Berdt 1 pass from Smith (Phillips kick)

JC – Chimzi Chuko 20 run (kick failed)
JC – Roman Hemby 34 run (Phillips kick)