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Josh Ehrlich is used to being underestimated.
Ehrlich stood out as a freshman starting quarterback for Broadneck, both because of his age but also because of how well the team fared. Many said at the time — and still do, three years later — that success boiled down to 2018 Capital Gazette Player of the Year and Boston College recruit Ethon Williams buoying his 14–year-old signal-caller.
“I picked up where Ethon left off. He told me before he left I had to be the guy for the next three years,” Ehrlich said. “That’s what I had to do, especially this year as it was my senior year. I had to go all out, and why not?”
Ehrlich certainly accomplished what he set out to do. The 6-foot senior flourished in his final year, passing for 1,934 yards and 27 touchdowns while rushing for 679 yards and six scores. He directed an offense that averaged 39 points per game as the Bruins went 8-2 overall and 6-0 in Anne Arundel County. That success has earned him the 2021 Capital Gazette football Player of the Year.
“Certainly I had a lot better understanding of what I was doing in the game. I understood our offense,” Ehrlich said. “We perfected it. We had a bunch of seniors on the team, guys I’d been playing with for so long, so it was kind of easy to get them acclimated, being a starter for four years.”
In the Broadneck’s blowout victory over Annapolis on Oct. 8, Ehrlich moved into second place all-time for career passing touchdowns in the state of Maryland, knocking current Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden (Friendly) and Deontay Twyman (Sherwood) out of a shared role. He ended his varsity years with 94, just 18 behind Billy Cosh of Arundel (112) for second-most among public-school passers.
Ehrlich also finished with 6,804 career passing yards, ranking fifth among public-school quarterbacks on a list also headed by Cosh (7,433).
Ehrlich is one of only 13 quarterbacks (public or private) in state history to throw for more than 6,000 yards and just missed becoming the seventh to eclipse 7,000. He also fell one completion shy of becoming the fourth MPSSAA quarterback to record 500 in a varsity career.
As can be said for so many athletes robbed of so much by the coronavirus, Ehrlich could have easily reached those marks had there been a full junior season. As such, the Annapolis resident became Broadneck’s all-time career passing leader during the four-game spring campaign then increased that mark this fall. He also finished as the Bruins’ all-time leader in completion percentage (58.2).
Despite the unforeseen misfortunes of a lost season, Ehrlich left the Cape St. Claire school with only one regret: Broadneck did not play for a state championship during his career.
“He’s always attacked football with one thing in mind,” Bruins coach Rob Harris said, “and that was to be the best.”
Mike Pfisterer possesses a unique perspective on Ehrlich — as a Broadneck assistant who helped mentor the youngster for three years and now as an opposing coach this fall. Pfisterer, who passed for 6,552 yards and 71 touchdowns while at North County, is now head coach at Old Mill.
“You could tell he’s the leader of the offense now, making all the plays, that he had control,” Pfisterer said. “He always made the play extend, which is hard on the defensive end of the ball to stop.”
Bolstering career stats didn’t matter as much to Ehrlich, who cared less about playing the movie-like star quarterback role and more about doing what was best for his team. Broadneck built commanding leads in seven of its games and Ehrlich watched younger players in need of experience from the sidelines in many of those fourth quarters.
Ehrlich has a scholarship offer from Marist of the Football Championship Subdivision and an invitation to become a preferred walk-on at Wake Forest. He was voted winner of the Jim Rhodes Memorial Trophy as the most outstanding player in Anne Arundel County.
Early on, the three-sport athlete separated himself more in football than basketball and baseball, and it’s clear to understand why. Football was always front and center when Ehrlich considered his future.
The Bruins fell below their standards in Ehrlich’s sophomore season, beginning the season 0-2 and finishing 4-6. Ehrlich embraced the responsibility and it shaped the way he moved forward.
“Because it was still fun. I heard a lot of hate at times, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. I’ve gotten used to the spotlight, used to people talking about me,” said Ehrlich, whose father Robert is a former Maryland governor. “I think my background and the way I was raised helped me not react.
“Everyone being so close for Broadneck … win or lose, we’re always going to stay together and pick each other up.”
As cheesy as it may sound, the joy Ehrlich experienced playing with longtime friends outshone everything else, including the losses and nasty whispers. It’s what he felt this season when a senior-heavy roster arrived at Broadneck’s turf for the opening day of football.
With aspirations of taking a loaded team to states, Ehrlich put in the work from March 2020 to August 2021. He drove around Arnold picking up teammates to toss the ball around, learn routes and condition. Ehrlich even enlisted his older brother Drew, a defensive back at Washington and Jefferson, as sergeant of his unofficial boot camp.
Harris saw his senior signal-caller speak up more, and grow as a leader, holding teammates accountable.
“People will remember what they first see when he came onto the scene, but by the time it’s over, he’s putting our kids in positions to look really good,” Harris said. “Every quarterback needs good players but not every good player makes the good players around him better.”
All three of Ehrlich’s top receivers finished with 400 to 500 receiving yards. To Harris, that spoke volumes. If their timing in practice didn’t fit perfectly, Ehrlich kept his receivers afterward until it did.
“He made sure there was no chance for communication or timing to be an issue,” Harris said.
It wasn’t enough for Ehrlich to connect with his skill players.
Anxiety clouded both games against Severna Park and Old Mill; the first being the Ravens Rise game and a rivalry, the latter a matchup between two teams with undefeated county records. Once Ehrlich let his worries go and showed faith in teammates is when he reached a fuller potential as a leader.
“Knowing their strength and what they do well,” Harris said. “His ability to trust and let go was a major factor.”
In the Old Mill game, Ehrlich orchestrated a drive just before halftime that resulted in a touchdown and gave Broadneck the momentum to ultimately take a 41-25 win.
Ehrlich missed out on chances for state glory in four years. As a freshman in 2018, South River upset previously unbeaten Broadneck in the first round. The Bruins were a non-factor his sophomore season and there was no state tournament his junior campaign.
Ehrlich and the Bruins seemed on the way to burying those bad memories this fall as they led C.H. Flowers late in regulation. However, a penalty flag thrown as Broadneck celebrated the impending win and ticket to the state semifinals sent matters to overtime, where host Flowers ultimately prevailed.
Ehrlich felt shell-shocked because he’d been so certain he’d bring the Bruins to states. He could see it, feel it.
Ironically, he might ultimately get to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium; he just won’t be wearing maroon, white or gray. He hopes to be wearing blue and gold as he hopes for an offer from Navy.
“It’s motivation. It has to be,” Ehrlich said. “The last football game I played, I lost. That’s what’s going to be on my mind until the next game I play.”
Co-Coach of the Year: Rob Elliott, Chesapeake
There has never been a better season in Chesapeake football history and only three points prevented the program from reaching the Class 3A state final.
Elliott admitted some nerves before this season with fewer players showing up to tryouts than the 11-year coach could remember and an extremely inexperienced offensive line.
Elliott nonetheless shepherded Chesapeake to a Class 3A region title (second in school history) and a 10-3 record (best in program history). The Cougars finished as the only Anne Arundel County public school team with 10 wins.
In addition, Chesapeake’s first win of the season over Western Tech made Elliott the winningest football coach in school history.
Co-Coach of the Year: Kyle Schmitt, Archbishop Spalding
Broadneck coach Rob Harris made a strong statement after his squad was beaten soundly by Spalding in the second week of the season. “That’s Kyle’s team. He’s been building to this moment for three years and everybody knows it,” Harris proclaimed.
This fall proved that was true: Spalding posted the first undefeated regular season in program history and did so in dominant fashion on the way to a 10-0 record. An upset loss to McDonogh in the MIAA A Conference semifinals would not blemish a memorable season.
The Cavaliers went 5-0 against conference opponents during the regular season and only one of those contests was close. Spalding earned its first victory over a Washington Catholic Athletic Association school when it beat then-nationally ranked Gonzaga, 20-13, in overtime.
Spalding’s offense averaged 33.8 points per game while none of its opponents could manage more than 13 points in a game, even in the playoff loss.
First team All-County — Offense
Wyatt Cotton, St. Mary’s, junior, running back
First-year starter rushed for 1,088 yards and 13 touchdowns. Boasts the speed, vision and toughness to go all the way whenever he touched the ball. Named first team All-MIAA B Conference.
Jordan Harris, Spalding, senior, running back
Explosive tailback rushed for 1,103 and 13 touchdowns. Runs the 40-yard dash in just under 4.5 seconds. Ripped off four runs of 50 yards or more. Holds offers from Monmouth and Columbia.
Victor Listorti, Chesapeake, senior, running back
Naval Academy commit set single-season school records with 1,983 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns. Used powerful, shifty style to average 7.5 yards per carry. Broke eight runs of 50 yards or more thanks to superb vision. Also finished third on the team in tackles.
Donte Craggett-Drake, Old Mill, junior, wide receiver
Speedster hauled in 44 receptions for 905 yards and 12 touchdowns. Was a vertical threat that could take the top off opposing defenses, averaging 20 yards per catch and 90 receiving yards per game.
Kyle Pierce, Broadneck, senior, wide receiver
Three-year starter developed into a tremendous route-runner. Led Bruins with 33 receptions for 423 yards and 10 touchdowns. Averaged 12.8 yards per catch. Will play Division I lacrosse at Mercer.
Jermaine Hunt, Annapolis, senior, fullback
Led Panthers with 706 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Broke loose for 74-yard touchdown run in final minutes to beat Severna Park. Captain also played linebacker and was heart-and-soul of Panthers.
Casey Cavanaugh, St. Mary’s, junior, center
Made up for lack of size with toughness and tenacity. Competitive nature allowed him to consistently win inside matchups with bigger nose guards and tackles.
Austin Greenan, South River, senior, center
Four-year starter moved from right tackle for final campaign. Boasts best footwork South River coach Steve Erxleben has seen and also impressed with hand placement and pad level. Top blocker for team that rushed for more than 3,000 yards.
Brian Baucia, Spalding, senior, guard
Played with an edge and finished blocks until the final whistle. Agile run blocker in Spalding’s gap and zone schemes. Dominant pass blocker while regularly working against Division I interior linemen.
J’Marion Simms, Broadneck, senior, guard
Three-year starter described as “old-school road grader,” by coach Rob Harris. Massive 6-foot-2, 330-pounder was reliable lead blocker counted on to create holes. Holds numerous Division II offers.
Hunter Beck, Chesapeake, senior, tackle
Top offensive lineman for team that totaled 2,870 rushing yards and 40 touchdowns. Fundamentally sound with great technique. Two-way starter also had 18 tackles and three sacks on defense.
Ayden Wheless, Broadneck, senior, tackle
Highly intelligent and athletic right tackle was equally effective as a run or pass blocker. Naval Academy commit held C.H. Flowers four-star end Desmond Umeozulu without a sack in playoff game.
Trey Smack, Severna Park, senior, punter/kicker
Florida signee made 5 of 9 field goals with a long of 52 yards and went 27-for-29 on extra points. Generated power with 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame and boomed 39 of 46 kickoffs into end zone for touchbacks. Also averaged 44.5 yards on 24 punts with a long of 60 yards.
Trashaun Timmons, South River, senior, athlete
Versatile performer was forced to play quarterback and led team to first-round playoff victory over Great Mills. Rushed for 364 yards and 10 touchdowns, completed 20 of 26 passes for 222 yards and amassed 208 yards on nine returns. Produced touchdowns in five different ways.
First team All-County — Defense
Jack Bousum, St. Mary’s, senior, end
Army recruit terrorized opposing offenses with size (6-foot-5, 225 pounds), athleticism and high motor. All-MIAA B Conference pick totaled 59 tackles (14 for loss), eight sacks, three forced fumbles and three pass deflections.
Kellan Wyatt, Spalding, senior, end
Maryland signee totaled 51 tackles (nine for loss) and five sacks despite constant double-teams. Four-year starter closed out career with 142 tackles, 12 sacks and 25 tackles for loss. Winner of Al Laramore Award as most outstanding down lineman in Anne Arundel County.
Andrew Webb, Arundel, senior, tackle
Long, athletic interior lineman generated 21 ½ tackles (16 solo), 5 ½ sacks and team-high 14 ½ tackles for loss for state semifinalists. A 6-foot-1, 200-pounder with a high motor and nose for the football relied on methodical technique to come up big when Wildcats needed it most.
Jackson Cohenour, Old Mill, senior, inside linebacker
This 5-foot-11, 175-pound multi-sport athlete was a tackling machine. Led Patriots with 92 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Used high football IQ and length to always find the ball.
Hunter Green, Arundel, senior, inside linebacker
Captain and emotional leader for Wildcats used strong intellect and knowledge of game to produce team-best 46 ½ tackles (42 solo), four sacks and 14 tackles for loss. Blocked two punts in crucial situations.
Dom Downs, Broadneck, senior, outside linebacker
Multi-talented backer excelled whether defending run, rushing passer or dropping into coverage. Second on squad with 40 tackles (29 solo) despite missing almost two games. Led Bruins with 15 tackles for loss and also had three forced fumbles. Holds seven Division II scholarship offers.
Jason Robertson, Spalding, senior, outside linebacker
Overpowering edge player led team with 62 tackles (12 for loss) and seven sacks. Dangerous pass rusher had double-digit quarterback hurries and stood tall against the run. Holds Morgan State offer.
Caleb Sartalamachia, Severna Park, senior, outside linebacker
Battled back from ACL injury to record team-high 55 tackles (25 solo, seven for loss). Also had two sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and four blocked kicks. Multi-sport athlete with superb leaping ability was counted on to drop into coverage and was always around the ball.
Kyle Lane, Chesapeake, senior, safety
Multi-purpose defender had 51 tackles, two sacks and four interceptions. Extremely hard hitter had an interception in three of four playoff games for Class 3A state semifinalists. Also accounted for 184 yards rushing and 180 yards receiving with three touchdowns on offense and returned two kickoffs for scores.
Lavain Scruggs, Spalding, senior, safety
Strong, physical safety was quarterback of defense recorded 20 tackles and returned an interception 71 yards for a touchdown. Rangy 6-foot-2, 190-pound Baltimore resident signed with Maryland in December.
Timothy Tripplett, Old Mill, senior, safety
Two-way standout provided 24 tackles, two sacks and three interceptions that were returned for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Possesses great ball skills and was dominant on any jump balls. Shifty playmaker found the end zone six times on offense for the Patriots.
Mansoor Delane, Spalding, senior, cornerback
Signed with Virginia Tech in December after considering late offer from Michigan State. Notched 24 tackles and three interceptions. Silver Spring resident was sticky in coverage and solid in run support.
Jerrell Howard, Old Mill, senior, cornerback
Lockdown corner accounted for 20 tackles and five interceptions. Scored two defensive touchdowns. Outstanding man-to-man coverage skills allowed coaching staff to routinely leave him on an island.
Rushaun Tongue, Chesapeake, junior, cornerback
Dynamic athlete contributed 28 tackles, four interceptions (returned two for scores) and two fumble recoveries. Also had 16 receptions for 309 yards and four touchdowns as receiver on offense and ran two kickoffs back for touchdowns. Already has offers from Virginia Tech, Boston College and Virginia.
Myles Fulton, Old Mill, senior, quarterback
Nick Gutierrez, Spalding, senior, quarterback
Chris Booze, Old Mill, senior, running back
Brady Ervin, Severn, senior, running back
Ahmad Taylor, Arundel, junior, running back
Davion White, Broadneck, senior, running back
Jordan Pennick, Spalding, senior, wide receiver
Zion Pinkney, Glen Burnie, senior, wide receiver
RJ Breeden, Northeast, senior, tight end
Dylan Lewis, Chesapeake, junior, fullback
Howie Durley, Broadneck, senior, center
Matthew Benny, Spalding, senior, guard
Caleb Herb, South River, junior, guard
Jim Fitzgerald, Spalding, senior, tackle
Jayden Joyce, Broadneck, senior, tackle
Will Ennis, Old Mill, senior, athlete
Joel Foster, Chesapeake, senior, end
Josh Hardy, AACS, senior, end
Jalen Robertson, Spalding, senior, end
Colby Strange, South River, junior, end
Gabe White, Southern, senior, end
Dylan Carl, St. Mary’s, junior, tackle
Tyler Hicks, Broadneck, sophomore, tackle
Shiloh Smith, North County, junior, tackle
Lonnell Owens-Pabon, South River, senior, inside linebacker
Matthew Romo, St. Mary’s, senior, inside linebacker
Abraham Sani, Crofton, junior, inside linebacker
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Camden Neisweinder, Arundel, junior, outside linebacker
Jaeden Russell, South River, senior, outside linebacker
Shawn Cooper, Annapolis, junior, safety
Shane Toal, St. Mary’s, junior, safety
Jalen Carter, Broadneck, junior, cornerback
Kemari Taylor, Annapolis, senior, cornerback