For the third straight year, Dunbar is the Class 2A/1A state football champion.
The Poets defeated Calvert, 8-0, on Friday night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis to finish undefeated for the third straight season at 11-0.
The championship is No. 13 for Dunbar, breaking a tie with Seneca Valley for the most in Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association history.
“We finished all the goals we set as a program back in January,” acting head coach Michael Carter Sr. said. “This is a special group of guys right here.”
In a back-and-forth defensive affair, it was a 36-yard touchdown run by Antonio Lyde in the third quarter that made the difference. Lyde finished with 67 yards on the ground, leading a rushing attack that carried the Poets as they controlled the ball for much of the second half.
With the game scoreless at the half, the offensive focus switched to Lyde. The senior has scored in all three state championship games he’s played in, capping his career with a busy game in which he played running back, quarterback, defensive back and even returned punts and kicks as the coaching staff pulled all the stops to get the ball in his hands.
Dunbar acting football coach Michael Carter Sr. holds the trophy after winning the Class 2A/1A state championship game Friday night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff Photo)
“I talked to my O-line at the half and told them to just put a hand on somebody, anybody,” said Lyde, who finished with 194 yards from scrimmage. “I thanked our defense for keeping us in the game and giving us a chance.”
Defensively, the Poets held strong throughout the entire game. The Cavaliers finished with just 91 total yards on offense and went 2-for-11 on third down. A key factor was the defense holding star running back Domaine Wallace to just 2.7 yards per carry, a far cry from the 6.2 he averaged heading into the game.
Adjusting and responding has been key for a Dunbar program that was faced with adversity from the start of the season. The team’s first two games ended abruptly without being completed, including a highly anticipated private vs. public school showdown against Loyola Blakefield on Sept. 1 that ended after shots were fired just outside the Poets’ stadium in East Baltimore, injuring a 12-year-old boy.
Weeks later, the program went in a new direction after coach Lawrence Smith was arrested by FBI agents on charges of wire fraud, tax evasion and falsifying a tax return. Smith is one of just three MPSSAA coaches with eight state titles, and his 49 playoff wins are the most by any coach. Still, the staff and players forged on, shaking off all distractions and finishing off another historic season.
Dunbar’s Antonio Lyde (8) scores a touchdown against Calvert during the third quarter of the Class 2A/1A state championship game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff Photo)
Looking at his players postgame, Carter reflected on the path his team took to secure the third three-peat in program history.
“We built a circle around these boys and leaned on each other for strength,” Carter said. “A lot of the negative comes out in the news but these are great guys here, 3.2 team GPA, kids going to college. This is bigger than football.”