The Military Bowl Foundation and DC Touchdown Club are partnering with WTOP during the 2020-2021 high school football season to honor a Player of the Week. Read about this week’s Player of the Week below.
Howard High Coach Ross Hannon had a simple goal this season: Get the ball in Curtis Eley’s hands more often. So when Eley, who plays all over the field for Howard, including as the team’s punt returner, let a few punts bounce and did not return them in the Lions’ first game this season, Hannon went after him.
“I challenged him that he has to want that ball,” Hannon said.
After Eley returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown this past Friday night, he returned to the sideline with a question for his coach: “Was that ‘want’ enough?” Eley said.
“That wasn’t bad,” Hannon said. “When he sees a gap, he hits it.”
Eley, a senior who lines up at wide receiver and running back on offense and free safety on defense, also rushed 10 times for 63 yards, caught an 18-yard pass and on defense made six tackles and broke up two passes as Howard beat Long Reach, 28-7. For his efforts, Eley was named the Military Bowl DC Touchdown Club High School Football Player of the Week.
“We’ve had some really good players over the year, but he might just be the most explosive one with his vision,” Hannon said. “I’m excited that we’re playing this year, otherwise nobody would know about him. His ball skills are great, instincts are great and for a guy that looks lean, he’s awfully strong.”
Eley returned three kickoffs for touchdowns during the 2019 season and had a 68-yard touchdown catch in Howard’s previous game this spring. Long touchdowns run in the family; his older brother is former West Virginia University standout and NFL player Tavon Austin, who holds Maryland high school records for career points, touchdowns, total offensive yards and rushing yards.
Others receiving Player of the Week consideration were:
Severna Park running back Colin Shadowens rushed for 91 yards and scored two touchdowns as the Falcons beat North County, 27-6.
Brunswick running back Wylan Harich rushed 18 times for 178 yards and three touchdowns as the Railroaders beat Catoctin, 28-6.
Loudoun Valley kicker Henry McClellan made a 37-yard field goal in the final minute to lift Loudoun Valley to a 10-8 win over Avalon, the Vikings’ first win of the season.
Wakefield linebacker Michael Guruli recovered a fumble in the end zone for one touchdown and forced a fumble, that he recovered, and returned 31 yards for a score as the Warriors beat Justice, 33-6.
Gar-Field quarterback Bishop Fitzgerald had a 39-yard touchdown run and threw the decisive 97-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarterback as the Indians beat Freedom-Woodbridge, 14-9, to win the Cardinal District title, their first district title since 1994.
Huntingtown quarterback Noah Kuntz rushed for three touchdowns as the Hurricanes beat Patuxent, 20-7.
Gonzaga running back Jaylen Laudermilk rushed 25 times for 176 yards and two touchdowns as the Eagles edged St. Mary’s Ryken, 12-9 in overtime.