Two unique on-field talents and a pair of longtime sideline leaders highlight the 2022 Baltimore Banner/VSN Football honors.

As a first-year starter, Malik Washington surpassed expectations, leading Archbishop Spalding to its first MIAA A Conference crown. The sophomore is our Player of the Year.

Dashawn Womack showed why he’s one of the nation’s elite linemen for national powerhouse St. Frances. The senior is our Defensive Player of the Year.

After a heartbreak in 2021, Kyle Schmitt guided Spalding to the top of the area’s premier conference. The 10th-year coach is our co-Coach of the Year.

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After a 35-year wait, Reggie White came full circle at his alma-mater Milford Mill. The 20th-year coach is our co-Coach of the Year.

Here are their stories.

Archbishop Spalding quarterback Malik Washington, the 2022 Baltimore Banner/VSN Football Offensive Player of the Year. (Uriah Salter)

Offensive Player of the Year

Malik Washington, Archbishop Spalding

Though the 2021 season ended in disappointment, there was a sense of excitement and anticipation around the Archbishop Spalding football program entering the fall with Washington assuming the “QB 1″ role.

The hype was more than real as Washington guided the Anne Arundel County private school to its finest season. The sophomore is the Baltimore Banner/VSN Football Offensive Player of the Year.

“I thought he was really good but wasn’t sure he would be this good,” said Cavaliers coach Kyle Schmitt. “We knew all summer there was something really special. He made other guys better and that’s the sign of a great player.”

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Washington, 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, completed 221 of 370 attempts for 2,979 yards and 29 touchdowns for Spalding (11-1 overall), which won its first MIAA A Conference championship and placed No. 2 in the final Baltimore Banner/VSN Football Top 15.

Washington, a backup in 2021 who played in the final series of Spalding’s 7-0 semifinal home loss to McDonogh, was ready to assume the reins.

“I prepared as if anything could happen and had to step in. Every week, I prepared for the speed of the game,” said Washington of his backup role. “What made it (2022) easy was the work put in. It wasn’t something freaky that happened overnight.”

In his first start at New Jersey powerhouse Don Bosco Prep, Washington threw for 248 yards and a touchdown in a 48-28 loss. A couple of weeks later, he threw an 87-yard pass to Max Moss with less than a minute remaining in regulation, lifting Spalding to a 20-13 victory over Imhotep Charter (PA).

In the Cavaliers’ MIAA A opener at then-defending champ Calvert Hall, Washington threw for 292 yards and two scores in a 42-7 romp. After another clean run through the MIAA regular season, Spalding found itself down again to McDonogh in the semifinals.

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“Everybody was saying we’re going to choke again. We wanted to prove everybody wrong,” said Washington. “More importantly, we want to prove to ourselves what we were capable of.”

Final score: Spalding 41, McDonogh 6. Washington connected with Moss on a 41-yard pass in the second quarter to start a 41-point run to the Cavaliers’ first MIAA A postseason victory.

In the MIAA A final at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, he directed a momentum-setting opening scoring drive with a touchdown pass as Spalding completed a perfect league run (8-0) with a 34-10 decision over Calvert Hall.

Washington, who threw 19 of his 28 touchdown passes against MIAA A competition, went 39-of-58 for 457 yards, 5 touchdowns and no interceptions in the postseason.

Schmitt said Washington is wise beyond his young age.

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“He showed up in the spring of 2021 and prepared like he was in the starting lineup. It never wavered,” said Schmitt. “He’s such a fit at Spalding. He’s beloved. This is a kid that’s well liked off the field as much as on the field.”

An all-MIAA A selection with early scholarship offers from the University of Maryland, Penn State and Virginia Tech, Washington is the first sophomore to win a Baltimore Banner/VSN Football Player of the Year honor. He was also awarded the Mears Trophy as Anne Arundel County’s top football player.

St. Frances Academy's Dashawn Womack, the 2022 Baltimore Banner/VSN Football Defensive Player of the Year. (Derek Toney)

Defensive Player of the Year

Dashawn Womack, St. Frances Academy

Womack is arguably the best in a long line of elite defensive linemen produced by the East Baltimore school. The senior is the Baltimore Banner/VSN Football Defensive Player of the Year.

Womack, 6-foot-5 and 240-pounds, finished with 48 tackles (26 for loss), 15 quarterback sacks and 5 fumble recoveries for the Panthers, who were the No. 1 team in the final Baltimore Banner/VSN Top 15. St. Frances was also ranked among the top squads in the nation.

“We accomplished a lot. The brotherhood we have is long term,” said Womack. “The main goal was to have fun on the journey.”

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After posting 44 tackles and 11 sacks in his junior season in 2021, Womack exploded at the Future 50 Camp over the summer. With his size, power and athleticism, Womack was rated a consensus national Top 10 defensive end in the Class of 2023.

Panthers coach Messay Hailemariam says Womack “epitomizes,” St. Frances.

“He’s a local kid, four-year player who’s worked really hard and learned from some of the best,” said Hailemariam. “He’s the whole package: size, speed, explosiveness, athleticism. He has all those attributes.”

Womack, who started playing football in 8th grade with Parkside Warriors youth program, moved into a prominent role on the Panthers’ defensive front as a sophomore, alongside Chris Braswell (Alabama), Derrick Moore (Michigan) and Demon Clowney.

“We knew we had something special. He was lanky and tough,” said Hailemariam. “We knew in two or three years he would come into his own. He showed you that everyday in practice.”

Womack said he embraced the role of a leader this season.

“I’m a little more outspoken,” said Womack. “I want to be a better person and a better football player.”

Womack is the third St. Frances player selected Defensive Player of the Year, joining Moore and Eyabi Okie (formerly Anoma), who is also at Michigan.

“He has the most upside out of all of them,” said Hailemariam.

Womack will play in the Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando, Jan. 3. He plans to sign with LSU during the early national signing period next week.

Archbishop Spalding's Kyle Schmitt, the 2022 Baltimore Banner/VSN Football Co-Coach of the Year. (Derek Toney)

Co-Coach of the Year

Kyle Schmitt, Archbishop Spalding

After bitter disappointment in 2021, Schmitt guided the Cavaliers to their finest hour this fall. Schmitt is the Baltimore Banner/VSN Football Co-Coach of the Year.

The Anne Arundel County school won its first MIAA A Conference championship, defeating then-reigning champ Calvert Hall at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Spalding went 8-0 (including playoffs) through the area’s toughest league.

Last year, the Cavaliers posted their first undefeated regular season since 2006. The top-seed in the MIAA A playoffs, Spalding was stunned by fourth-seeded McDonogh in the semifinals.

With a talented senior nucleus gone, Schmitt had to retooled the Cavaliers this season.

“I said to the kids, ‘listen, you know you bare the grunt of the success last year,’” said Schmitt. “They didn’t blink after we were 0-1.”

After losing its season opener at New Jersey’s Don Bosco Prep, Spalding won its final 11 decisions, including victories over Pennsylvania 5A state finalist Imhotep Charter, WCAC semifinalist Gonzaga College (D.C.) and six teams that were ranked in the Baltimore Banner/Varsity Sports Network’s Top 15 during the fall.

The Cavaliers outscored opponents, 413-126, in their final 11 games.

Schmitt said Spalding didn’t focus on last year’s stinging end.

“They (the players) may have talked about it internally, but it wasn’t a topic of conversation as a program. It was a new group,” said Schmitt. “This group was close on both sides of the ball…Some were playing youth ball a year ago, some were playing JV football, some were on the scout team. They were a little bit ignorant to what they were accomplishing.”

Schmitt, 41, a former starting center and graduate assistant at the University of Maryland, decided a couple of years ago to give up offensive play calling.

“My passion shifted to building the culture...there’s more for me to learn,” said Schmitt, who played for Ralph Fridgen at Maryland, whose staff included Tom Brannan (Schmitt’s line coach) current Terps coach Mike Locksley, Penn State coach James Franklin and former Penn State and Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien (currently offensive coordinator at Alabama). “We’re really deliberate in who we want to be. We want to play fast on defense, we want to be multiple on offense. We’ve definitely defined who we are better in the last few years.”

It was on full display for Spalding - which got its first MIAA A playoff victory after four losses - in the MIAA A title game. Sophomore quarterback Malik Washington threw two passes to senior Max Moss, and senior running back Hakim Simms scored twice including an 89-yard run. The defense forced four turnovers, including a pick-six from senior linebacker PJ Poknis.

The victory completed a journey by the Severn school, started three decades ago by Mike Whittles. Whittles, a successful coach with the Severna Park Green Hornets Youth League, took over a downtrodden Spalding program and turned it into a MIAA B powerhouse (four titles in a six-year stretch).

He led the Cavaliers into the A Conference in 2011. A year later, Whittles died after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer.

After a successful stint at Atholton in Howard County (38-9), Schmitt was named the permanent successor to Whittles in 2013.

“I walked into an impressive foundation, kids who love football and love Spalding. High character kids who are the extension of the school,” said Schmitt. “There’s so much respect for the previous coaches and players in the program. Coach Whittles did an amazing job.”

Schmitt, whose staff includes Tyrone Forby, Anthony Messenger, Scott Swope, John Buonassisi, John Stein, Tyler Young, Justin Carey, Myles Edmonds, Howard Duncan, Jack Hanratty, Nick Vermillion, Kevin Klasmeier, JP Harper and Ashley Clark, won his 100th career game during the regular season. The Derry, PA native is 69-31-1 in 10 seasons at Spalding (106-40-1 in 14 seasons overall).

Milford Mill's Reggie White, the 2022 Baltimore Banner/VSN Football Co-Coach of the Year. (Derek Toney)

Co-Coach of the Year

Reggie White, Milford Mill Academy

The third time was the charm for White and Milford Mill who ended a four-decade championship drought. White is the Baltimore Banner/VSN Football Co-Coach of the Year.

The Baltimore County school won the Class 2A state title, defeating Kent Island at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, completing a 14-0 season. It was Milford Mill’s first state championship since 1987 when it won the Class C title at the University of Maryland.

White was a star two-way linemen on the Millers’ 1987 squad. As a coach, he guided his alma-mater to runner-up spots in 2017 (3A) and 2021 (2A).

With a roster poised for a breakthrough this fall, White said he loosened the reins.

“I don’t want to say I completely gave in to things but I know how I can be…I told myself to get out of the way, don’t micromanage the coaches,” said White. “We got great leaders on the field like Rashad Herring and Daysen Shell.”

After steamrolling through the regular season, White challenged his squad in the postseason.

“I wanted to see the resilience,” said White, whose team outscored opponents, 428-55, in the regular season. “Weeks two thru 11 my starters didn’t play in the second half, and I was concerned.”

Milford Mill faced its first deficit in the 2A state quarterfinals against Frederick County’s Walkersville. Trailing 7-6 at halftime, the Millers used a pair of touchdowns from senior running back Sean Williams for a 20-7 victory.

In the state semifinals, Milford Mill trailed Stephen Decatur, 25-16, in the second half before junior quarterback Dashawn Purdie’s 8-yard touchdown run with 38 seconds left in regulation lifted it to a 40-33 victory.

After two Miller turnovers helped Kent Island to a 10-7 halftime advantage in the state final, Milford Mill answered again in the final 24 minutes, combining a rushing and passing touchdown from Purdie along with a taut defensive effort, capped with Koby Jones’ pick-six for a 25-16 victory.

“We told the starters we haven’t played a whole game all year except Franklin and this might get tough,” said White. “We told them when you run, run a little harder. When you eat, eat a little less. We got to do this.

They heard me. They did it. We didn’t give up. We got down, but we didn’t fight each other. We made adjustments.”

It was the crowning achievement for White, one of three coaches to guide Team Maryland to victory over Pennsylvania in the prestigious Big 33 Classic. He played defensive tackle in the NFL for six seasons with San Diego (member of Super Bowl XXIX team) and New England.

For many years, White received memorabilia from fans to sign, thinking he’s the Hall of Fame defensive linemen who died in 2004.

White, the former Milford star who played at North Carolina A&T, started his high school coaching career at Woodlawn (1998-2000). After college assistant stops at Howard (2001) and Norfolk State (2002), White took over the Miller program in 2003.

“I love that school. It’s my alma-mater, my community,” said White, who coached his two sons, Reggie Jr. (Monmouth/CFL’s Montreal Alouette) and Nicholas (Gannon) at Milford. “I bleed green with everything in me…I love these kids.”

White, whose staff includes Greg Trogdon, Byron Jones, Greg Hargis, Robert Jackson, Joe Coates, Mike Peoples, Richard Johnson, Ivan Mitchell, Deonte White, Damon Royster and Marcus Smith, is 172-74 in 20 seasons at Milford Mill.