All eyes were focused on Dunbar senior Tavon Austin as he entered the 2008 season a mere 589 yards away from breaking Maryland's all-time rushing record.
Had it not been for Austin, the attention might have gone to fellow Baltimore City running back Terrance West, a senior at Northwestern-Baltimore who also had the state record in sight.
Of course, Austin put the mark well out of reach in what could be considered the "Year of the Broken Record."
Thanks largely to Austin and Arundel quarterback-receiver combo Billy Cosh and Alec Lemon, no fewer than 13 individual state records fell during the 2008 campaign.
Only four years ago, a senior at St. John's Prospect Hall (now St. John's Catholic Prep) named Keith Ricca posted passing numbers thought to be untouchable. Then came Arundel's Nick Elko in 2007 to push a few of the records. This year, Cosh (who followed Elko at Arundel) shattered a majority of the marks.
Cosh completed 292 of 448 passes for 3,913 yards and 56 touchdowns. All four numbers are state records, three of them bettering Ricca's marks of 3,591 passing yards, 45 touchdowns and 431 attempts; and one topping Elko's 260 completions. Cosh also set single-game records of 39 completions and 64 attempts and set a public school record for most yards in a game with 471 in Arundel's season-ending state semifinal loss to Linganore.
In what was a fantastic year for quarterbacks, another signal-caller broke the public school record for most passing yards in a game before Cosh.
Wootton's Mike Mooney threw for 448 yards in a 36-7 win over Blair. Mooney completed 26 of 43 passes for three touchdowns in the win.
Meanwhile, Lemon hauled in a record-tying 103 catches for public school records of 1,616 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Austin broke the previous state record of 5,920 career rushing yards set by Snow Hill's Ben Tate (currently at Auburn) by midseason, and proceeded to become the first running back in Maryland history to top 6,000 and then 7,000 yards. He is credited with 7,460 rushing yards, but that number remains unconfirmed. It could be as much as 200 yards higher. Regardless, Austin also set records for career touchdowns (123), points (790) and total offensive yards (9,258).
Across town in Baltimore, West posted his second straight 2,000-yard rushing season and finished with 5,989 career yards, which ranks No.2 on the all-time list.
Heading down Interstate 70 towards Montgomery County and Damascus, a little-known record also fell.
Senior kicker Marc Magas broke the state's record for most extra points made in a career. The senior broke the record of 142 set by former Hereford kicker Jon Dinkins (2003). Magas ended his Damascus career with 167 career extra points.
Following is an overall list of Maryland's state records that fell in 2008:
· Playoff Appearances: 24, Seneca Valley*
· Playoff Wins: 41, Seneca Valley*
· Longest Rivalry (Games): 119, City College vs. Polytechnic*
· Longest Rivalry (Consecutive Years): 106, City College vs. Polytechnic*
· Most Passing Yards, Season: 4,022, Arundel
· Most Passes Attempted, Season: 480, Arundel
· Most Passes Attempted, Game: 64, Arundel
· Most Passes Complete, Season: 309, Arundel
· Most Passes Complete, Game: 39, Arundel
· Most Points Scored, Career: 790, Tavon Austin, Dunbar
· Most Touchdowns Scored, Career: 123, Tavon Austin, Dunbar
· Most Kicking Points, Season: 92, Alex Eckard, Linganore
· Most Total Offensive Yards, Career: 9,258, Tavon Austin, Dunbar
· Most Total Offensive Yards, Season: 4,074, Billy Cosh, Arundel
· Most Rushing Yards, Career: 7,460, Tavon Austin, Dunbar
· Most Passing Yards, Season: 3,913, Billy Cosh, Arundel
· Most Pass Attempts, Season: 448, Billy Cosh, Arundel
· Most Pass Attempts, Game: 64, Billy Cosh, Arundel vs. Linganore, Nov. 28, 2008
· Most Pass Completions, Season: 292, Billy Cosh, Arundel
· Most Pass Completions, Game: 39, Billy Cosh, Arundel
· Most Touchdown Passes, Season: 56, Billy Cosh, Arundel
· Most Receptions, Season: 103, Alec Lemon, Arundel (tied record)
Additional Public School Records
· Most Receiving Yards, Season: 1,616, Alec Lemon, Arundel
· Most Receiving Touchdowns: 23, Alec Lemon, Arundel
*-indicates an update to the previous record already held by the same school(s).
Sheldon Shealer covers high schools sports for ESPNRISE.com.