Perry Hall’s Chris Ricker and Parkville’s Danny Wittler play for rival football teams, but they will have something in common when they step on the field for the Ravens high school Quarterback Challenge Thursday night at halftime of the Ravens-Browns game. Both look forward to being center stage in front of that huge M&T Bank Stadium crowd.
“Just being in front of a bunch of people, that sounds like a lot of fun to me,” Ricker, a senior, said.
Wittler, a sophomore in his first year as a starter, agreed.
“I’m looking forward to being on the field and getting some experience with a lot of people watching me. I’m going to need that for college,” he said. “And I’m looking forward to having a good time with my teammates.”
Each quarterback will have two chances to throw the longest pass. While they aim to beat each other, they also aim to beat the best throw so far – 47 yards by Gilman’s Shane Cockerille. The overall winner in eight Quarterback Challenges – one at each Ravens’ home game – will win new Under Armour jerseys for his whole team.
Each quarterback brings a pair of sure-handed receivers with him. Ricker will throw to Eric Latham and Jeremiah Johnson while Wittler will pass to Chris Washington and Otis Pullen.
In matching the quarterbacks for this year’s challenges, the Ravens are pitting natural rivals against each other, including these two from the east side of Baltimore County. Although many of the Perry Hall and Parkville players know each other, Ricker and Wittler do not.
Ricker, whose Gators won 17-26 last year, has more experience in the rivalry and he said it is strong.
“I do not like that team whatsoever,” he said with a laugh.
Wittler said, “It makes it more exciting and more intense when you face your rival, because you know you’re going to face them a couple games later in the season. It’s just a taste of what you’re going to get when you face them.”
The Gators (1-3) and the Knights (3-1) will meet at 1 p.m. on Oct. 6 at Parkville.
Both Ricker and Wittler are primarily passing quarterbacks and each looks up to a prolific NFL passer.
“I just admire his work ethic -- and his size, playing as a 5-11 quarterback in the NFL is remarkable and he gives the short quarterbacks a good name such as Drew Brees and Mike Vick. He has his name in there and he’s doing his thing and I like that.” said the 6-foot Ricker, who threw for a career-best 279 yards against Milford Mill last week.
Wittler, a Ravens fan, admires one of the best ever, Peyton Manning, the former Indianapolis Colt now in Denver.
“I like the way he moves his feet in the pocket and how he’s always ready to hit the guy who’s open and I also have his number (18),” Wittler said.
The winner of this week’s Quarterback Challenge will receive a $500 Under Armour gift certificate for his athletic department and all the players receive autographed Ravens footballs.
The schedule for the rest of the season's Quarterback Challenges:
Sunday, Oct. 10: Severna Park vs. Broadneck
Sunday, Nov. 11: Manchester Valley vs. Century
Sunday, Dec. 2: Allegany vs. Fort Hill
Sunday, Dec. 16: Aberdeen vs. Perryville
Sunday, Dec. 23 Snow Hill vs. Stephen Decatur