The Edgewood High School football team already held a 7-0 lead by the time its offense took the field for the first time against C. Milton Wright during the fourth week of the season in September. The Rams had scored a defensive touchdown, then stopped the Mustangs again and started that opening possession at their own 41-yard line.
The first play was a simple one. Senior quarterback Antwain Banks made a quick toss to the right to fellow senior Deonte Banks, who smoothly picked up a few blocks around the corner and broke free for a 59-yard touchdown run.
Just like that.
The second play Edgewood ran that night was also rather simple. The Mustangs punted again, and the Rams took over at their own 21. Antwain took the snap and glided to his left. He picked up a few blocks, quickly got around the end and was gone -- 79 yards for a touchdown.
Just like that.
That's how Edgewood's 47-0 rout of C. Milton Wright got started. And yes, the two players who share the same last name are related. They're cousins, but they sure are a lot like brothers because of how close they are and how much they love playing football together.
"It's a lot of fun," Antwain said. "We have a lot of chemistry. We've played [football] with each other all our lives, since we were 6."
They're cousins because their mothers are sisters. When asked if they are best friends, Deonte just laughed.
"We're as close as possible," he said. "We're like brothers. Honestly, we have the same work ethic. We do everything together."
They've also got similar talents, especially the blazing speed. During the game against C. Milton Wright, Antwain ran for 201 yards and four touchdowns while Deonte totaled 131 yards and a touchdown. Overall, through the first five games, during which Edgewood posted a 4-1 record, Antwain scored 14 touchdowns rushing and passed for three more. Deonte ran for nine touchdowns.
Both will also likely play in college. Deonte has already committed to Maryland as a cornerback. Antwain is interested in Delaware State of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, probably to play slot receiver or cornerback.
Deonte already plays defensive back for the Rams, and it's easy to picture him at that position in College Park, Md., thanks to his speed, quickness and athletic ability.
"He's confident; without a doubt, he knows that he's the best player on the team," Edgewood head coach Charles Johnson said. "It's hard to tackle him, and it's hard to catch a ball over him. We really don't have to teach him much because he's just that good."
Johnson has similar words of praise for Antwain and his skills.
"He's willing to learn, and he takes criticism real well," Johnson said. "He's very unselfish and sometimes we've got to tell him [that] we want you to take control."
Johnson said there's no question in his mind both can find success in college. He said Deonte should do well as a corner at Maryland, and Antwain could do damage as a slot receiver wherever he ends up.
"Trying to catch [Antwain] in the open field is just about impossible," Johnson said. "It's really just mind-boggling."
The C. Milton Wright defense probably agrees with that after what happened on a late first-half play during the Mustangs' game against the Rams. Edgewood was facing second-and-6 from the Mustangs' 34-yard line when Antwain dropped back to pass.
The pocket began to collapse, and the quarterback quickly found himself in big trouble. Antwain eluded several pairs of hands reaching for him and somehow made his way into some open space, at which point he began running downfield.
He cut to the left and right, moved between some Mustangs tacklers and ran into the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown to give Edgewood a 27-0 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. That play broke the game open.
The Banks cousins also are looking to take care of some unfinished business from last year. Edgewood went 8-4 last season and scored a stunning upset against Franklin in the Class 3A North Regional quarterfinals. The game was played at Franklin, and the Rams came away with a 20-8 victory to earn a shot at Milford Mill in the region semifinal a week later.
But Edgewood got a bad break late in the win against Franklin. Antwain scored two touchdowns during that contest but hurt his knee on the final play. He was ruled out of the game against Milford Mill, which probably contributed to the Rams' 33-14 loss.
That loss gave Edgewood plenty of inspiration for 2018, with Antwain and Deonte leading the way.
"Those two were leaders last year, and it just carried right on over to this year," Johnson said. "Those kids have always been leaders. All the kids like them. Having them back this year is just a godsend."
Antwain and Deonte began playing together in the Parkside youth football program in Baltimore at the age of 6. Deonte was a running back and a defensive end, and he said his cousin played running back and cornerback.
Each one loves having the other on the field with him. They, at times, seem to have a sixth sense about what the other is up to on the field during the game.
"I like everything about playing with him," Antwain said. "It's fun. [We know] where we're going to be at, know what we're going to do. We know everything about each other."
Said Deonte: "Anything I can do, he can do. Any time I feel pressure, I can talk to him. We trust each other."
Just like best friends and cousins do.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Edgewood High School
Issue 248: October 2018
Originally published Oct. 15, 2018