Schools such as Villanova, Fordham and Bucknell are eyeing Baldwin for defense, and he routinely slaps together highlight tapes to keep them abreast of his progress. The newest one, however, might focus on offense.
Baldwin made four catches for 53 yards. Though he notched no touchdowns, he did make three of his four snags in scoring drives and his production was especially important in the second half because the Bears had to proceed without their top pass-catcher, junior wideout Delane Hart.
Hey, while we're thinking of it, how did Baldwin make it all the way to through ninth grade without giving football a whirl?
"I always liked it, and I always pictured myself playing," he said. "But I waited too long to play Pop Warner and my aunt [Jewelana Tillman, with whom he lives] said I had to wait until high school. Then in ninth grade, I was too slow getting in my paperwork for the physical."
At least the kid's a quick learner.
Baldwin made his first boldrelief contribution on defense, as his tackle prevented what could have been a 64-yard TD run by Tyreik Coaxum midway through the first quarter. He added his first catch shortly thereafter, but that drive wound up stalling.
Two minutes into the second stanza, G-town took over at its 20. On the successful 80-yard advancement, a 13-yard catch by Baldwin, on third-and-14, was sandwiched by 23- and 39-yarders for Hart.
The first of his catches enabled Hart to break the school record for receiving yards in a season, owned since only last fall by Myles Brooker (692). Catch No. 2 lifted Hart's total to 740, but it also wound up marking his final appearance. While twisting into the end zone, he took a shot to the shin and could only watch thereafter.
"I knew somebody had to step up," Baldwin said, simply. "They didn't say anything about [targeting him more]. We just played."
Shortly before halftime, Chris Rone blocked a punt to put the Bears in business at Franklin's 15. After two rushes produced zero net yards, Cedric Wright passed to Baldwin and an impressive fight through multiple defenders got the ball to the 1. Wright then burrowed in and the lead was 14-0.
Back-to-back touches - Amir Crippen's 45-yard interception return; Coaxum's 48-yard scamper - created a 14-14 tie with 6:27 left in the third quarter.
The winning score was posted 5:47 from game's end on an 8-yard run by soph Ishmael Dargan (13-62). Big play? You got it. Darnell Baldwin. On fourth-and-8 from Germantown's 47, he made a risky decision look brilliant with a 17-yard pickup on a right-side corner.
"Nothing special," Baldwin said. "We drew up a play and ran it. Execution. That's all I can say."
Well, not completely all.
"I liked it," he added, "because it showed they trusted me."
Baldwin enjoyed watching games at 'Nova, Fordham and Bucknell, as well as the interaction with coaches and others. Since then, he has done his homework.
"You get a good education at all three places," he said. "Look at the alumni. They all have successful jobs. Mostly those schools are looking at me for defense. They want the tapes to see how I play downfield; how well I move."
The academics and mindset are no problem.
"It made me proud when the coaches made me a captain," Baldwin said. "It let me know my hard work was paying off. It didn't make me stop, though. If anything, if made me work harder. You can always improve on something. As a captain, you have to show leadership and be accountable when things don't go right for the team."
Referring to this game, he added, "People say they don't have meaning. But I want us to finish strong to set a good example for the kids who'll be returning next season."
Baldwin, who lives near Castor and Levick in the Northeast, attends Lankenau, a special admission school in Upper Roxborough that partners with G-town for sports. He wants to major in some branch of engineering. "Not sure what kind yet," he said.
No sweat. There's time. Three years ago, Darnell Baldwin wasn't even a football player and that has worked out quite well.
In another game:
* Dobbins 26, Lincoln 0: Nigel Faulks notched just two points on a conversion, but his 95 rushing yards (14 carries) led the Mustangs. Diamir Copes scored twice on keepers and Aaron Pinckney had an interception. Lincoln's Devon Thompkins passed 10-for-17 for 143 yards, largely to Khalil Walker (4-51) and Giovanni Johnson (3-56).
George Washington defensive back Al Augustine (Towson) should have been included with the "Off the Board" players in the recruiting list that appeared in Thursday's Daily News.