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Towson-area prep football previews

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With two-time defending Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference champ Gilman and runner-up Calvert Hall having already opened the season, it's time for their local rivals to take their first snaps of what promises to be another exciting campaign on the gridiron.

Yet there are question marks for most squads in their attempt to reach the top.

St. Paul's, coming off a MIAA B Conference title run, will try its best to hold off archrival Boys' Latin while Towson, Lutheran, Friends, Loyola Blakefield, Dulaney and Loch Raven look to rise above .500 in their respective leagues.

Listed below are the top prospects for your favorite team:

BOYS' LATIN

2012 record: 5-5

First game: Aug. 30 at Kenwood, 4 p.m.

Returning offensive starters: 4

Returning defensive starters: 8

Fast fact: Ritchie Schell is the second longest tenured coach in the MIAA B Conference behind Archbishop Curley's Sean Murphy and enters his 13th season with a 76-47 record and three championship game berths.

Outlook: Boys' Latin should field one of the league's best defenses again.

Schell has his concerns about the team, but this unit isn't one of them.

"We are fast and much tougher than we have been in the past," the coach said. "We go two-deep at the linebacker position. We are very athletic in the secondary."

It might be difficult to find a better group of linebackers in the conference with seniors Gavin Howell (6-1, 215) and Jake Merrill (6-2, 210) and junior Preston Waters (6-1, 205).

Senior safeties Nick Gesualdi (6-1, 180) and Pat McManus (5-7, 160) and junior cornerback Rocco Bruno (5-10, 180) give the secondary plenty of experience.

Juniors Stephon Hill (5-11, 175) and Anthony Wyler (5-9, 170) are competing for time at cornerback.

Junior Dimitri Lezcano (6-0, 230) and senior Parker Hawkins (5-10, 240) highlight the line in the 4-4 defense.

The offensive spark starts with senior quarterback Frederick Bopst (6-2, 192).

Bopst, a returning starter, is one of the most talented signal callers Schell has coached.

"He's smart with a Division I arm and he's accurate," Schell said. "He's getting recruited by a lot of different schools."

Schell wants more consistent play from his offensive line, which is anchored by senior tackle Matt Bennett (5-10, 210) and junior center Nick Morton (5-11, 230).

"For our offense to be good, our offensive line has to improve," Schell said. "I think we are up to the task. We weren't very good last year."

Senior running back Michael Whitehurst (6-0, 180) has emerged as the primary ball carrier.

Gesualdi, a three-year starter at wide receiver, figures to be Bopst's favorite target.

"He is very fast and runs wonderful routes," Schell said. "He is a phenomenal athlete. Everything he does is top-notch."

Schell has a lot of confidence in sophomore punter/placekicker Dominic Maggio (6-0, 135).

"He will be a Division I kicker," Schell said.

DULANEY

2012 record: 3-7

First game: Sept. 6 at Dundalk, 7 p.m.

Offensive starters returning: 4

Defensive starters returning: 4

Fast fact: New coach Daron Reid worked the past nine years as defensive coordinator at Franklin High.

Outlook: The eyes of Dulaney supporters will be on Reid.

Can he get the Lions headed in a positive direction after a string of losing seasons?

Dulaney has only won nine games since the 2004 campaign, but Reid thinks he has a legitimate chance to turn the team into a winner.

He will be relying on a lot of young players, though.

"I don't think Dulaney has had an many athletes as we have now," said Reid, who replaces Chris Fallon. "The JV last year had a good year and went 8-1. A lot of those guys (14 out of 30) are coming up. We want to change the culture of what Dulaney football is."

Junior Garry Bernardez (5-10, 175) steps into the starting role at quarterback after playing on the JV last year.

Reid says Bernardez is the perfect fit to lead the read-option offense.

"He is very athletic and disciplined," Reid explained. "He has a solid arm and has the height and weight to take the hits running our offense."

Senior tackle Charlie Buonaignore (5-11, 215) and junior tackle Blake Thompson (6-1, 240) return to anchor a strong, physical offensive line.

Junior tackle Quinn Conroy (6-5, 280) and junior guards Thomas Pettinelli (5-9, 205) and Andy Wall (5-7, 190) are other candidates to start.

Reid hopes one of his running backs, senior Stephon Smith (5-10, 160) and juniors Raynard McCamie (5-5, 150) and Nick Koger (5-5, 160), emerge as a big-play threat.

Three wide receivers — senior Imani Anderson (5-8, 150), sophomore Javon Smith (5-7, 140) and freshman Kenard Lee (5-7, 145) — should help boost the passing attack.

Senior tight end Richard McBryde (5-10, 180) is another pass-catching option.

Reid has a lot of holes to fill on defense. Cornerback Anderson, linebacker Sless, safety Smith and tackle Buonaignore are the only returning starters on that side of the ball.

Sophomore Javon Childs (5-8, 230) and juniors Harris Lipinski (5-9, 165) and Brandon Wheeler (6-2, 170) are also key figures along the line.

Smith and Lee provide depth at cornerback.

FRIENDS

2012 record: 3-6

First game: Sept. 6 at MATHS, 4 p.m.

Offensive starters returning: 3

Defensive starters returning: 3

Fast fact: New coach Rocco Bruno piloted Chesapeake High to a regional title in 2011.

Outlook: There's a new sherrif in town for the Quakers, and he aims to make the program more competitive.

Beginning with a summer lifting program, Bruno, who takes over for Chuck Saine, is on a mission is to bring a football mindset to the school.

He's also bringing with him an old-school, single-wing offense, the formation that dominated college football in the 1930s and 1940s before springing up again in the late 2000s in the NFL as the "Wildcat."

In the scheme, a variety of backs are available to take direct snaps from center. Included in the mix will be juniors John Herzog (6-2, 175) and Christian Spence (5-8, 170), sophomore J.D. Rogers (5-9, 170) and freshman Nick D'Mario (6-2, 178).

They will run behind senior blocking back Charlie Emrich (6-3, 275), junior ends John McGagh (5-9, 170) and Chris Shepherd (6-0, 170), guards Kenyatta Bragg (junior, 5-7, 220) and Jeffrey Gonya (freshman, 5-11, 180), sophomore center Sam Todd (5-7, 180) and tackles Gabe Williams (junior, 5-7, 160) and Ethan Sigman (sophomore, 5-8, 150).

"We only have 20 plays," Bruno said about the system implemented by offensive coordinator John Botneck.

His defensive counterpart, Joe Reinhardte, will use most of the same performers.

Meanwhile, both units will sport University of Michigan-style helmets, in a Quaker red version instead of the Wolverines' maize and blue.

Bruno hopes the new offense and helmets mark a significant turnaround for a program that has not won more than three games a season in recent memory.

LOCH RAVEN

2012 record: 5-5

First game: Sept. 6 vs. Western Tech, 7 p.m.

Offensive starters returning: 6

Defensive starters returning: 4

Fast fact: The Raiders posted their best record last year since the 2005 season after going 4-26 from 2009 to 2011.

Outlook: Making the Class 2A playoffs is no longer a long shot for Loch Raven.

The Raiders remained in the mix until late in the 2012 season.

"The kids believe we are headed in the right direction," said Ryan Heaney, who became the program's third coach in three seasons last year. "Another year of being in the weight room, being around each other and having the same coaching staff gives us a lot of confidence going into the season. The kids are energetic and enthusiastic. We have momentum."

Heaney's biggest problem last year on offense was finding consistency at quarterback.

Adam Boudouris started the season, then Heaney turned to R.J. Chasen, then to Marques Logan.

Logan (5-9, 175) looked solid for the final five games running the multiple-I offense.

"Logan really took command of the offense and demanded the guys play at a higher level in terms of bringing energy and more fire to that side of the ball," Heaney said of the senior.

Leadership is clearly Logan's biggest asset.

"He is like another coach on the field," Heaney said. "He knows what everybody is suppose to be doing on every play and if he sees something he doesn't like, he is not afraid to speak up."

Heaney is anxious to see what sophomores Marchael Gunn (5-7, 165) and Duan Jones (5-8, 160) can do carrying the ball at the varsity level.

Jones suited up on the JV last year while Gunn played for the Overlea rec program.

The backs will work behind a line spearhead by senior tackle Jalil Anderson (6-1, 250), senior guard Bobby Lease (6-0, 195) and junior center Mark Dragon (6-1, 235).

Two returning starters — senior tight end Chasen (6-1, 190) and junior fullback Derek Halford (6-0, 195) — also hope to be key offensive contributors.

Loch Raven's 4-4 defense has great speed and returns starters Logan at safety, Halford at linebacker, Lease on the line and Chasen at safety.

Junior cornerbacks Keon Carter (6-0, 170), Dominic Manns (5-8, 155), Danny D'amicco (5-8, 155), Edward Countryman (6-0, 155), junior end Noah Johnston (6-1, 185) and junior tackle Dominic Tou (6-4, 265), a transfer from Archbishop Curley, are vying for starting spots.

LOYOLA BLAKEFIELD

2012 record: 5-6

First game: Aug. 30 vs. St. Paul's, 4 p.m.

Offensive starters returning: 4

Defensive starters returning: 6

Fast fact: Coach Brant Hall never lost to archrival Calvert Hall when he quarterbacked the Dons from 1995-97 against the Cardinals.

Outlook: Lack of depth could be a factor for the Dons in the rugged MIAA A Conference.

That said, if their more experienced players can remain healthy, the Dons could be a force in the conference.

Junior quarterback Ben Evans (6-1, 205) will run the show, handing off to senior running back Kyle Saunders (5-9, 190) and junior Damon Hazelton (6-1, 185) and working behind senior linemen Jack Kenney (6-4, 240) and Andrew Will (6-5, 255) and junior counterparts Tyler Covey (6-0, 265) and Austin Hurdle (5-11, 255).

Evans will also have plenty of receiving targets in seniors Mike Meurer (6-2, 190), Alex Issac (6-0, 175) and Trevor Janoskie (5-10, 180) and junior Will D'Angelo (6-0, 165).

The defensive line will be anchored by Kenney and classmates Grayson Boozer (6-4, 190) Matt Gillespie (6-2, 240) and Tyley Covey (6-2, 270) while seniors Connor Moran (6-3, 210) and Jack Hurley (6-0, 185) join junior Ryan Gallagher (5-11, 225) to man the linebacker corps.

"We have the potential to do some really good things," Hall said. "But we have to stay healthy to do that. We just need to see which guys are going to step up to be leaders."

LUTHERAN

2012 record: 2-6

First game: Sept. 6 vs. Central Maryland Christian, 4 p.m.

Offensive starters returning: 6

Defensive starters: 6

Fast fact: Lutheran graduate and junior Jay Davis is playing football at Brown University as a defensive back.

Outlook: Saints' second-year coach Jeramiah Bowling figures if his team plays decently and continues to improve, IT will be primed for a surge.

"I think we are a better disciplined team, and we have a lot of excitement going into the season," said Bowling, whose team competes in the MIAA C Conference. "The kids really took the initiative to work. We had the best offseason lifting weights we ever had."

Senior quarterback Tyler Woolsey (5-11, 200) enters his second season as a starter and he's a good fit running the spread offense.

"He's very smart, has a great arm and is pretty accurate," Bowling said.

Lutheran has a lot of pass-catching talent returning.

Seniors Zakk Davis (6-2, 165), Jay Lawson (5-10, 160), Jon Schildwachter (6-0, 170,) and Derrick McKnight (5-10, 145) are all back.

"It's rare you get the quarterback and all the receivers back in high school," Bowling said. "They are a pretty versatile group. They are fast, can block and catch over the middle.

The Saints have the chance to impose their will on the offensive line, which features All-Conference pick and senior Charlie Dyjak (6-2, 190), his twin brother Luke (6-2, 190) and Nick Weinel (6-2, 190).

Senior linebackers Marquise King (5-9, 170) and Dillion Taylor (5-8, 160), safety Davis, linebacker Lawson and cornerback McKnight will lead the 4-4 defense.

Davis set a school record with five interceptions last year.

"He is like an Ed Reed-type," Bowling said. "He is in the right place at the right time."

ST. PAUL'S

2012 record: 11-0

First game: Aug. 30 at Loyola, 4 p.m.

Offensive starters returning: 7

Defensive starters returning: 6

Fast fact: The Crusaders overcame a 17-0 deficit to edge John Carroll, 28-27, last November to capture their first MIAA B Conference title in seven years.

Outlook: Although there are some holes to fill after so many top players graduated from last year's undefeated championship team, there's still enough talent for coach Paul Bernstorf to mold into a winner.

Starting with junior quarterback Anthony Pino (5-10, 170) and senior running back Kaylon Johnson (5-11, 175) and Hunter Pearl (5-11, 200), the Crusaders have some big guns to maneuver on offense behind senior linemen Roger Boyce (6-2, 215) and Connor Keenan (6-2, 220) and junior counterparts Garrett Mullin (6-2, 270) and Zach Kobokovich (5-11, 225).

Pino won't lack for passing targets, given that senior newcomer Mikey Wynne (5-11, 170) and juniors Alan Quickley (6-0, 175) and Jack Pollard (6-0, 190) will be available.

Keenan, Mullin, Pollard and Boyce will man the defensive line with seniors Keifer Rawlings (5-10, 200) and Hank Ford (5-11, 180 joining Pearl on the linebacking unit.

Defensive backs include seniors D. J. Johnson (6-0, 170), Tre Hamer (6-0, 175), Quickley and sophomore Tyler Rockhill (5-11, 170).

"Two years ago, we had a great season going and then we had a lot of injuries and couldn't finish it off," Bernstorf said. "Last year that kind of happened to BL and (Archbishop) Curley, so you never know. The B Conference is a great league and anybody can win it if they stay healthy."

TOWSON

2012 record: 1-9

First game: Sept. 6 at Sparrows Point, 7 p.m.

Offensive starters returning: 3

Defensive starters returning: 3

Fast fact: Towson juniors Brandon Womack, Nicholas Regalbuto and Ronje Wright were listed on the Big 33 Prospect Watch List for the Big 33 Football Classic that features players from Maryland against those from Pennsylvania.

Outlook: "We are young, but they have a lot of energy and they are working hard," coach Chad Knippenberg said.

Running back Womack (5-9, 185), who was promoted from junior varsity last season, dedicated himself over the summer and has emerged as the top running back.

He'll be joined by classmate Kenny Young (6-1, 180) and senior fullback Brandon Straughter (5-10, 230).

The quarterback battle features junior Tyler Carr (6-3, 175), sophomore Darren Cockerill (6-0, 165) and freshman Trent McNairy (5-11, 165).

Their top targets are senior tight end Davey Thomas (6-2, 180) and junior wideout Wright (6-3, 180).

The offensive line includes a slew of candidates, led by seniors Drew Williams (6-2, 210), Peter DeGurman (6-0, 200) and PJ Lenhart (5-9, 200) and juniors Regalbuto (5-10, 240), Nick O'Dwyer (6-0, 220), Naz Donowa (5-10, 275) and Charles Ashby (6-2, 315).

Thomas and Williams also play defensive end, while Regalbuto and Donowa fill the gaps in the interior line.

Womack and senior Tyron Phillips (6-0, 165) are the outside linebackers and Straughter mans the middle.

Defensive backs include senior Robert Jones (6-0, 160) and juniors Simeon Hickey (5-10, 155) and Kyle Goodbee (6-0, 165), with Young and Womack patrolling at the safety slots.

Andrew Cianos (5-8, 130) and Abdel Sindjui (6-0, 175) handle the kicking duties and Jones is the punter.

Second-year coach Knippenberg feels a positive vibe around the team during the preseason.

"They have a great attitude and they committed themselves to the weight room in the offseason," Knippenberg said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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