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Lansdowne football using delayed fall season as learning experience

Lansdowne varsity head football coach Shaun Murphy, seen in this file photo from 2019, took the field last month to begin in-person practices.
Lansdowne varsity head football coach Shaun Murphy, seen in this file photo from 2019, took the field last month to begin in-person practices. (Nicole Munchel for the Baltimore/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Just over a week before the delayed fall football season was supposed to begin, Lansdowne football coach Shaun Murphy spoke about the opportunity for his underclassmen to gain more experience and for his two seniors to get one last chance to play competitive games.

But, on Feb. 25, Mike Sye, coordinator of athletics for Baltimore County Schools, announced that the fall season, which was supposed to begin with county football games on March 5, will be delayed indefinitely.

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“It has to do with the metrics and the CDC guidance, we are currently in code orange,” Sye said. “We will be looking at it weekly and as soon as someone gives me the OK, then we will try and jump back into our schedule.”

Teams have been allowed to continue practicing and every day is a learning experience, but not having games hasn’t diminished the enthusiasm of the Viking players and the coaching staff.

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“My football athletes are still very excited. They were hoping to play their first game this week, but just the sense of normalcy of being back on the playing field with their teammates and coaches has been a great experience for everyone,” Murphy noted. “We keep moving forward hoping for games during this fall mini-season, but even if we do not play any games, we are happy to have the opportunity to have these practices for our seniors to further develop their skills for college, and for our underclassmen to develop their skills for the upcoming fall season.”

Murphy’s original roster includes senior wide receiver/defensive back Michael Burnett and senior running back/wide receiver/defensive back Wayne Woodson.

The roster also includes 11 juniors, 10 sophomores and three freshmen. The Vikings will not have a JV this season.

“The rising juniors, even though there is not a lot expected, they are very excited about it,” Murphy said. “They are stepping up and taking the challenge head on and really showing some great potential on the field.”

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Two of the juniors that have been impressive are Taheed Houston (RB/MLB) and Tyriq Hurt (OLB/WR).

One of the freshmen who played on the Arbutus Golden Eagles team that won the 2019 Carroll County Football League 13U Super Bowl is 6-1, 210-pound lineman, Bryson Brendel.

“We are very excited to have got him, he’s O-line, D-line and just an amazing player,” Murphy said.

While getting on the field for the first time since 2019 has been a blessing, it has come with obstacles.

“We had some kids that have come from being very overweight, to some that came in perfect shape,” Murphy said. “We’ve had a few running backs that might end up on the line and a few wide receivers that might end up in the backfield.”

The Vikings finished 1-8 in 2019 after sporting the best record (6-4) at the school in 16 years in 2018.

“We were going through a little rebuilding process because we were coming off that 6-4 season,” Murphy said.

The 2018 season featured running back Jerald Hurt, who was a freshman at McDaniel College in 2019, and Marcus Sessoms, who was a freshman wide receiver at Keystone College the same year.

Lansdowne's Jerald Hurt gained over 3,200 all-purpose yards for the Vikings and led the squad to a 6-4 record in 2018.
Lansdowne's Jerald Hurt gained over 3,200 all-purpose yards for the Vikings and led the squad to a 6-4 record in 2018. (Brian Krista / Capital Gazette)

Hurt was the Arbutus Times Male Athlete of the Year in 2018 and 2019 and had over 3,200 all-purpose yards at the school.

Meanwhile, Murphy is still trying to get his younger athletes to appreciate the extra time they are getting in the spring.

“I tell these kids all the time, I grew up at [Cardinal] Gibbons playing under Scott Ripley and we would always have spring practice and that was a private school luxury,” Murphy said. “I said, you guys are public school kids, so this is a gift and they are excited about it because a lot of their buddies go to private schools and they hear all about that from them, so they are very excited to have this opportunity.”

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