When North County athletic director Mike Baker set out last year to help choose someone to head the new school's baseball program, he hadthe luxury of selecting between two established coaches.

Both, ironically, would get the nod.

The original choice, former Brooklyn Park coach Dennie DeWitt, resigned last month because of poor health, and Don Usewick has been named his successor.

Usewick, who had been hired as DeWitt's assistant, compiled a 14-38-1 record in three years as coach at Andover.

Last fall, Usewick served as an assistant football coach at North County, where he works as a special education instructor.

Usewick, 32, said he expected to be promoted to North County's head coaching position once DeWitt resigned.

"I know nothing is guaranteed, but I would have been pretty surprised if I wasn't," Usewick said.

Baker said, "When we started the whole procedure of trying to find a baseball coach, Don was right up there. He has a good track record at Andover and we respected his program. And having a person of that caliber working in the building was not only convenient, but it made our decision an easy one."

DeWitt's decision to resign did not come easily, but he said health problems left him with no alternative.

He would not comment further on his condition, other than to say he hoped to return to coaching next year "at some level."

Usewick said he understood the school's initial decision to go with DeWitt, who brought16 years of coaching experience from Brooklyn Park. He said he was content to serve as an assistant coach this spring.

"When you have two quality people, you go with the one who has more experience, and I'm sure that's what they did. I was looking forward to working with him this year," Usewick said.

The Annapolis resident is faced withthe challenge of going from a 2A school to one of 4A status.

"We had a preliminary meeting and over 70 kids showed up, which is a lot more than I ever had. The more the merrier," he said.

"Like I toldthe kids, there are going to be some quality cuts, unfortunately, but the competition is going to make us a lot better."

The Knights open the season March 21 at home against Lansdowne of Baltimore County.

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