Four coaches prepare to face challenges with their new teams @


Saying he's blessed with an experienced coaching staff, John Hammond will be happy if he "can get a quality turnout and build trust in the kids" involved in Southwestern's football program.

Warren Como has his hands full over at Class 3A Catonsville, where "the program has been down for the last few years" and he doesn't "know what cards I have on the table yet."

Como and Hammond will start playing their hands when area teams officially open the season with tomorrow's practices. They are among four men -- two each in Baltimore City and Baltimore County -- who are embarking on new coaching challenges.

Dave Dixon assisted Rick Zentz for five years at Class 3A Dundalk. But Dixon takes over tomorrow, with Zentz assuming the head coaching position at Abingdon Heights High in Clark Summit, Pa.

And after a year as an assistant at Northwestern, Paul Shuford replaces Lynn Badham, who enters his first year as an assistant at McDonogh (2-8 last year) after three years at the helm for the Wildcats.

Shuford and Dixon were still on vacation and could not be reached yesterday.

Hammond's coaching career spans 15 years, with stints at Mervo, Patterson, Walbrook and Fallston. He was head coach at Mervo for one season.

"They've [Southwestern] had several different coaches over the years," said Hammond of the Sabres, whose two-year Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference record was 11-7 under Fred Kaiss.

Kaiss, who was an emergency coach, left to become an assistant at Morgan State University.

"I can bring my experience, but hopefully, I can also bring some continuity to the program," Hammond said.

Como's 12 years of coaching experience included three seasons at Woodlawn from 1986 to 1988. He replaces Art Reeves, who retired.

A former All-County and All-Metro pick, Como, 37, led Randallstown to an unbeaten record and a regional title as a running back during his senior year in 1973.

"In three years, our team only lost one game, and Catonsville was always tough to play," said Como, who led Baltimore County in scoring in his final season. "I know that their numbers have been down and so has their program, lately. I'm going in there kind of blind, so I'm not sure what to expect until I see what I've got to work with."

L Dixon, Zentz said, should have ample talent at his disposal.

"Dave's got a very good club coming back," said Zentz, who led the Owls to the 1990 state championship quarterfinals with an 8-3 record before going 5-5 last year.

With the exception of a forfeit victory, Northwestern had been winless over five seasons before Badham arrived to guide the Wildcats to a runner-up finish in the MSA B Conference in his first year.

Badham, who leaves Northwestern with an overall record of 15-11 (4-4 last year), said he "jumped at the chance" to hire Shuford when he applied for the assistant coaching position a year ago.

"He's been around coaching since around 1976. He's very experienced and he's a strict disciplinarian," said Badham, who saw the McDonogh post as an opportunity to coach in the A Conference. "I'd been working at McDonogh for 13 years as a summer camp counselor, so this was my chance. But I'm positive that Paul can continue [winning]."

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