McDonogh's football camp may look familiar Coach adds his touch to what his father did


Mike Working is coaching football at McDonogh much the way his father, Dick, did in the 1950s, '60s and '70s -- but with a few new twists.

Most high school players will rarely hear their coach describe practice as "10 days of fun that you can't beat for the money -- it's free" without a touch of sarcasm mixed in.

But when the Eagles' second-year coach says that, he means it.

For the past eight days, prospective members of McDonogh's team have been staying in campus dorm rooms, eating four times a day and going through two-a-day practices. This was a regular part of his father's regimen.

"I think this is a great idea," said Bobby Sablehaus, the Eagles' 6-foot-6, 210-pound sophomore quarterback, at Wednesday's first practice.

"It's a way to bring you a lot closer to your teammates. And most of us are really good friends. When I get nervous about a play or something, we can just talk about it."

"There's a lot of team unity here. You look around here and you can just feel the intensity," said senior linebacker Tim Yeager, 17, a 5-10, 190-pound player. "When we sit around at night, talking in the dorms, there's a general feeling that we're going to win more this year. And you can just tell by the way every individual works on every single play."

The camp has a lighter atmosphere under the younger Working. The boys have swim sessions between practices as well as nightly football-oriented movies and pep talks.

"Tonight, it's the Detroit Lions and the NFL crunch course," said Working, 44, who has coached for 18 years. His resume includes the Detroit Lions, West Point, West Virginia and Wake Forest.

"Monday night's going to be the most fun, I think," said Working, who re-instituted the on-campus camp last year. "That's when every class has to come up with a skit and every one of the coaches has to be imitated."

But the Eagles took Wednesday's practice seriously.

Working watched from behind mirrored sun glasses as his seven-member coaching staff took the Eagles through a grueling session. The staff includes Lynn Badham, head coach at Northwestern last year.

Badham and Rob Smoot worked the slotbacks and the defensive secondary, Darren Ford took the defensive line, and Jake Reid had the defensive ends. At a far end of the field, Rob Rice drilled the quarterbacks and running backs, Marty McKibbin tested the wide receivers and Greg Baldwin ran the offensive line.

"Of the eight returning starters we have from last year, most of them were two-way players," said Working. "We've been demanding a lot of everyone here, but I'm very pleased with their work ethic so far."

Aided by a gentle breeze, a punt from Axel Schwarz floated 30 or so yards into the hands of Dwayne Stukes, McDonogh's honorable mention All-Metro running back.

He tucked the ball under his right arm and raced 20 of the practice field's 50 yards down the right side before he was tackled.

Although the offense had satisfied the purpose of the drill -- making the transition to defense and stopping the returner -- Stukes, son of former Baltimore Colts cornerback Charlie Stukes, had done better.

Against Gilman, which ranked 17th in the final Balimore Sun poll, Stukes scored a touchdown and nearly returned a punt for another score.

"Hopefully, people will know me because of how I play, not just because of my father," said Stukes, 5-11, 163, the Eagles' top receiver last year with 32 catches for 767 yards and six touchdowns.

Stukes, with four interceptions, ranked second to senior free safety Robbie Allen, a 5-10, 160-pound player who grabbed six.

Like the majority of the Eagles, Stukes, a sophomore, is young, talented and enthusiastic.

Stukes and Sablehaus are two reasons Working has high hopes of improving on last year's 2-8 Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference record.

Three more reasons are Allen, Yeager and fellow senior linebacker Andrew Osborne (5-11, 180). Clint Fukes (6-1, 190), a junior offensive guard, and junior wide receiver Jeremy Sieple (5-10, 160) are also causes for optimism.

"We know we have a ways to go to catch the rest of the A Conference, but we had a very good freshman class last year, which allows us to be a little more specific and detailed in this year's practices," said Working.

He called Sablehaus "the heart and soul" of Baldwin's 5-4 junior varsity squad, which was competitive in the A Conference for the first time.

Working, who hopes to carry a 30-player varsity, said, "He's a big-league player and should be highly recruited."

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