Depth hinders playoff veteran South River


OK, so South River lost All-County performers Chris Messineo, Edmund Hicks, Joe Messenese, Kevin Ferguson and Trevor Perkins to graduation.

And, it also said goodbye to 12 other seniors on a 9-2 state playoff team that ranked ninth in the Baltimore metropolitan area at the end of the regular season.

Remember, we're talking about South River here. A winning tradition of solid defense and hard-nosed runners. A team that's gone 22-9 in the past three years.

But fourth-year head coach Dave Summey can't afford to relish the Seahawks' past fortunes, because he and his staff are busy trying to put together another solid ballclub with just six returning seniors.

"Depth is our main concern right now," said Summey. "We're very, very shallow at every position. If we get a couple of kids hurt, we just don't have the depth. And that's due to only having six seniors and a lot of first-year juniors on the varsity."

The Seahawks must overcome their lack of experience in a hurry when they face defending 3A state champion Linganore (12-1), which handed South River its lone defeat (14-7) during the 1991 regular season, on Sept. 18.

Other out-of-county foes include Baltimore County's Perry Hall (7-3 last year) and Randallstown (5-5), Bladensburg of Prince George's County and Lackey of Charles County.

Tough county opposition will come in the form of St. Mary's (7-3 last year) and Broadneck, which will visit Edgewater in this Friday's opener for what has become an intense early-season rivalry.

"I think some of the teams we played last year are like we are this year, young, and maybe one year away. But of course, if you go 9-1 like we did last year, those same people are going to be gunning for you the next time around," said Summey.

"That's something that we have no control over but we're just going to have to play the best we can against the competition."

On offense, the Seahawks will return senior track man Jason Fullmer, a lanky 6-foot-6 split end, along with classmates Jaron Hairston (running back), tackles Carl Baranek and Jimmy Barnard, and starting quarterback candidates Greg Avery and Richard Bembe. Junior Craig Hopkins returns to assist Hairston with the ball-carrying chores.

Defensively, these seven figure to play an equally important role. Barnard and Baranek will line up at the tackles. Fullmer, Bembe, Avery and Hopkins will share time at defensive back, and Harrison fills in at linebacker.

Richie Singleton and Joe Renoe, two first-year seniors, will be tested at the defensive end slots, and they'll be pushed by incoming junior Will Sadler.

Other members of the linebacking corps are junior Mike Sheehan and sophomore Andy Meyers, who also will see time on the offensive line at center and guard, respectively.

Summey said, "Seniors like Fullmer, Avery, Hairston and Baranek -- the kids from '91 -- are going to have to lead our team in order to be successful.

These are the guys who know what it takes to be winners.

"We're untested, but we have team unity. We've been working hard in practice, and our work habits have been excellent so far," he added.

"We had an undefeated JV team last year, so we have some talented kids, but there's a big jump between the JV and varsity levels. We're just going to have to keep working hard and try to get better every day."

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad