Armed with new goals, Sprague expects Green Terrors back in winning form

Be glad you're not a Western Maryland College football player this week.

The Green Terrors suffered their first loss of the season at Randolph-Macon last weekend, and coach Dale Sprague does not try to disguise either his disappointment or his determination to have his team work its way back to winning form.


"We got flat-out outplayed, and we got what we deserved at Randolph-Macon," says Sprague of the 48-30 loss. "Our kids bellyached and moaned all last week in practice and it showed in the game on Saturday.

"This week we play Dickinson. They're undefeated [5-0]. They're the class of our league [Centennial Conference], and I know they work hard in practice.


"You're going to hear a lot of noise up here this week when we're on the practice field and it won't be the cooing of a dove. It'll be a lot of thumps and bumps. I'm either going to bring this football team back to where it was or I'm going to kill myself doing it."

A week ago, Sprague thought his Terrors and Dickinson were on a collision course with possible conference championship implications. But Dickinson, the defending champion, shut out coach Tom Gilburg's Franklin & Marshall team, 24-0, Saturday while Western Maryland fell from the unbeaten ranks.

That killed talk of Western Maryland's first undefeated season since 1951. It also gave the Terrors realistic goals.

"We're still a pretty good football team," says Sprague, "and what we're shooting for is a winning season."

People forget that Sprague, who came to Westminster in 1986, has rescued a program that was at the bottom. It took Sprague bTC five years to have a winning season -- and that was the only one the school has had in the past decade.

* Western Maryland has been looking for a lacrosse coach to succeed Mike Williams, who was part-time, and the field of applicants was strong.

Said Johns Hopkins coach Tony Seaman: "There was a better field of applicants for the Western Maryland job than there was for Brown this summer."

Brown, a Division I playoff team, promoted assistant Pete Lasagna to the job.


The winner in the race for the Green Terrors job is Keith Reitenbach, a former Cornell player (Class of '78) who has been on Richie Moran's staff in Ithaca for the last seven years.

"Keith will bring a lot of new ideas to Western Maryland," says Moran. "Here at Cornell, my assistant coaches work on both offense and defense. We don't have coordinators. Keith has also coached at North Carolina and Washington College. I think he'll be able to establish a strong Division III program at Western Maryland."

Carol Fritz, acting athletic director at Western Maryland, says the school's aim is "to be competitive" in the Centennial Conference, which includes Washington College, Franklin & Marshall, and Gettysburg.

* Coach Gordy Combs, whose 2-3 Towson State team has won twice as many games as the Tigers won a year ago, will take his team to William & Mary Saturday. It's the first meeting between the two schools.

William & Mary is 5-0, ranked No. 10 in Division I-AA and fresh off a 21-19 win over Penn.

Despite all that, Combs likes Towson's chances in this one.


"We're healthy at midseason," says the Tigers first-year coach. "That's a big plus. This will be William & Mary's homecoming -- but we'll get them the week before they play Virginia.

"We're disappointed with our loss to Delaware State [27-13], but our team is playing hard. That means a lot to me.

"I've always been a Gary Williams fan because no matter where he coached -- Boston College, Ohio State, Maryland -- and no matter what kind of talent he's had, his teams have always played hard. I'd like to get the same kind of response from our players. If you play hard, good things can happen."

* Some coaches can coach anything -- after a brief learning period, of course. Gilman's John Tucker is one of those.

Tucker is widely acknowledged as one of the best lacrosse players in the world. At Gilman, he is building a strong lacrosse foundation with underclassmen.

But Tucker also coaches soccer at Gilman, and when he took over last year, he knew nothing about the sport. He had never played or coached it. His team didn't win a game (0-14).


This fall, Tucker's team has won six games (and lost three and tied one). Its victims have been St. Mary's, McDonogh, St. Paul's, Friends, Boys' Latin and Loyola. Tucker and his booters have come a long way in one year.