Winning at the JV level is not as important as developing players who can step up to the varsity, but when both happen, it can only enhance a school's program.
That has been accomplished in Annapolis, where the Panthers have a combined varsity-JV football record of 19-1. Head coach Roy Brown and JV coaches Tom Newman and Lance Evans really have gotten it together.
Seventh-ranked Annapolis (9-1) won the county Class 4A league and Region IV title and opens in the state playoffs at 7:30 p.m. Friday at home against Friendly (8-2) of Prince George's County. The Panthers were 8-0 in league play, including a 20-19 victory over fifth-ranked North County (9-1).
It's bad news for the rest of the county that Annapolis has only 16 seniors on its 40-man varsity squad and a freshman-dominated JV team that went 10-0. There are 20 juniors and four sophomores on the varsity, with 30 more players, mostly freshmen, on the JV ready to move up.
Evans, who played under county Hall of Famer Al Laramore at Annapolis, and Newman haven't lost a JV football game in two years. They led the South River JV to a 10-0 record last fall and turned the trick this fall at Annapolis.
"The idea is that the kids learn the basics of the program you are supporting," said Newman.
"Winning is an added plus. The varsity is the program, and the JV is the bloodline. You want the players to learn your system so they can contribute to the varsity, and what we did is only an added plus."
Newman, a work coordinator at the Center For Applied Technology-South in Edgewater, heard after last season that Brown had an opening for the JV coaching position. So, he and Evans, who is a plumbing teacher at the Tech Center, applied.
"You know I had been in the 4A program a long time at Glen Burnie, and there is no question that's where the best football is played," said Newman, who started at Glen Burnie as an assistant to the retired Joe Papetti (154-82-3) and wanted to get back into the bigger league.
"I learned the fundamentals under Joe Papetti. I had a great mentor in Joe, who taught me blocking and tackling, and we ran the 52 Oklahoma defensive package back then that we run now at Annapolis."
Newman, who was at St. Mary's for a couple of years after leaving Glen Burnie, has been coaching for about 20 years. Evans started at South River with Newman, and the blend of experience and young enthusiasm has been a perfect match.
The two coaches assembled a powerhouse JV this fall. Along the way to the perfect season, the Panthers scored 224 points while yielding 45 and posted four shutouts, including a season-ending 35-0 romp over archrival Severna Park.
The defensive unit had five shutouts in the 10 games because the offense gave up a touchdown for the only score in one of the games.
"It was a great group who loved to play and work, and I'm not saying they were very enthusiastic because we were 10-0, but this team enjoyed coming to practice," said Newman.
"And I think we have quite a few who will be ready to contribute to the varsity next season."
Some of the top players on this JV juggernaut were quarterback Geoff Mears, running back Jarray Slocum, junior lineman Jeff Tamulevich, defensive back Harold Adams, kicker Travis Scholz, fullbacks Brendt Hager and Troy Hammond, and linebacker D. J. Edwards.
Mears, Slocum and Tamulevich are from football families.
Mears is the son of the late Jerry Mears, former Arundel and Meade football coach. Mears had a record of 129-68, third in county history to Laramore and Papetti.
"Geoff is a sophomore and is a good one, tough kid with a lot of savvy that he got from his dad," said Newman.
Slocum is the brother of former All-County football and basketball player Gene Slocum, who graduated in 1990. A bit more slender and taller than his brother, Jarray, a sophomore, runs a lot like Gene did.
"Jarray has good potential and is a pretty good open-field runner," said Newman.
Tamulevich is the son of Cmdr. Carl J. Tamulevich, deputy director of athletics at the Naval Academy. His dad played football for the Midshipmen, but he is playing the sport for the first time.
"Jeff was the only junior on the JV because he never played football before, and we thought it would be good for him to gain some experience with the JV," said Newman. "We thought Jeff came along well, and he should contribute to the varsity next season."
Newman described Adams as "a little guy with a big heart, man is he a hitter."
Adams is 5 feet 5, 120 pounds, but the freshman defensive back delivers hits like a guy twice his size.
Scholz boomed kickoffs all season long and had a 35-yard field goal.
Hager ran well at fullback before breaking an ankle and giving way the last few weeks of the season to Hammond. Edwards is a sophomore linebacker who could be a key player on next year's varsity.
No doubt many of the JV's outstanding players will move up to varsity, but that's what JVs are for. Newman and Evans did their job, and the varsity should reap the benefits just as South River's did.
South River had a senior-dominated team (17 of 25 players) in 1991 and went 9-2, losing in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
JV grads from the Newman/Evans-coached undefeated team stepped up this fall, and the 15th-ranked Hawks went 7-3, just missing postseason play.