'90s-style offense makes Knights class of county


The difference between Glen Burnie's wing-T, which, unfortunately, is the offense of most county teams, and North County's run-and-shoot, was apparent Saturday in Linthicum.

The Gophers (2-2, 0-1) obviously do not have a two-minute or hurry-up drill and it showed as they lost to No. 4 North County, 20-14, in a county Class 4A League game.

Glen Burnie was faced with a first and 10 at its own 20 with 1:33 remaining after a Knights' punt went into the end zone for a touchback. The Gophers didn't try to gradually move down the field and score, but rather tried to go for it all on the first two downs.

Quarterback Jermaine Smith passed deep down the right side, incomplete. Smith tried deep on the other side, incomplete. A draw play for two yards by fullback Jay Sponaugle came on third down followed by a 10- to 15-yard pass on the left on fourth down, also incomplete.

Had North County (3-1, 2-0) been in the same situation, it would have had a chance because of its run-and-shoot offense, which is like a constant two-minute drill.

The no-huddle, short pass here, short pass there to set up the big one is just part of the routine and certainly advantageous when a team is playing catch-up.

Wing-T pass plays are easy to read by well-coached defenders, while the run-and-shoot's flooding of a specific area with two or three receivers is difficult to cover.

I thought what Gophers coach Dave Rigot said afterward was interesting, yet puzzling.

"It's frustrating because I thought we could play with them, and I thought we could throw the ball on them," said Rigot.

Then, why didn't his team pass more?

Smith completed two of only six passes for 26 yards (one intercepted) in the first half, and his first pass of the second half came on the team's first play of the last period. It was an 80-yard touchdown to Mike Ackerman.

The Gophers' run right, run left tactics had lulled the Knights' secondary into a nap and, thus, the big play. The next time Glen Burnie got the ball at its own 17 with just under nine minutes left, what do you think it did?

You've got it. The Gophers ran six straight times and were awarded 35 yards in penalties, moving to the North County 35.

A big play, fourth-and-nine at the 35 with 5:07 left, resulted in a dropped pass at the Knights' 25. The Gophers had no choice but to throw, although they did manage one running play on their last possession.

Only in its fifth year, North County continues to dominate Anne Arundel County (county champs two of last three years and the only team to make the playoffs in each of the last three) because of its diversification and zeal for throwing the ball.

North County has adjusted to the '90s while Glen Burnie and most of the other county teams still are stuck in the '70s and literally can not get off the ground.

Even when they know they should be throwing as in the case of Glen Burnie with the strong-armed Smith, they still don't and that's why they lose the big games.

North County coach Chuck Markiewicz is a rebel in the 4A wing-T league because he's the only one whose team truly wings it.

Along the same lines, that must have been a beautiful game at Annapolis where the Panthers (3-1) edged (1-3) Old Mill, 6-3, Friday night. Each team had about 45 total yards passing, which is as many as North County gets on a normal drive.

I erred in my game story on North County/Glen Burnie Sunday saying that the Knights were assessed seven penalties for 85 yards. It was more like 10 for 115 yards.

Some might say that the referees overreacted, dealing 15-yarders for talking trash, but in fairness to them, they kept control and possibly prevented a brawl and ejections.

The Knights were fortunate they didn't get another flag because of their noisy band. The officials told it to cool the music while Smith was calling signals and his teammates were trying to listen, but the horns and drums didn't obey and the fans got noisier.

The new stadium at North County is superb except for the somewhat unsafe water sprinkler cap that is exposed near midfield. It needs to be buried.

Saturday was a productive day for North County defensive back Reno Owens. Owens had an interception just before the end of the first half, then took homecoming king honors at halftime.


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