Some major changes are taking place within Randallstown's athletic program, starting from the top, where Jim Higgins, 68, the school's athletic director since it opened in 1969, is being transferred.
Principal Barry Williams named Lawrence E. Hall, a former assistant football coach at Towson State and a head lacrosse coach at Alfred University in New York, as Higgins' replacement.
In addition, Randallstown baseball coach Dave Wright has transferred to Lansdowne, where he will coach baseball and junior varsity boys basketball. And football coach Jack Bush is leaving to become defensive coordinator at Central State (Ohio), where he was an assistant in 1988 and 1989.
Williams has replaced Bush with last year's assistant, James Carpenter, 26, an Oklahoma native. A two-time All-MEAC running back at Howard University, Carpenter is the county's second-youngest coach -- Western Tech's Mark Quillan is 24.
Of Hall, a teacher at Sudbrook Middle School, Williams said: "I feel very comfortable with his background and I think he'll take Randallstown in a positive direction for combining fine sportsmanship and academia."
Higgins said Williams told him "about a month ago" that his days at Randallstown were over.
"I was given a list of 10 schools I can be reassigned to, including Dulaney, Loch Raven, Towson and Perry Hall," said Higgins, whose 42-year teaching and coaching career includes tenures at Franklin and Milford Mill. "I haven't been reassigned yet, but they'll have to reassign me because I'm not retiring."
Wright, who went 50-29 in four years as Randallstown's baseball coach, replaces Lansdowne's Rich Griser. Griser had replaced Ron Bareford, who retired two years after his Vikings won the school's only state title in any sport.
Randallstown's hiring of Bush, 46, and Eastern Tech's hiring of Bob Ray, 56, raised to an all-time high of four the number of black coaches in the county last year. The two men became the fifth and sixth black coaches in county history. Joe Yates (Parkville, 1972-81) was the county's first, followed by Bob Greene (Milford Mill, 1991-93).
But Ray is retiring due to undisclosed health problems after a 2-8 season, so Carpenter, Woodlawn's Brian Scriven and Lansdowne's Terry Brooks, hired in 1993-94, are the county's only black coaches. Ray's replacement could be named as early as next week.
Coming off a year as a scout for the New England Patriots, Bush led the Rams to their first playoff appearance since 1990. He replaced John Buchheister, whose 128-44 record in 16 seasons included a 1A state title at Milford Mill in 1987 and a 3A state title at Randallstown in 1990 after an unbeaten season.
Bush turned down offers to scout for two NFL teams to return to Central, an NAIA Division I program that was a national champion 1990 and 1992 and went 8-3 last year. He helped his second-team All-Metro lineman Tarren Crawford (6-8, 330) land a scholarship to Central State.
At Franklin, football coach Claude Darr has retired after leading the Indians to a 10-1 record in his 25th season. Athletic director Jill Myers named Rob Smith, formerly head coach at John Carroll and assistant at Poly, to replace Darr.
Former Kenwood wrestling coach Len Patrick, whose Bluebirds were fourth in the state in 1979, also is being transferred, ending a 32-year association with the school.
Patrick was given a list of 10 schools to choose from, but has turned down two offers from schools that were not on the list, according to assistant principal Barry Heddings.
Patrick, whose replacement has not been named, coached six individual state champs, including two-time champ Bruce Malinowski (1977, '79), Overlea's present wrestling coach.
At Dulaney, girls soccer coach Kathy Schmidt, who helped the Lions to a 3A-4A state title in 1993, has retired from teaching and coaching.
Athletic director Bob Dean has promoted two-year junior varsity boys basketball coach Phil Bressler to the varsity post, where he replaces Glenn Snyder after seven seasons. Bressler's past positions include being an assistant at Boys' Latin, head basketball coach at Franklin Roosevelt in Brooklyn, N.Y., and an assistant at Pace University in New York.
Parkville's new boys basketball coach, former Towson State assistant Steve Baker, replaces Nelson Dennis, and Patapsco's Eric Watkins steps in for Pat Conway. Baker was last year's strength coach for Loyola College's men's and women's program and a counselor at the Five-Star camps.
In the city, longtime Poly assistant football coach Bruce Strunk steps into the role of head coach at Northern. He is replacing Ike Hemphill, whose Vikings snapped a 14-game losing streak and had their best season (6-4) since going 9-0 four years ago.