With North County as model, more teams go to air for success LOCAL SPORTS: HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW


Win a state championship and everyone wants to be just like you, especially high school football coaches who love to march in step as a fraternity.

Arundel won the county's first state title in football in 1975 and Annapolis followed in '78. Both employed the Delaware wing-T offense, and the run-oriented attack or a variation of it became the offense of the '80s in Anne Arundel.

The pass was considered a plague.

There were no other state football champions from Anne Arundel until North County last fall.

North County coach Chuck Markiewicz had dared to be different with his run-and-shoot offense several years ago and succeeded (four straight playoff berths and a 46-11 record in the school's five-year history) while many predicted his failure.

The North County influence continues in Anne Arundel County and will have even more of an impact this fall. Passing as a priority has become the offense of the '90s. North County's state championship has given county coaches the passing fever.

Anne Arundel County's longtime "grind-it-out" club has been replaced by the "frequent fliers" and it can only mean more exciting and more successful high school football.

Severna Park's Andy Borland is putting the emphasis on the pass for the first time in 23 years. Borland is one of five county coaches who hope to throw the football more this fall.

Last year for the first time in county history, three quarterbacks passed for 1,000 yards or more and four for 950 yards or more. North County's Earl Sewell, the school's fourth All-County quarterback to throw for more than 2,000 yards, was No. 1 with 2,237 yards (156-for-296) and 18 touchdowns.

The county's futile 7-17 record in the playoffs since the state went to the eight-team format in 1986, has been embellished by the success of North County. The county is 5-5 since 1992 in the postseason with the Knights going 4-3, including a state title during that time.

Borland noticed.

"Our power-I was good enough to get us to the playoffs, but every time we got there, the teams from Montgomery and Prince George's would make us defend more of the field," said Borland. "We need to do some thing else to take it to the next level."

That something else is putting the ball in the air.

"I can't believe he's throwing the ball after the way he criticized our offense, calling it a junk offense," said Markiewicz.

Borland emphatically says it's "not the run-and-shoot" and calls his new system "an organized passing tree."

"It's not as much of a read as the run-and-shoot and cuts are definitely being made, and we use a tight end," said Borland.

Still, the bottom line is, the ball will be in the air at Roberts Fieldmore than any other year since George Roberts started Falcon football in 1961.

"And having Jamie Bragg [former Severna Park All-County and University of Maryland center in the run-and-shoot] as an assistant will sure help Andy," said Markiewicz. "The offensive line duties are vital to the success of the scheme."

Broadneck and St. Mary's joined the Knights a couple years ago with their versions of the run-and-shoot. The Bruins had their best season last fall under coach Jeff Herrick while the Saints have been competitive in the tough Maryland Interscholastic Athletic A Conference.

This season the county Class 4A League will have five of its eight teams looking to pass more. Arundel, Chesapeake and Annapolis hope to earn membership cards in the frequent fliers club with Severna Park and North County. Glen Burnie, Meade and Old Mill have yet to apply.

"We're still running the Delaware wing-T, which has a pretty good passing game of its own, but we will go to the one-back version more and throw more," said Arundel coach Bill Zucco. "Erik Lipton [junior quarterback] could be a legitimate prospect at 6-3 and 190 pounds with his strong arm."

Tom Kraning at Chesapeake wants to use the passing ability of senior Ryan Moore. Juniors Earl Kerns (4.5 in the 40) and Shariff Holder (4.56) can go get the ball.

"Earl can flat out fly and Ryan just has to learn to throw it far enough for him to run under it," said Kraning. "We will throw a little more."

Annapolis coach Roy Brown, a coaching disciple of the late Al Laramore who deplored the pass, joked that his Panthers were "going to run every play in our grunt-and-run offense," when asked if he was tempted to pass.

"Seriously though, I would like to throw more and Donnell has a good arm," said Brown of sophomore quarterback Donnell Foote. "We've been working on it, and as soon as we feel he's ready, we may start throwing."

In the Class 2A-3A League, another member of the old guard, coach Bart Rader of Northeast, admitted he had intentions of throwing more in '95, but inexperience at quarterback coupled with an experienced line and two strong backs has scrapped the idea.

Meanwhile, new Southern coach, Russ Meyers plans to pass more.

It's the offense of the '90s.

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