What better way to kick off the high school sports year than making the season's first "Sidelines" a Sunday smorgasbrowse.
The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, the group that governs the athletic programs of public high schools, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
The MPSSAA has significantly grown and improved in its half-century, particularly under the leadership of Executive Secretary Ned Sparks. One of the most remarkable accomplishments during Sparks' tenure has been the embracing Baltimore City public schools.
With the city schools playing under the auspices of the MPSSAA, bona fide state champions have been established. This year also marks the employment of the open playoff format for all sports except football.
Everybody is in the playoffs except for football teams, which retain the old points system of qualifying.
In an attempt to create a reason to play regular-season games other than for plain exercise, county coordinator of physical education Rick Wiles officially has announced two divisions.
The North and South division winners will play for a county championship at season's end in most sports. Football teams will not be included.
Chesapeake, Glen Burnie, Meade, North County, Northeast and Old Mill are in the North while Annapolis, Arundel, Broadneck, Severna Park, Southern and South River make up the South Division.
The county All-Sports Trophy is still there to shoot for. Severna Park (126.5 points based on overall standings, boys and girls sports) won the 4A title for 1994-95 over Arundel (116) while Broadneck copped the 2A-3A by 60.5 to 45 by South River.
A few interesting transfers have occurred involving basketball players. Jeff Hatch, a 6-foot-7 junior center who started his first two years at Severna Park, has moved down the street to Severn School to play for ex-Severna Park player and coach, Charles Duckett.
Hatch will give the Admirals a huge front line with 6-8 senior Andrew Watts. Hatch also is playing football for the first time as a tight end/defensive end for coach John Beckman.
"Jeff is really enjoying football and once he learns to use his size, he could be really something," said Beckman.
Another Severna Park player, 6-1 senior guard Devon Phillips has transferred to Old Mill and powerful 6-4, 245-pound Anthony Graves returned to Old Mill for his senior year after a season at Archbishop Carroll in Washington.
Graves averaged 14.0 points as an Old Mill sophomore and teamed with second-team All-County guard Joe Barnes (5-9) should make the Patriots a 4A contender.
Longtime rec football coaches Chuck Morse of Gambrills Odenton Rec Council and Norris Roy of Crofton are JV coaches at Arundel and Severn, respectively.
Severna Park coach Andy Borland has welcomed home three of his former Falcons in Jamie Bragg, Kevin Schiavone and Tim Bowerman. Bragg, a 1988 Falcon grad and All-County defensive end who was a two-way lineman at the University of Maryland, is coaching the Falcon linemen.
Schiavone, an '88 Falcon grad who played fullback and linebacker on two straight region championship teams at Severna Park before going on to play baseball at Maryland, will handle the linebackers. Last spring Schiavone was an assistant baseball coach at Glen Burnie where the Gophers missed the playoffs by a game.
Second-team All-County in his senior year of 1992 after throwing for 947 yards and 13 touchdowns, Bowerman is coaching the Falcon quarterbacks.
It's law and order at Annapolis and South River. Veteran county policeman Dave Griffith is a new assistant on coach Roy Brown's Annapolis football staff while two other county policemen, Sam Worsham and Eric Owens, have taken the reins of the South River JV for head coach Dave Summey.
Summey also has two former players of coach Joe Papetti, for whom the Seahawks' football field was named, as assistants -- Rick Day (varsity) and Ronnie Travers (JV), an attorney who played at Washington and Lee.
Hall of Fame news
Arundel athletic director Bernie Walter has succeeded Ted Sophocleus as the second president of the Anne Arundel Sports Hall of Fame. The group will announce its fifth induction class this month.
Arundel High School will conduct its first athletic Hall of Fame inductions later this fall with former tailback Louis Carter, who played at Arundel, Maryland and in the NFL with Tampa Bay, to be enshrined.