Homecomings are special, but the one in Gambrills Saturday should be very special. Arundel High will accent the present with a trip down memory lane.
Arundel will play host to Chesapeake at 1 p.m. in the Wildcats' homecoming football game, then the school's inaugural Athletic Hall of Fame dinner/dance will be presented.
Former Arundel running back Louis Carter, who went on to become an All-American at Maryland and play in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders, softball pitcher Lynn Hearty and the 1975 state champion football team will be inducted in the Wildcat Hall of Fame.
Hearty was 18-0 for the 21-1 state champion Wildcats softball team of coach Rod Clark in 1983. Hearty, who was the Anne Arundel Player of the Year, became an All-American pitcher at the University of Maine.
Arundel scored two touchdowns in the final minute at Severna Park High to stun Parkdale, 13-7, and claim the county's first of only three state championships. Offensive guard Mike Lyons gobbled up a teammate's fumble and --ed 48 yards for a game-tying touchdown with 47 seconds left.
Two plays later, defensive end Ricci Bonaccorsy caused a Parkdale ball carrier to cough up the ball with the Wildcats' John Fisher smothering it at the Parkdale 33.
On the next play, quarterback Neal Herrick pitched to Don Kubecka who hit Scott Davies on a halfback option pass for the game-winning touchdown with 17 seconds left.
The timing for honoring this great team could not be better. Twenty years later, Arundel's current head coach, Bill Zucco, has transformed the Wildcats' football program back into one of the county's best.
Zucco was a member of the history-making '75 coaching staff. It ranks as probably the most impressive staff in county history, and its roll call indicates why Arundel won the state title.
The late Jerry Mears (129-68-2 at Arundel and Meade), a member of the Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame, was the head coach with Zucco, Buddy Hepfer, Ron Evans and Bernie Walter as his assistants.
Mears' winning attitude and charisma rubbed off on the staff and each has taken what he learned from the man and made his own niche.
Hepfer succeeded Mears when he moved to Meade and was 93-61 with four playoff appearances in 15 seasons as head coach. Hepfer also owns more than 100 wins as the Wildcats' wrestling coach.
Evans has won more state championships in boys and girls track than any coach in any county sport. He started the Old Mill football program before retiring from that sport.
Walter has gone on to win more state baseball championships (seven) than any coach in Maryland history and is the Arundel athletic director.
"That team  accomplished a lot after leaving high school that a lot of people are not aware of," said Walter.
"Back then, Arundel was just beginning to get recognition in the Baltimore and Washington newspapers, and unfortunately people did not hear about some of the absolutely terrific things those kids did."
Wide receiver Chuck Hebron, also an outstanding second baseman on Walter's first two state champion baseball teams in 1976 and 1977, along with Herrick, broke all the pass-receiving records at Salisbury State. Hebron later played in the Canadian Football League, as did '75 teammate Sam Johnson.
Herrick played baseball at Maryland before getting a brief stint in the Orioles' farm system.
Linebacker Don O'Shea played on a national champion football team at the University of Delaware and defensive tackle Gary "Sugar Bear" Collins played on one of the last Morgan State teams to play in a bowl game.
It's easy to see why this team won a state championship. The 1975 team will be recognized at halftime of the homecoming game and inducted later that evening with Carter and Hearty.
Arundel alumni can get more information by calling (410) 721-4548 or (301) 621-7377. Tickets will be sold in advance.
Jamie Cook, a 1990 Annapolis grad and the Anne Arundel County Sun Defensive Player of '80s decade, is starting at strong safety for Brigham Young.
Old Mill's Chuck Manns, a quarterback/punter, is among the county leaders in passing, rushing, scoring and punting and is drawing Division I attention. There also is a lot of interest in Manns as a baseball outfielder.