Passing to set up the run has been the North County forte over the last few years and propelled the Knights to a 4A state football championship last fall.
That was last fall. The Knights have experienced serious problems running the football and the result is their 2-3 record and most likely absence from the playoffs for the first time in five years.
No. 5 Arundel (5-0) defeated the Knights, 21-14, last week and the game typified North County's season to date. The Knights managed only 53 total yards rushing, only 14 in the second half.
"They can't run as well as they have in the past," said Arundel coach Bill Zucco.
For the first time in its six-year history, the Knights don't have a back among the county's leading rushers.
Games of 100 yards-plus rushing and even 200 by North County's ace backs had been commonplace until this season.
Meanwhile, Arundel has unseated North County as the county's top team by throwing the football, something Zucco said his team would do more of in 1995.
With a talented quarterback in 6-foot-3, 190-pound junior Erik Lipton, throwing the football had to be a major part of the Wildcat offense and it has been. In addition, Arundel can run when it has to and the balance between passing and running has been outstanding.
Saturday Lipton completed 13 of 23 for 169 yards. Two of his completions came on the game-winning drive. Lipton hit Joe Parker for 15 yards and followed it up with a 10-yard completion to Darnerian McCants to give the Wildcats a first-and-10 at the North County 29 with 2:33 remaining.
Senior John Norsworthy rambled 27 yards to the 2 and took it in on the next play with 1:51 left for the game-winning touchdown.
It was interesting in the third period. With just under five minutes left, North County had a second-down-and-one at its 18. Last year, back Topper Ellis would have picked it up, but this year, Knights coach Chuck Markiewicz decided to gamble on a pass, possibly because of his lack of confidence in his running game.
Quarterback Maurice Bowie was sacked for a 10-yard loss and the Knights ultimately punted on fourth down. C.J. Jones' punt went 32 yards and Arundel had good field position although it failed to capitalize.
Things have really changed, but credit Markiewicz for revolutionizing county offensive schemes with his run-and-shoot. More teams are throwing as a result.
Arundel looks like the county's best total offensive unit and the Wildcats are throwing more along with Severna Park (3-2) and Meade (4-1).
Backs can be key
What a difference one key back can mean to an offense as in the case of Old Mill's Chuck Manns and St. Mary's Rashi Reed.
Manns, the Pats' quarterback, injured his hip and did not play the second half of the 12-9 overtime loss to Annapolis.
Manns did not play at all in Friday's 26-0 loss to Meade. The Patriots (2-3) have not scored since Manns was sidelined.
Reed did not play against top-ranked Mount St. Joseph (5-0) two weeks ago because of a knee injury and the Saints (3-2) lost, 26-12. Reed returned Friday to rush for 104 yards on 22 attempts to pace a 15-6 victory over Loyola (0-4).
A great Christmas gift?
The late Charley Eckman's wife, Wilma, said that a book on Eckman's life to be entitled, "It's A Very Simple Game," written by Fred Neal, is scheduled to be released in December.
Neal researched Eckman's life as a broadcaster, former NBA coach and referee, etc., and you can call two cabs on it promising to be great reading.
Severna Park's girls and boys cross country teams were tops among county entries in the very competitive Anne Arundel County Invitational on the Annapolis High 3.1-mile course.
The Falcon girls took the varsity A1 race with 55 points followed by Eleanor Roosevelt (96) and Annapolis (102).
In the boys varsity A1, the Falcons (115) were fourth behind No. 1 Calvert Hall (45), Quince Orchard (63) and Perry Hall (93).