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Meade's ticket to playoffs?


Give Roman Harrison credit.

He is not only one of the most exciting running backs in Anne Arundel County, but the Meade senior also has a flair for the dramatic.

Imagine this scene at Severna Park two Friday nights ago. It's homecoming for a young, 2-1 Falcons football team that is searching for an identity and clinging to hopes for a state 4A playoff berth.

A win over Meade is desperately needed, and an overflow crowd is in the stands to cheer for the home team.

Harrison comes through and runs as if it may be his last game ever. He darts, dances, glides and sidesteps his way through the Falcons for 200 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries in a 26-19 victory. Most of the people in the stands and the Severna Park defense say this should not be happening.

But it did, and Harrison is now among the top rushers in the Baltimore metro area, carrying the ball 108 times for 775 yards (7.2 yards a carry) and six touchdowns in five games.

He also has Meade (4-1) thinking playoffs after a long dry spell. It has not had a .500 season since 1989 when Harrison's brother, Marlon, was a 6-foot-2, 230-pound defensive tackle on the team.

"We didn't want to be 1-9 like last year," said Roman. "[The win over Severna Park] was a big win in the county. They were one of the best in the county."

Now the Mustangs just might deserve that tag.

Especially with Harrison dominating games.

"Roman has good vision, sees the holes, runs to daylight, has the ability to slide and get into the open seams, redirects well, can run laterally, and is always going forward," said Meade coach Jerry Hartman, who was an assistant football coach at the Naval Academy. "He's basically a slasher."

When it was mentioned that Harrison is only 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, Hartman said: "Don't discredit him for that. He does a great job in the weight room and squats 485 pounds. I think if you look at the NFL and college football, most of the better 'I' backs are small like Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith."

Hartman said Harrison is also helped by a willingness to prepare himself for every game.

"Roman has done a great job in getting ready to play," said the coach. "It's not the will to win that counts most, but the preparation. Everybody wants to win. The people who win in football and in life are the ones who prepare the most."

That philosophy and a calm approach to the game by Hartman has helped lift the Mustangs out of football obscurity, said Harrison.

"[Hartman] tells us if we do the right things in practice we should go on the field expecting to win," Harrison said. "And when we ZTC win we should remain calm and act as if we expected it, at least in front of the other team and the fans. Coach Hartman is always calm on the field. He won't show any emotions until we get into the locker room."

Neither Hartman nor Harrison is surprised by the runner's success this season, his second on the varsity.

The road to the 200-yard game against Severna Park began nine years ago when he was 8 years old, said Harrison.

"I was playing football against my cousins, who were 13- and 14-year-olds at the time," he said. "I even played against some kids who were nine years older than me. And going behind my brother helped me a lot. I seen how he played hard."

So what about all that vision and ability to slide into the holes when he has the football?

"I just keep my eyes open and know what I'm aiming to do," he said.

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