Arundel's 1995 football team (9-0) can take its place in county history with a victory at Meade (7-2) today. The No. 4 Wildcats can become the 10th to go undefeated in the regular season in the last 35 years.
The county public school football league began in the 1960's with the state playoffs commencing in 1974 with semifinals and finals in four classifications. Quarterfinals began in 1988.
Before the 1960s, only a few schools -- Annapolis, Bates, Brooklyn Park, Southern, St. Mary's and Severn -- played football. Glen Burnie dropped football for a while , but resumed in the early '60s.
Of the nine teams since 1960 to go unbeaten (seven unbeaten, untied), Annapolis has done it four times with the late Al Laramore (156-67-2, .693) involved in all four, and Arundel twice.
The 1978 and 1979 Wildcats went 10-1 and 11-1, respectively, losing in the playoffs after perfect regular seasons.
The '78 Arundel team lost to eventual state champion Friendly, 10-6, in the first round of the playoffs after winning its first 10 games. The '79 Wildcats reeled off 11 in a row before losing to Seneca Valley (owns state-leading five undefeated seasons, the last in 1994), 13-0, in the state Class A final.
Severna Park defeated Arundel, 21-0, in 1979, but the Falcons later forfeited because of an ineligible player.
Arundel is one of only three county teams to win a state football championship, but the 1975 state champs (9-2) did not go unbeaten.
Current Arundel coach Bill Zucco was around as an assistant or JV coach during those Wildcats glory years. The late Jerry Mears was head coach of the state champion team and Buddy Hepfer (94-61,.606 career) was coach of the two undefeated in the regular season.
Zucco, who joined the faculty at Arundel in 1967, is part of an impressive Arundel assistant coaches fraternity.
Arundel athletic director and baseball coach Bernie Walter; Old Mill track coach Ron Evans; and Clint Gosnell, the Wildcats' lacrosse coach, have won more than one state championship in their sports.
Also, Chuck Markiewicz led North County to the 4A state football title last season. Markiewicz and Broadneck football coach Jeff Herrick, each of whom is a member of the Anne Arundel Community College Hall of Fame, played at Arundel and later coached the JV together.
Each of the top teams in Arundel history had an outstanding quarterback. Neal Herrick was behind center on the state champion and Mike Coyle started three years beginning in '78. The left-handed Coyle was named to the Anne Arundel Sun All-Decade Team for the '80s.
Zucco's quarterback is junior Erik Lipton, who started on last year's quarterfinalist and this season leads the county in yards passing (1,651), touchdown passes (15), completion percentage (94-for-150, .626) and least interceptions (4) for those with 100 or more passes.
"This team reached its first goal of making it back to the playoffs, and now they've got a chance to do something special," said Zucco.
The 1978 Annapolis team is one of 32 public school state champions (in four classifications) to go undefeated, but the only Anne Arundel County team to go 12-0.
Also in 1978, St. Mary's under coach Michael Busch, now Del. Busch, went 9-0-1. The Saints are one of two county teams to go unbeaten, but tied, the other Laramore's 1966 Annapolis team (10-0-1).
Severna Park tied the Panthers, 12-12, in their traditional final game that back then was played on Thanksgiving at U.S. Navy-Marine Memorial Corps Stadium in Annapolis.
Annapolis was also unbeaten in 1962 (9-0), under head coach Neville Leonard with Laramore as an assistant, and 1984 (11-1). The initial unbeaten Panthers team featured Anne Arundel County Hall of Famer Alan Pastrana and Buck Gardner, the recently retired Southern-Harwood coach.
Pastrana went on to play at Maryland and for a brief time in the National Football League with the Denver Broncos. Gardner, who retired after the 1994 season, led Southern to the state 2A final in 1993.
The '84 Panthers lost their final game, the AA championship at College Park, by 14-6 to Randallstown -- Baltimore County's first state football champion.
Glen Burnie in 1967 (10-0) and Severn School under coach Peter Dewald in 1980 (9-0) are the other county teams to go unbeaten in the regular season.
Joe Papetti, who moved onto South River where the Seahawks named the football field after him while he still was coaching, guided the '67 Gophers.
Anne Arundel County football teams unbeaten in regular season (overall record in parentheses) since 1960:
Year School, Coach, Record
1962 Annapolis, Neville Leonard, 10-0
1966 Annapolis, Al Laramore, 9-0-1
1967 Glen Burnie, Joe Papetti, 10-0
1978 Annapolis, Al Laramore, 10-0 (12-0)*
1978 Arundel, Buddy Hepfer, 10-0 (10-1)**
1978 St. Mary's, Mike Busch, 9-0-1
1979 Arundel, Buddy Hepfer, 10-0 (11-1)***
1980 Severn, Peter Dewald, 9-0
1984 Annapolis, Al Laramore, 10-0 (11-1)****
* Class AA (now 4A) state champion
** lost first-round Class A (now 3A) playoffs
*** lost A state final
**** lost AA state final