A host of county girls coaches had been whispering how this might be a "payback" year for the Arundel Wildcats.
Those same coaches are now saying "uh-oh," after the No. 4 Wildcats knocked off No. 7 Annapolis, 46-35, on Tuesday, a result that left both teams 2-2 overall.
Annapolis was to be one of the major threats to the defending Class 4A state champions' throne because of its horde of returnees and superior height (three 6-footers), but as Arundel coach Lee Rogers said afterward: "Their guards can't keep up with our guards."
No, sir, don't even think about counting out Rogers' Wildcats. They're still the team to beat.
Fast 'Cats get tired
After running to a 19-point lead in the first half against No. 6 Annapolis on Tuesday, it appeared that 11th-ranked Arundel slowed the pace down -- and nearly blew the game.
"We just got tired, " said first-year coach V. J. Keith after his Wildcats (3-0) posted a 59-48 victory over the Panthers (2-2). The win was Arundel's fourth in its last five games with Annapolis.
"It was not a decision to slow it down, and I think both teams were tired. That first period [Arundel led by 24-13] was played a very high speed, and we just died."
Keith used just six players, and after 9-0 and 6-0 runs by Annapolis at the end of the first half and start of the second half, the lead was gone and it was a ballgame again.
Down the stretch, the Wildcats hung on by hitting eight straight free throws (four by Jamell Miller) on four one-and-one situations to preserve the victory.
Contrary to what many thought, Keith is not looking to run a methodical, slow tempo offense as he became accustomed to as a four-year assistant to Ken Kazmarek at Broadneck.
"We are trying to run, and, hopefully, the more games we play, we will be able to keep playing at longer tempos at that speed [high]," said Keith.
Honors for Graves, Lipton
Two outstanding high school football players who could become University of Maryland teammates will be honored at the annual Annapolis Touchdown Club banquet in February.
The club is presenting its annual Rhodes and Laramore Trophies to Monte Graves, linebacker/guard for top-ranked St. Mary's and The Sun's Metro Defensive Player of the Year, and to Erik Lipton, Arundel's All-Metro quarterback.
County coaches voted Sunday to present Graves with the top lineman award, named in honor of Big Al Laramore, the late Annapolis legend and county's all-time winningest coach. Lipton will receive the Jim Rhodes honor as the county's outstanding player at its Feb. 6 banquet in Annapolis.
Graves led the Saints to a second straight Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference tri-championship, an overall 8-2 record, and their first No. 1-ranking in metro Baltimore.
Graves, who is 6-foot-2 and weighs 240 pounds, had 62 unassisted tackles, assisted on 52 others, had an interception, blocked punt and eight sacks. New Maryland football coach Ron Vanderlinden was impressed with his punishing style at the recent Baltimore-Metro All-Star Game.
Clearly the county's best overall player, Graves was a close second to Lipton for the 35th Rhodes Trophy.
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Lipton, who was being recruited by the former Terps regime headed by Mark Duffner, set state public school career records for passing attempts (522), completions (312), yards (4,769), touchdown passes (47), and fewest interceptions for 400 or more passes (17).
Lipton's dad, Chet, played JV basketball at Maryland and graduated from there.
Lipton, who I think chose wisely not to play in the all-star game (he didn't need to and could only have lowered his stock), is the second Wildcat in a row to win the Rhodes. Linebacker/running back Jon Norsworthy won last year.
Both Graves and Lipton visited Maryland recently.
With only three private-school coaches and 12 public-school coaches voting, it's pretty tough for a private-school player to win the Rhodes, but two others have done it: Don Sadler of the old Wroxeter School in 1977 and Mike Busch of St. Mary's in 1963.
Old Mill sophomore Chris Combs, ranked sixth in the state at 112 pounds, won the NOVA (for "Northern Virginia") Wrestling Tournament last weekend. He's only the third Patriot to do it. Combs, a former junior league state champion with Randy Bohlman's Arden Attackers, defeated the Virginia champion.
The neatest Christmas card around has to be the one Arundel's Becky Carlson sent me. Carlson, the first county girl to play JV baseball, sent a photo of herself in an Arundel uniform throwing a first pitch at Camden Yards in July -- with her name in lights on The Sun scoreboard.
Bart Rader has resigned after 14 seasons and a 60-80 (.429) record as football coach at Northeast. The Eagles were 5-5 this past season.
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Pub Date: 12/19/96