Annapolis Fighting Panthers
1997 record: 9-2
Coach: Roy Brown (career: 59-35)
Top players: Kyron Belt, Sr., QB-S; Henry Downs, Sr., G-LB; Dewayne Hunt, Sr., RB-LB; Rashad Wills, Sr. T-DT; Jack Brooks, Sr., TE-DE; Eric Toney, Sr., G- LB; Charles Carter, Sr., T-DT.
Outlook: Coming off a banner playoff season, which included county and region titles earning Brown Coach of the Year honors, the Panthers have many question marks. Annapolis lost seven first team All-County players to graduation, including four on the offensive line. "That's where we win at Annapolis, and we're not very deep," says Brown. "We are going to have to rely on 10 to 12 sophomores." Brown says the Panthers have "average size but good team speed, including our linemen." The coach will rely on a host of two-way players led by Belt, Hunt, Downs and Wills. With no returning quarterback, Brown had "no choice but to move two-year RB Belt there. He's a good athlete and has an adequate arm." Hunt should emerge as the No. 1 back and will anchor the secondary with Belt. Downs missed last season with a knee injury but is expected to be a standout, along with Wills, who will be a force on the defensive front. A winning season but no playoffs this time for the Panthers, who are a year away.
Archbishop Spalding Cavaliers
1997 record: 6-4
Coach: John Moscato (second season)
Top players: Sam Creveling, Sr., WR-DB-PT); James Bowen, Sr., RB-DB; Darren Johnson, Jr., RB-LB; Chris Petrocelli, Sr., WR-DB; Joe O'Conner, Jr., T-DT; Greg Pierce, Jr., TE-DL; Sean Emmerick, Jr. QB-LB.
Outlook: After only the second winning season since the football program began in 1984, Moscato returns with high hopes. "It's no longer a guessing game between the coaches and players. We know what to expect," said Moscato, a former youth football coach in Baltimore County whose dad John Sr. is one of his assistants. "We are enormously faster as a team." Creveling (5-10, 165), a second-team All-County punter with his 36.9-yard average, led Spalding in rushing (525 yards) and scoring (seven touchdowns) last season but has been moved to WR. Bowen, last year's top WR (19 catches, 273 yards), will be a running back this season. Bowen (6-0, 180) and Johnson (6-3, 180) give the Cavs speed. JV grad Emmerick (6-2, 185) is at QB. Moscato has beef up front defensively with O'Conner (6-5, 275), Pierce (6-0, 250) and junior David Tekippe (5-11,230). Seven wins and a run at the MIAA B Conference title? "Absolutely," said Moscato.
1997 record: 5-5
Coach: Bill Zucco (career: 39-23)
Top players: Mike Parker, Sr., TE-DT; Domenic Greco, Sr., RB-DB; Jeff Blachly, Sr., G-LB; Matt Malloy, Sr., G-LB; Greg Wojtech, Sr., RB-LB; Adam Adler, Sr., FB-LB; Jason Carter, Sr., DB-QB; Chris Lundborg, Sr., DB-QB; Romaine Devaul, Sr., DB; Brian Plummer, Sr., DB; Paul D'Imperio, So., QB.
Outlook: A solid senior nucleus (22 returnees) led by All-County DE/TE Parker makes the Cats a Class 4A playoff contender. Three second-team All-County picks in Greco (5-11,175) Blachly (6-0, 210) and Malloy (5-11, 175) will help Parker, who will be an offensive threat at TE, anchor what should be an outstanding defense. Greco, a three-year starter, was the Cats' leading rusher/scorer last fall with 900 yards and 10 touchdowns. D'Imperio (5-11, 180) was thrown to the wolves as a freshman QB and responded by passing for nearly 635 yards and five touchdowns in the last five games. "Right now, he and Carter are battling for the position [QB]," said Zucco, who has been involved in the Wildcats football program since 1968, the last seven as coach. Zucco says FB-LB Adler, a transfer from Minnesota, is "going to be outstanding both ways." Arundel is expected to be the county Class 4A team to beat -- 8-2 or 9-1.
1997 record: 9-2
Coach: Jeff Herrick (career: 46-44)
Top players: Lehrman Dotson, Sr., WR; Martel Threadgill, Sr., RB; Fred Davis, Sr., slot; LaRon Colbert, Jr., slot; Dorian Watkins, Sr., DB; David Lazzari, Sr., T-DT; Jeff Logan, Sr., DE; John Cifolilli, Sr., DT; Ryan Eslin, Jr., QB.
Outlook: Having made the playoffs for the first time last fall, the Bruins are looking for an encore. Dotson, the county's only All-Metro underclassman last year, and All-County RB Threadgill pace seven, three-year starters. Dotson (6-1, 165) led the county in touchdowns caught (14, school record) and was second in catches (32), yards (616) and average yards (19.3). Threadgill (5-9, 170) became the school's first 1,000-yard rusher with 1,050. Dotson and Threadgill, plus wide receivers Davis and Colbert, equal potency. The pressure is on junior Eslin (6-2, 185) to deliver the way All-County QB Jonas Weatherbie, now at Kansas, did in setting school records for passing TDs (20) and fewest interceptions (two). "Ryan has a strong arm and needs to learn how to read," said Herrick, who runs a Navy-type offense. The Bruins also are looking for a new kicking game. Even so, expect the Bruins to go 7-3 or 8-2 and return to the Class 3A playoffs.
1997 record: 5-5
Coach: Tom Kraning (career: 33-67)
Top players: Tyrone "J.R." Carter, Sr., NG; Beau Danton, Jr., QB; Mike Bazley, Sr., LB; Damon Keemer, Sr., T; Melvin Guthrie, Jr., FB-LB; Tony Lewis, Sr., LB; Ted Peapos, Sr., G; John Ryan, Sr., C.
Outlook: After two straight 5-5 seasons, the Cougars might give Kraning his first winner in his 11 years. "We have a good line and should have a decent defense, said Kraning. "The killer is, we lack team speed." Carter (5-10, 250) is a bull, and hard-hitting LBs Guthrie (5-11, 175) and Lewis (5-11, 200), who missed his junior season because of an auto accident, will be tough. Danton (6-1, 160), the JV QB the last two years, is ready to run the varsity, which boasts an experienced front led by Keemer (6-1, 290), Ryan (5-11, 205) and Peapos (5-9, 175). "As Beau goes, we go," said Kraning. "He's a great athlete and very intelligent." Another 5-5.
Glen Burnie Gophers
1997 record: 1-9
Coach: Brad Wilson (first season)
Top players: Jason Taylor, Sr., QB; Edwin Perez, Sr., RB; Jason Wilson, Sr., WR; Jeremy Moore, Sr., LB; Ryland Whitaker, Sr., DE; Bobby Fisher, Sr., NT; John Leary, Sr., G-DT; Ryan Woods, Sr., T-DT; Ron Weatherbie, Sr., T-LB.
Outlook: Wilson is where he hoped to be a year ago. When a phys-ed teaching job opened this year, Dave Rigot (21 years) retired for the second time, opening the door for Wilson to move from North County to Glen Burnie. The Gophers have won only two games the last two seasons and have never been to the playoffs. Rigot, the Gophers' new athletic director, greased the skids for Wilson by abandoning his ancient power-I and going to the run-and-shoot last fall. "Offense is important, but we will hang our hats on defense and special teams," said Wilson, North County's defensive coordinator for the last eight years. "We've got a lot of tough kids on defense." Taylor (6-2, 180) is expected to be the QB. "Taylor is very smart and just has to get used to staying in the pocket more. Overall, I'm excited about the attitude of the kids and .500 or better is a realistic goal."
1997 record: 7-3
Coach: Mark Frye (second season)
Top players: Andrew Smith, Sr., QB-S; Edmund Carazo, Sr., WR-CB; Ray Grimes, Sr., TE-LB; Marcus Davis, Jr., T-LB; Chris Whipple, Sr., WR-DB; Mark Whipple, Sr., WR-DB; Richard Redwood, So., RB-CB; Charles Hatcher, Sr., G-DL; Will Brown, Sr., T-DL; Mario Collazo, So., T-DT.
Outlook: The Mustangs shared the county Class 4A title with Annapolis, the only team to defeat Meade (25-21) in seven league games. Graduation took away Tanardo Sharps, the most prolific RB in county history, not to mention three other All-County choices, but Frye is not worried. He might have a Sharps clone in Redwood (5-10, 175). "Richard reminds me a lot of Tanardo, is quick and has the moves," says Frye. Smith (6-1, 190) developed into a pretty good QB as last season wore on, and Frye has put in the option to take advantage of Smith's speed and quickness. "Andrew also has a really strong arm," said Frye of his QB, who will scan the field for three-year starter Carazo (5-11, 180) and TE Grimes (5-11, 195). The lines average 235 pounds with Collazo the biggest at 6-0, 290. To go 8-2 or 7-3, the Mustangs have to win at least one of their first three against Lake Clifton, Friendly and Oxon Hill.
North County Knights
1997 record: 3-7
Coach: Chuck Markiewicz (career: 73-45)
Top players: Otis James, Sr., RB; Mike Pfisterer, So., QB; Paul Brown, Sr., WR; Charles Gaither, Sr., WR; Eric Pinkney, Jr., WR; Jack Walsh, Jr., C; Alan Scheffers, So., G; Ricky Dixon, Jr., G; John Cargo, Jr., T-DT; Jason Schultz, Jr., T; Steve Fountain, Sr., LB; Craig Rhodes, Sr., DB.
Outlook: Markiewicz, whose team was the scourge of the county through 1996, is optimistic that his team can return to its winning ways. "We're young by class, but most of our guys played a lot last season," said Markiewicz. "If we can play defense, we will be in pretty good shape." Del Hughes, who coached with Markiewicz at Meade, takes over the defense. James, a second-team All-County RB after gaining 1,126 yards as a junior, could be a game breaker. The continued progress of sophomore QB Pfisterer is also vital. At least a .500 season.
1997 record: 0-10
Coach: Steve Sweet (second season)
Top players: Troy Bolling, Sr., TE-LB; Mike Schaeffer, Sr., G-LB; James Taylor, Sr., T-DT; Joe Rothgeb, Sr., RB-DB; David Kellner, Jr., T-DT; Rodney Jones, So., FB-LB; Matt McKenzie, So., C; Jim Wojtanik, So., QB-DB.
Outlook: Sweet is confident the Eagles "can win some games" after a frustrating 1997. "We've got the kids who really want to play and work hard," said Sweet, who lost several players because they would not commit to summer weightlifting. "We ended up with the toughest kids." Among them is returning QB Wojtanik, who was called up from JV for the last five games in '97, to run the Wing-T. "Jim was timid at times but is more confident now, bigger and stronger." Sweet says his team speed is better, especially with Jones at FB. Look for the Eagles to win a couple.
Old Mill Patriots
1997 record: 7-3
Coach: Mike Marcus (first season)
Top players: Craig Hall, Sr., QB; Toney Twitty, Sr., RB-LB; Brandon White, Sr., WR-DB; Jeremy Robinson, Sr., T; Dave Antonacci, Sr., FB-LB; Jason Galloway, Jr., WR-DB; Antoine Cooksey, Jr., WR-DB; Mike Tetlow, Jr., C-LB; Dave Kim, Jr., T-DT; Mark Smith, Jr., RB-DB.
Outlook: The Pats missed the Class 4A playoffs by one win in Pete Regala's farewell season last fall. Marcus, a player and then defensive coach under Regala for 11 seasons, inherits a potent nucleus, led by RB Twitty (912 yards, 15 TDs), QB Hall (833 yards, eight passing TDs) and his favorite target, White (25 receptions, 483 yards). Twitty (5-11, 175), a couple credits shy of graduating in June, is back for his fifth season; he was second-team All-County along with the speedy and soft-handed White (5-11,160). Hall (6-4, 215) could emerge as the county's best QB, but much depends on his line. "We will throw the ball more out of a one-back set, but our line is young and inexperienced," says Marcus, who appears to have an outstanding junior class -- Galloway, Cooksey and Smith seem ready for prime time, for example. The Pats, in the Class 4A hunt, could go 8-2 and make the playoffs.
St. Mary's Saints
1997 record: 6-4
Coach: Brad Best (career: 58-32)
Top players: Tim Shanley, Sr., QB-PK; J.D. Magnolia, Sr., WB-DE; Steve Peduto, Sr., C-DT; Tim Tobias, Sr., T-LB; Brian Kennedy, Sr., G-LB; Josh Summers, Sr., T -DT; Brian Ford, Sr., G-DT; Arthur MaAdams, Sr., WR-DB.
Outlook: Unlike a lot of coaches who stick to a system, Best has been successful in his 10-year run at the Annapolis school by matching positions with his players' capabilities. After graduating 22, Best has scrapped his wide-tackle six defense in favor of the 4-3. "Our defense is going to be our strength, and we have a returning group that is one of our strongest, with three guys who bench over 300 pounds," said Best. "The 4-3 suits them." Magnolia (6-1, 190), Peduto (6-3, 240) and Tobias (6-1, 200) bench over 300 on a line that averages 215 pounds a man. Offensively, Shanley, QB backup last year and also the PK/punter, is coming along fast and has last year's leading receiver in MacAdams (21 receptions, 252 yards) to throw to with question marks in the backfield. Ending at .500 in the MIAA A conference will be a struggle.
Severna Park Falcons
1997 record: 4-6
Coach: J.P. Hines (first season)
Top players: Nick Dewind, Sr., T-DT; Dave Wagner, Jr., G-LB; Jeff Logan, Sr. T- DT; Matt Hudson, Sr., G-LB; Todd Skinner, Sr., C; Mike Solheid, Sr., WR-DB; Paul Gillette, Jr., WR-DB-PK; Danny Villegas, Jr., RB-LB; Josh Banks, Jr., QB; Chris Odom, Jr.,QB-DB.
Outlook: Only the third Severna Park coach, Hines, a 1979 Arundel High grad, succeeds the retired Andy Borland, the Falcons' coach for 25 years and third winningest coach (145-108) in county history. "Andy has been very supportive, but I'm teaching the kids a lot of new things, and they're starting to jell," said Hines, whose squad has been hit with a rash of preseason injuries. QB is up in the air among Banks (6-1, 170), who will miss the first game for his sister's wedding, Odom (6-0, 180) and, possibly, 6-6, 215-pound sophomore Trevor Quinn. Unlike Borland, Hines plans to use a lot of offensive formations and throw the ball more while using a multiple 4-3 defense. LBs Wagner (6-2, 205), who Hines says "could be a wrecker," and Hudson (5-11, 195) will anchor the defense. A fast start could mean a .500 season, or better.
1997 record: 4-5
Coach: John Beckman (career: 16-12-1)
Top players: Tom Cleaver, Jr., QB; Joe Salsich, Jr., T-DL; Mike Edgar, Sr., RB- DB; Will Dammeyer, Sr., TE-LB; Ted Harries, Sr., WR-S; Dan Lilly, Jr., RB-LB; Ron Staines, Jr., WR-DB.
Outlook: Entering the "post Melton" era, Beckman expects his Admirals to contend for the MIAA B Conference title. Dennard Melton, the county's all-time leading scorer (65 TDs and 412 career points) and The Sun's only four-time All-County football player, is now at Navy prep school. Cleaver, who was 17-4 as starting QB for the fresh-soph team since eighth grade, has been "outstanding in scrimmages," Beckman said, adding: "Because of his strong arm, we will throw the ball more than ever." Defensively, Severn will get away from its 50-front and use a variety package.
1997 record: 5-5
Coach: Russ Meyers (career: 12-18)
Top players: Randy Salisbury, Sr., QB-DB; Antwon Jones, Sr., RB-DB; Jake Cramer, Sr., RB-LB; Pat Dowling, Jr., RB-LB; Bryan Armstrong, Jr., RB-LB; Steve Price, Sr., T-DT; Ben Leitch, Sr., T-DT; Darius Turner, Sr., E-DB.
Outlook: Class 2A Southern, in Meyers' words, "pretty soft defensively" last fall, has to change to have a successful season. "We're going to be better defensively, more aggressive," said Meyers, who is counting on hefty senior tackles Price (6-4, 275) and Leitch (5-8, 260) and LBs Armstrong (6-0, 195) and Cramer (5-10, 175). Salisbury is back for his third year at QB in the Bulldogs' wishbone. Most of his hand-offs and pitches will go to Jones (5-8, 150) and Armstrong (6-0, 195). "The talent is as good as I've had here," said the fourth-year coach. With six home games -- five in a row -- Southern has a shot at another .500 " season.
South River Seahawks
1997 record: 5-5
Coach: Dave Summey (career: 91-100-1)
Top players: Dameon Johnson, Sr., RB; Johnny Jones, Jr., RB; Bruce Lee, Jr., RB; Lou Burgher, Sr., T-DT; Sam O'Neal, Sr., T-DT; Jason Lambert, Sr., G-NG; Jimmy Herr, Sr., G-NG; Chris Haynes, Sr., C; Justin Markman, Jr., G-NG.
Outlook: Summey starts his 20th county season, the 10th at Class 2A South River after 10 at Brooklyn Park, as the new dean of county coaches. Disciplined and fundamentally sound are the norm with Summey-coached teams, and this year's team should be just that with a senior line that averages 230 pounds a man. Burgher (6-1, 220), Haynes (5-11, 240), and O'Neal (6-2, 245) are the key seniors, with junior Markman (6-3, 270) adding bulk. "Right now, we have a few injuries on the line with a lot of untested players, but we do have 35 players," said Summey. Junior Jeff Donohue has won the QB job and RBs Johnson, Lee and Jones have speed. The county's smallest public school needs a fast start to have a winning season.
Football's Top 15
2. Mount St. Joseph
3. Wilde Lake
4. Calvert Hall
5. Eastern Tech
7. Milford Mill
10. Long Reach
Pub Date: 9/04/98