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2-sport standout Melton opts to play football at JMU


Dennard Melton, Anne Arundel County's career scoring leader in both basketball and football, is not going to be a midshipman after all.

Melton, a four-year varsity standout in the two sports at Severn School, signed yesterday with James Madison University to play football.

After graduating from Severn last June, the 6-foot, 205-pound Melton played safety and cornerback at a Navy prep school in Rhode Island this fall.

Navy coach Charlie Weatherbie was excited about Melton's potential, but Madison landed the quick and very strong athlete.

Melton, who played several positions, including running back and quarterback, distinguished himself as the only player to be a first-team All-County player for four years.

He finished his football career with county records for touchdowns (65 and second highest in the state ever) and total points scored (412).

Playing option-quarterback, defensive back, kick returner and punter his last two years at Severn, Melton was a marked man. But he produced often, even when hurt. Melton was the All-Metro all-purpose back his senior year.

In basketball, Melton was All-County his last two seasons and scored a county record 1,907 points in his four varsity seasons.

More football signees

Former Meade RB Tanardo Sharps, who was All-Metro with Melton in 1997 after becoming Anne Arundel's single season and career rush leader (1,862 and 3,627 yards, respectively, in just two seasons), signed with Temple on Wednesday after playing at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy.

The 5-8, 185-pound Sharps, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds, was The Sun's county Offensive Player of the Year both seasons he played.

Temple opens this fall at home against Maryland on Sept. 4, and Sharps could be pursued by a former Mustangs teammate. All-County defensive back Andrew Smith, Sharps' teammate at Meade in 1997, signed with Maryland on Wednesday.

Severna Park grad Brycen Erbe, a 6-3, 260-pound tight end at Hargrave (Va.) Academy last fall, signed with Kent State. He played high school football for the first time in his senior year.

Gophers cast a shadow

As boys hoops playoffs approach, a team Class 4A East's big three -- No. 4 Annapolis (15-1), No. 6 Meade (15-1) and No. 9 Old Mill (14-2) -- should watch is Glen Burnie and its red-hot Owen Gaither.

The Gophers (10-6 overall) improved to 7-3 in county play with a 50-46 victory at North County (8-8, 6-4 league) on Wednesday. The 6-foot-3 Gaither, a senior, continued a recent tear with 27 points, eight rebounds and five steals.

Gaither had 24 points and 13 boards Tuesday in a 65-58 win over Arundel (7-8, 3-6) after scoring 30 in the Gophers' 79-68 win at Severna Park Friday.

Gaither, averaging 21.5 points an outing, has hit 30 big ones four times this winter, three of them in his last six games.

"Owen has been unbelievable, and he's such a great kid and pleasure to coach," said Glen Burnie's third-year coach, Mike Rudd. "Owen is our main man but is so much more dangerous with George Schneider in there."

Glen Burnie won four of its first five games before Schneider, a 6-foot-4 senior post man, broke a foot in December. With him out, the Gophers were 3-5. Schneider returned Friday at Severna Park, and the Gophers are 3-0 since then. Schneider totaled 26 points and 20 rebounds in the three games.

It's not coincidental that Gaither has been on fire in the same period. Schneider gives the Gophers much-needed presence inside and takes some of the pressure off Gaither.

Rudd likes Gaither on the wing, but his big gun also can take it inside to keep defenses honest.

"For a while, Owen was trying to do it all, but with George back, he has so many more options," said Rudd.

After winning only three games in his rookie season with a team that had little experience, Rudd led the Gophers to 10 wins last winter, two in the playoffs.

Before this season, he predicted: "I expect us to compete with anybody in the county."

Nobody is disputing that.


With Annapolis' winning streak in boys basketball having ended at 14 in last Friday's 64-61 loss to Old Mill, top-ranked Archbishop Spalding (20-2) and Meade own the boys' longest current streaks at 10 in a row. Spalding hosts Cardinal Gibbons tonight, and Meade entertains Southern (4-11, 2-7).

Spalding soared to No. 2 in the Associated Press's Maryland rankings, one step behind Wheaton's Good Counsel (23-1). The county is well-represented with Annapolis 12th, Meade 17th and Old Mill 20th.

Have a note or question for Sidelines? Call Pat O'Malley's 24-hour Sportsline, 410-647-2499.

Pub Date: 2/05/99

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