Teams at a glance

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Atholton Raiders

1998 record: 1-9 overall, 0-9 league

Coach: Kevin Kelly (career 19-21)

Classification: 2A

Top players: Neal Halloran, Sr.,QB; Craig Smith, Sr., TE/DE; Jarrett Emery, Sr., OG/LB; Jeremy Butler, Sr., OT/DT; Brian Mullinix, Sr., FB/LB; Joe Levine, Sr., OT; Shaun Johnson, Sr., QB; Brandon Merrell, Sr., WR/DB.

Outlook: Inexperience will bother the Raiders, who have just four senior returnees. They also have four first-year seniors among their 28 players. Depth is improved, because they had just 17 players last season, when they defeated only Northeast. Speed is improved with the likes of two sophomore RBs, 6-foot, 185-pound Terrance Johnson and Fairmont Heights transfer Ricardo Roach. The team has some decent size on the line, featuring juniors Robert Olson at 230 pounds and Greg Ignocencio at 230 pounds. Last season ranked as the toughest in school history -- shut out five times and outscored by county opponents, 332-34. And the Raiders carry a nine-game losing streak into this season. But look for some improvement.

Centennial Eagles

1998 record: 5-5 overall, 4-5 league

Coach: Ed Holshue (career 91-95)

Classification: 2A

Top players: Adam Booher, Jr., OT-DT; Mike Bruzga, Sr., E, DE; Wyatt Cooper Jr., OG, DL; Alan Dupski Sr., C, NG; Omid Janloo, Sr., OG, DL; Kevin Laycock, Jr., E, DE, K; Tim Mitroka, Sr., FB, DE; Brian O'Connor, Jr., QB, DB.

Outlook: The Eagles will carry only 10 seniors among their 28 players. They are well-conditioned, but strength rates as only average, though the Eagles will be quicker. And they have some size on the line, but are smaller than average at the skill positions. Cooper is expected to be the team's top lineman. Mitroka is rated "top-notch" by his coach. The Eagles upset Howard, 24-15, last season and nearly upset eventual state champion Oakland Mills before losing, 12-7. The Eagles hope to knock off another winning team this year. The Eagles will play Fallston instead of J. M. Bennett as their only non-league game.

Glenelg Gladiators

1998 record: 3-7 overall, 3-6 league

Coach: John Davis (career, 9-21)

Classification: 1A

Top players: Zack McQuigg, Sr., QB; J. T. Smart, Jr., WR; Paul Brooks, Sr., WR; Raynell Mohammed, Sr., RB, LB; Vince Pirro, Sr., RB; Andrew Garland, Jr., LB; Rob LaHayne, Soph., OT, DT; Chip Bowen, Jr., WR.

Outlook: The Gladiators are speedier, thanks to players such as Pirro and Mohammedthan, and are much stronger thanks to dedicated weightlifting and an influx of youth. And with 33 players, their depth is good for a Class 1A school. The JV went 10-0 last season, and a lot of those players are expected to become varsity impact players. Major attention will focus on McQuigg, a 6-3, 205-pound first-team All-County pick who needs 2,050 yards to break the state career passing record and 677 yards for the county record. The Gladiators, with talented receivers to assist him, will line up three or four wide frequently. WR Paul Brooks, 6-0, 205 pounds, was first-team All-County punter with a 39.8 average on 44 punts, and he also caught 13 passes for 209 yards and three TDs. The beefed-up line, which averaged 180 pounds last season, averages 230 now. And with players such as LaHayne at 6-3, 235 pounds, expect a more two-dimensional offense. The Gladiators, a dark-horse team this season, upset Long Reach, 14-10, to go with wins over Hammond and Atholton last season, and will be looking to pick off another county power or two this season.

Hammond Bears

1998 record: 1-9 overall, 1-8 league

Coach: Joe Russo (career, 118-93)

Classification: 2A

Top players: Jason Harriman, Sr., WR/CB; Paul Nowecak, Sr., OT; Chris Breedlove, Sr., TE/S; Kevin Chrapaty, Sr., LB; Joe Neary, Sr., OT; John Sacks, Sr., LB; Jason Maxey, Jr., QB; Jeff Frye, Jr., RB; Brian Brewer, Jr., OG; Kevin Sschwartz, Jr., FB/LB; Jamal Stewart, Jr., RB/LB.

Outlook: The Bears suffered only their second losing season since 1987 last fall and posted their worst record since the school's inaugural season in 1977, when they went 1-9. Russo, the school's first-and-only head coach, has a new offensive coordinator in Bill Smith, and the Bears will run a wishbone offense in hopes of generating more points and more wins. The team lacks experience, however. Maxey quarterbacked the final four games last season. Frye has switched from defense to offense. Stewart, injured, played just one game. The Bears are guaranteed an exciting opening day and $3,000 for their football program, when they travel tomorrow to Cumberland to play two-time state champion Fort Hill, a team that draws 10,000 fans to its games. "It should be fun," Russo said. "We'll be better than last year."

Howard Lions

1998 record: 6-4 overall, 5-4 league

Coach: Vince Parnell (career, 29-41)

Classification: 2A

Top players: Gerald Smith, Sr., RB, DB; Joey Tortella, Sr., TE, LB; Jose Monzon, Sr., RB; Mike McAleese, Sr., OT; Kyle Fleischmann, Sr., OT; Barry Dagold, Sr., NG; Travis Irving, Jr., FB, DE; Matt Snyder, Soph., E, S.

Outlook: The Lions have average size, above-average speed, and linemen mobile enough to pull and trap for a wing-T offense. They have good senior leadership, because Smith, Tortella, Monzon and McAleese are all third-year starters. Smith, one of the county's all-time great running backs, who orally committed to Penn State last season and is a two-time, first-team All-County player, rushed for 1,167 yards and 18 TDs, including a 225-yard, three-TD effort against Wilde Lake during a 56-27 loss. The Lions' defense will be more physical and must replace most of the secondary. Senior speedster Antuan Jones and junior Anthony Durham are vying to be QB. Parnell expects to field a high-scoring offense. The team's goals are to make the playoffs and win a county title. Parnell hopes an improved defense will make those goals achievable. Last season, the Lions lost to state Class 1A champ Oakland Mills by one point, 7-6. They host both Wilde Lake and Oakland Mills this season. Their new non-league opponent will be Woodlawn, replacing Southwestern.

Long Reach Lightning

1998 record: 6-4 overall, 5-4 league

Coach: Pete Hughes (career, 18-13)

Classification: 3A

Top players: Tally White, Sr., RB, LB; Chris Brooks, Sr., RB; Stewart Long, Sr., QB; Luis George, Sr., CB; Justin Havrilla, Sr., K; Brian Plumley, Sr., OG; Charles Wilson, Sr., WR; Bill Clark, Sr., TE, LB.

Outlook: The Lightning hopes to win its first county title and should have a shot at achieving that goal, because it returns 10 defensive starters and nine offensive starters from a team that recorded four shutouts and outscored the opposition 245-108. Wilson, who didn't play last season, is a 6-1, 185-pound WR with quickness and good vertical jump who should put a charge into the offense. Long is an accurate passer who can also run. The offensive line averages 280 pounds. Brooks is one of the best RBs in the league. A much-improved Cardinal Gibbons replaces Montgomery Blair as the lone non-league opponent. The Lightning opens the league season Sept. 9 at home against River Hill. The Hawks defeated Long Reach last season, 10-9. Long Reach, a fourth-year school, won a regional title two years ago and craves a return to the playoffs.

Mount Hebron Vikings

1998 record: 4-6 overall, 4-5 league

Coach: Larry Luthe (career, 4-6)

Classification: 2A

Top players: Einar Wulfsberg, Sr., LB; Mike Koenig, Sr., OL; Matt Nelson, Sr., C; Kevin McGrath, Sr., OL, LB; John Crow, Sr., FB, LB; Tom Tittsworth, Sr., RB, CB; Jim Watson, Sr., QB; Minn Kim, Sr., NG.

Outlook: The Vikings had won only nine games in five years under three previous coaches before Luthe stepped in last season and directed them to four victories. Varsity numbers, once in the teens, have solidified at 31. Twenty seniors return, as do all but one defensive starter. Luthe thinks the Vikings will be quicker to the ball than last season and hopes for more offensive consistency from a slot-I. Crow, a transfer from Pennsylvania, can run. And he led his former team in tackles last season. Wulfsberg led the Vikings in tackles. Koenig, at 5-10, 230 pounds, is a key player -- the strongest on the team whose line averages 220 pounds. Luthe hopes that the team's seven state championship lacrosse players can provide a crossover winning attitude. His goal is a 6-4 season.

Oakland Mills Scorpions

1998 record: 12-1 overall, 8-1 league (state Class 1A champs)

Coach: Ken Hovet (career, 47-19)

Classification: 1A

Top players: J. T. Rembert, Sr., TB, LB; A. G. McCray, Sr., FB, DB; Robert Roche, Sr., WR, DB; Ed Echols, Sr., QB; Robert Scott, Jr., OL; Mike Ellis, Jr., OL; Andrew Deming, Jr., OL; Andrew Croner, Soph., OL.

Outlook: The Scorpions return eight starters from their first state championship team and winningest season. They graduated five first-team All-County players, however. Hovet hopes much-improved team speed can overcome those losses. Echols, last season's back-up QB, is quick and has a solid arm. The Scorpions will be young, with only five seniors expected to play a lot. But junior linemen Scott, Ellis and Deming all have varsity starting experience. The Scorpions will start two freshmen cornerbacks with 4.5 speed, Keion Reames and Hasan Mohammed. The Scorpions, who won six games last season by a TD or less, including two one-point victories, again expect to be one of the top three county teams, and they are riding an 11-game winning streak.

River Hill Hawks

1998 record: 7-3 overall, 6-3 league

Coach: Don Van Deusen (career, NA)

Classification: 3A

Top players: Jason Fawcett, Sr., FB, LB; Jake Adams, Sr., RB, LB; Miguel Montanez, Sr., RB, LB; Scott Cannon, Jr., OT; Todd Williams, Sr., OG; Drew Baxter, Sr., C; Spencer Wilson, Jr., OT; Jeff Kuczynski, Sr., DE.

Outlook: The Hawks, who move up from Class 2A to 3A, return six starters on offense and four starters on defense from the best team in the school's brief four-year history. Among them are seven senior starters and two junior starters. Adams, who made 46 tackles, three interceptions and three fumble recoveries, and Fawcett who made 89 tackles and rushed for 1,100 yards, were both first-team All-County players. Four of five starting offensive linemen return, including Cannon, Williams, Baxter and Wilson. Linebacking will be a strength. The Hawks, who had a huge turnout of 130, will keep 42 players on varsity. They have good size and strength but lack team speed. Sixty-four players attended wing-T summer camp. The veteran squad will attempt to build on last year's breakthrough third-place season and earn their first playoff trip.

Wilde Lake Wildecats

1998 record: 9-2 overall, 9-0 league (county champs)

Coach: Doug DuVall (career, 219-51)

Classification: 3A

Top players: Chad Fawcett, Sr., QB; Steve Jefferson, Sr., OL/DL; Emmanuel Glover, Sr., OL/DL; Geneo Colston, Sr., OL/DL; John Quinn, Sr., RB/LB; Mario Merrills, Jr., RB/DB; Nyema Wilson, Jr., WR/DB; Jason Downs, Sr., LB; Chris Riley, Sr. WR/DB; Billy Hawken, Sr., OL.

Outlook: A veteran offensive line, a heady QB, team size, plus speed-to-burn signal another another successful season for the county's most successful program -- despite the graduation of six first-team All-County players. Over the last three seasons, Wilde Lake is a combined 35-3. DuVall said Merrills (5-10, 170), was clocked at 4.3 in the 40 at the Maryland combine. Fawcett (6-1, 165) should display the same leadership that led to his first-team All-County basketball selection as the Wildecats' point guard. Glover is a mammoth 6-5, 300 pounds to go with Colston (6-0, 295), Jefferson (6-2, 230 and All-County), Hawken (6-3, 220), the sophomore Burns twins, Chris and Pat, at 290 pounds, and junior Staunton Lawyer at 298 pounds. "This will be an exciting team to watch," said DuVall. "We expect to mix pass and run. We have a lot of inexperience and are not a lead-pipe, unbeatable team. It's going to be hard to beat four-year teams like Long Reach and River Hill, but this team reminds me a lot of the one that won our last state title (1997). There are no egos." -

Pub Date: 9/02/99

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