Annapolis Fighting Panthers
1998 record: 8-3
Coach: Roy Brown (career, 67-38)
Top players: Rayvon Johnson, Sr., RB; Marvin Charles, Sr., TE-S; Aaron Copeland, Sr., RB-LB; Aaron Fenwick, Sr., FB-LB; Mike Phaneuf, Sr., QB; Travon Williams, Sr., G-DE; Kyle Acker, Sr., TE-DL; Brandon Gulley, Jr., G; Nick Good-Malloy, Jr., T; Mike Melton, Jr., RB; James Forrester, Jr., DL.
Outlook: "We have a good group of returning seniors, but most of them will be starting for the first time," said coach Brown. "It's a matter how fast they adjust." Sure-handed TE Charles (14 catches, seven TDs) and Johnson were two of three juniors named first-team All-County last season. Second-team All-County DB Copeland anchors a defensive secondary with Johnson and Charles. Phaneuf "has the skills to run the wing-T," the coach said. Speed, quickness, hitting, and in Johnson, maybe the metro's best RB, make Annapolis a Class 3A state-title contender.
Archbishop Spalding Cavaliers
1998 record: 5-5
Coach: Mike Whittles (first season)
Top players: Darren Johnson, Sr., RB-LB; Joe O'Conner, Sr., T-DE; Sean Emmerich, Sr., QB; Greg Pierce, Sr., T-DL; David Pekitte, OL-DL; Bill Harris, Sr., DB; Zach Hardy, Sr., OL-LB; Frank Bugg, Sr., OL-DL; Isaac Brooks, Sr., RB-DB.
Outlook: A successful youth-football coach, Whittles, 45, gets his first shot as a high school coach. The Cavaliers ran out of equipment with a record turnout and have about 35 varsity players (22 last fall). Whittles has installed the ancient single-wing offense for his Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference campaign, explaining: "We want to take advantage of our size and quickness off the ball from tackle to tackle." Huge tackles O'Conner (6-foot-5, 265 pounds) and Pierce (6-1, 250) lead a veteran interior line expected to open the gate for speedy, punishing RB Johnson. "Batman" Johnson (6-3, 185 with 4.6 speed) ran for 1,178 yards and 13 TDs last year and is also a defensive standout. An All-County LB as a junior, Johnson led the Cavs in tackles (42) and had two interceptions.
1998 record: 5-5
Coach: Bill Zucco (career, 44-28)
Top players: Tom Dorsey, Sr., G-DE; Danny Nucci, Sr., RB-CB; Jon Tippett, Sr., G-DG; John Udewald, Sr. T; Paul D'Imperio, Jr., QB; Andy Mylnarski, Sr., G-DT; Tyrone Stewart, Sr., WR-DB; Matt Jones, Sr., LB; Andy Price, Sr., T.
Outlook: Zucco pondered retiring but is back for his eighth season as Wildcats' coach and 31st year at the school. Dorsey (6-1, 205), a second-team All-County tackle, was solid on both sides of the ball for last fall's injury-hampered team. "Our entire offensive line, which has good size, returns, along with our quarterback," said Zucco. LB Jones (5-11, 185) is that defender. D'Imperio (6-0, 170), injured much of last season, has come back strong. Big players include tackles Uytlewaal (6-0, 260), Price (6-0, 350) and junior James Matthews (6-1, 315). Arundel could win six or seven games.
1998 record: 11-1
Coach: Jeff Herrick (career, 57-45)
Top players: Stephan Sharps, Jr., DL; Blaine Fairbanks, Jr., G; Ryan Eslin, Sr., QB; Tony Klapaska, Sr., DT; Nick Klapaska, Jr., DL; Brian Williams, Sr., WR-S; Jeff Britton, Sr., T; Brysean Williams, Jr., LB.
Outlook: The Bruins are coming off the greatest season in school history, their only loss by 49-13 at eventual state champion Friendly in the Class 3A state semis. But an encore is unlikely in the step up to Class 4A, because graduation took a heavy toll. But Herrick began his 11th season in Cape St. Claire with a huge turnout. The Klapaska brothers, Tony (6-3, 270) and Nick (5- 10, 240), LB Williams (5-9, 215) and second-team All-County DL Sharps (6-3, 195) beef up the defensive unit. Herrick, last season's county Coach of the Year, plans two-platoon football again. Britton (6-4, 220) at T and Fairbanks (5-10, 190) at G will push the offense. A 6-4 or 7-3 season seems likely.
1998 record: 2-8
Coach: Tom Kraning (career, 35-75)
Top players: Kraig "Bo" Danton, Sr., QB; Mel Guthrie, Sr., LB; Justin McCarthy, Sr., LB; Rob Norris, Sr., DE; Justin Reed, Sr. G; Mike Henson, Sr., DT: Tim Reed, Sr., DT.
Outlook: To take advantage of team strengths, Kraning has gone to the single-wing offense at the urging of JV coach Jim Simms, who has been successful with the shotgun-type snap to the spin-back (QB). Kraning is banking on Danton (6-1, 165), the only junior on the 17th Sun All-County Academic-Athletic team with his 4.12 GPA, to propel the new offense. Junior Adam Hartlove (5-8, 165) will start things at C with two more 11th-graders, RBs John Hackman (5-8, 160) and Keith Ford (5-7, 150), getting the call frequently. G Justin Reed (6-2, 225) will be a key blocker. Defensively, the Cougars are big up front with Tim Reed (6-5, 330) and Henson (6-2, 240). Meade, Annapolis and Broadneck make for a rough start for, likely, another losing season.
Glen Burnie Gophers
1998 record: 0-10
Coach: Brad Wilson
Top players: Matt Smith, Sr., RB-DB; Chris Grogan, Sr., OT-DE; Tommy Brand, Sr., G-DE; Lewis James, Sr., LB; Donnie White, Jr., QB; Abu Bangura, Jr., RB; Keith Williams, So., SE-DB; Jason King, Sr., LB.
Outlook: Wilson exudes confidence. "What a difference a year makes," he said, thrilled with a turnout of more than 100 players. "We're three weeks ahead of last year at this time." Wilson said his Gophers will be "more athletic and quicker." LB King (6-3, 240), a Cardinal Gibbons transfer, could be an enforcer with DEs Grogan (6-1, 180) and Brand (6-3,195) turning plays inside. Smith (5-8, 155), an All-County catcher on the state title baseball team, will be busy at WR and DB, along with the speedy, athletic Williams (6-2, 180). White (5-11, 170) can throw, and Bangura (5-5, 145) can fly, which gives the Gophers balance. Two or three wins.
1998 record: 5-5
Coach: Kenny Gray (first season)
Top players: Antoine Smith, So., QB; Rodney Jackson, So., WR; Richard Redwood, Jr., RB; Kenny Rhames, Jr., RB; Dave Manley, Sr., RB; Marcus Davis, Sr., LB-OL- RB; Troy Dailey, Sr., OL-DL; Bryson McKenzie, Sr., G-SS; L.J. Curry, Sr., G.
Outlook: Gray, a Meade assistant last year and 1982 All-Metro LB at Meade, as well as The Arundel Sun's All-'80s Team, has no head coaching experience. QB Smith, who got a lot of playing time as a freshman, has speedy RBs at his disposal in Redwood (5-9, 180), Rhames (5-10, 175) and Manley (5-9, 165), plus a deep threat at WR, Jackson (5-11, 160). Gray, who would not talk about the offense and defense he will use, said he has a lot of talent, with more coming from Germany, Texas and Florida to military based school. Look for 5-5 or 6-4 season.
North County Knights
1998 record: 3-7
Coach: Chuck Markiewicz (career, 76-52)
Top players: Mike Pfisterer, Jr., QB; Nat Randall, Sr., WR; Dave Bush, WR; John Cargo, Sr., T; Allen Sheffers, Jr., G-LB; Ricky Dixon, Sr., G; Jason Schultz, Sr., T; Jack Walsh, Sr., C; Avon Johnson, Sr., LB.
Outlook: With a seasoned offensive line that averages nearly 210 pounds and, the coach said, has the potential to be "best we have ever had" and an experienced QB who is still a junior, the Knights are primed for a return to glory. After dominating the county during the 1990s, including a Class 4A state title in '94, the Knights have had back-to-back 3-7 seasons. "But we've got the talent to be very good and absolutely can turn it around," said Markiewicz, starting his 10th season in Ferndale and 14th overall. Cargo (6-3, 215), Schultz (6-3, 220), Sheffers (5-11, 205), Dixon (6-3, 210) and Walsh (5-11, 200) form what could be a formidable interior. Pfisterer (5-10, 160) led the county in passing (1,504 yards), attempts (305), completions (157) and interceptions (14) but threw 12 TD passes in the Knights' run-and-shoot. Pfisterer's main targets will be Randall (6-0, 160) and Bush (5-7, 150). Sheffers will play LB as the only Knight to go both ways. Sophomores Bobby Snyder (6-1, 175, DN) and Norman Stumpf (5-7, 145, DB) will start on what should be a 9-1 or 8-2 playoff team.
1998 record: 0-10
Coach: John Runk (first season)
Top players: Jim Wotanik, Jr., QB; Rodney Jones, Sr., FB; Chris January, Sr., T; Tony Thomas, Sr., G; Dave Kellner, Sr., G; James Taylor, Sr., T; Matt McKinsey, Jr., C.
Outlook: New coach Runk said he loves a challenge. He has one. The Eagles have lost 21 straight since 1996. A former Patterson and Towson State football/lacrosse player who was an assistant at Severna Park last fall, Runk said his goal is "to end the losing streak and turn things around." He hopes to do it with Wotanik (6-1, 170) running a multiple offense behind a veteran line led by Kellner (6-1, 220). Wotanik, who broke in as a freshman, threw for 546 yards last year in the wing-T. Jones (5-9, 220) ran for 1,006 yards last year and was second-team All-County. The Eagles could win a couple.
Old Mill Patriots
1998 record: 5-5
Coach: Mike Marcus (second season)
Top players: David Kim, Sr., T-DT; Jason Galloway, Sr., WR-DB; Antoine Cooksey, Sr., WR-LB; Brian Williams, Sr., QB; Mike Tetlow, Sr., C-DL; Montese Hensen, Sr., TE; Kelvin Collins, Jr., TB-LB; Mark Smith, Sr., TB-DB; Antione Edwards, Sr., FB-LB.
Outlook: Talented returnees coupled with a turnout of nearly 120, make the Patriots a Class 4A East sleeper. An All-County DT as a junior, Kim (6-2, 265) is back to anchor both interior lines. A pair of second-team All-County WR-DBs also return, Antoine Cooksey (6-0, 175) and Jason Galloway (5-11, 165). Cooksey and Galloway have speed and quickness that should be complemented by TBs Collins (5-11, 185) and Smith (5-9, 155). Williams (5-11, 190), backup the last two seasons, gets his shot at QB. Marcus also has been impressed with sophomore FB-DN Kerry Blake (6-3, 246). Old Mill faces a big test Friday, a visit to Annapolis. A 7-3 or better and playoff shot.
St. Mary's Saints
1998 record: 1-9
Coach: Mike Codd (career, 3-7)
Top players: Matt Pessagno, Sr., TE-LB; Matt White, Jr., FB-LB; Tony Magnolia, Jr., QB; Joe Thompson, Sr., WB-DE; Kevin Stodd, Sr., DG; Mike Elger, Sr. G-DT; David Donohue, Jr., TB-DB; Tillman Johnson, Sr., DL; Scott Cameron, Sr., G-DG.
Outlook: Codd, in his second chance as Saints coach after nearly 10 years as an assistant at the school, is optimistic, thanks to a veteran defense and an offensive line that averages 220 pounds. Key defensive returnees are LBs Pessagno (6-2, 190) and White (6-0, 190), linemen Stodd (5-10, 200), Elger (6-1, 210), Johnson (6-0, 185) and Cameron (6-0, 190). Senior Kevin Blouin (6-3, 280) and junior Brian Beckner (6-2, 240) beef up the OL for the rugged MIAA A Conference. The Saints could be looking at .500.
1998 record: 4-6
Coach: John Beckman (career: 20-18-1)
Top players: Joe Salsich, Sr., T-DT; Paul Ford, Sr., TB-S; Tom Cleaver, Sr., QB; Ron Staines, Sr., WR; Scott Harrison, Sr. OL-DL; Winthrop Joesting, Sr., OL; Scott MacMullen, Sr., FB-MLB.
Outlook: Beckman said his Admirals "should be better because of our overall size and number of skilled players returning." Salsich (6-4, 240) a second-team All-County, two-way tackle is the big bruiser in the trenches as Severn goes after its first winning season since 1996 (5-4-1). Cleaver (6-0, 175), who threw for more than 1,300 yards and 11 TDs is back at QB as is his favorite target in Staines (6-4, 180) who grabbed 17 passes last fall. Beckman is also counting on a couple juniors, two-way lineman Matt Nicholson (6-1, 205) and WR-DB Mike Houser (5-11, 170).
Severna Park Falcons
1998 record: 5-5
Coach: J. P. Hines (second season)
Top players: David Wagner, Sr., G-MLB; Starke Mueller, Sr., TE-TB-LB; Chris Odom, Sr., QB-DB; Derek Dixon, Sr., TB-DB; Paul Gillette, Sr., WR-DB; Ryan McGarry, Sr., T-WR-DE; Doug Hoffman, Sr., TE-DE; Jeremy Tate, Sr., LB; Brian Sanders, Sr., CB.
Outlook: Wagner (6-0, 200) returns as the main man on what should be a punishing defense. Named The Sun's County Defensive Player of the Year and the Falcons' most-outstanding player, the nearly unblockable Wagner led the team in tackles (111, 30 solo) and had three sacks. Offensively, he is quite a blocker himself at guard. Mueller (6-1, 200), whose versatility will see him spending time catching football from TE or WR or occasionally running it, and Tate (5-9, 175) form a powerful LB unit. CB Sanders (5-9, 165) and DB Gillette (5-8, 165), who will call plays, add to the wealth of defensive talent. Dixon (5-9, 185), a mid-year transfer from Riverdale Baptist who went on to be an All-County baseball OF, could be one of the county's best. Odom (697 yards, seven TDs) returns at QB. At least a winning season, with the potential to win the region.
1998 record: 4-6
Coach: Russ Meyers (career: 16-24)
Top players: Brian Armstrong, Sr., RB-LB; Pat Dowling, St. RB-LB; Jesse Vandevort, Sr., RB-LB; Eric Harris, Sr., RB-DB; Billy Knuckols, Sr., QB-LB.
Outlook: Meyers doesn't have a lot of size but is counting on depth and athletic ability. "I think we can be competitive in the new schedule playing the 4A schools [Annapolis, Arundel North County and Old Mill]," said Meyers, who is starting his fifth season in Harwood with his best turnout. Armstrong (6-0, 190) is a third-year starter, and Dowling (6-0, 195) ran for nearly 400 yards and two TDs as a junior. Dowling is also a standout at LB, with Armstrong and Vandevort (5-10, 175). Southern is now the county's only Class 2A school, and Meyers hopes his team's athletic ability can overcome the weekly pounding it may take from the larger schools.
South River Seahawks
1998 record: 4-6
Coach: Dave Summey (career: 95-106-1)
Top players: Jeff Donohue, Sr., RB-DB; Bruce Lee, Sr., RB-DB; Andrew Burtnick, Sr., FB-LB; Joe Buser, Sr., T-DL; Glenn Davis, Sr., TE-DE: Mike Graham, Jr., QB-PK-PT; Lucas Jamerson, Sr. T-DT; Matt O'Neal, Jr., TE-DE; Justin Markman, Sr., C-NG; Jonathan Jones, Sr., RB-S.
Outlook: Summey is five wins from becoming the county's third coach to win 100 and lose 100 games, as his Seahawks move from Class 2A to 3A. "You could say we're still 2A in varsity football but 3A in numbers," said Summey, now in his 11th season in Edgewater and 21st in the county. With 500 freshmen and 500 sophomores coming into South River this year, the Hawks anticipate moving to 4A in a couple years. Summey is hoping for a good season based on a slew of returning seniors, including RBs Donohue (5-10, 160) and Lee (5-9, 175). They combined for nearly 700 yards and seven rushing TDs last season. Graham (6-1, 170), who will also handle place-kicking and punting chores, steps in at QB. Buser (6-3, 250) and Markman (6-1, 275) give the Hawks bulk on the offensive and defensive lines.
Pub Date: 9/02/99