If the remains of Hurricane Floyd don't rain on Swarthmore's parade tonight, then the Johns Hopkins football team will try to do the honors.
When the Garnet Tide (1-0) meets the Blue Jays (1-0) at 7, it will be accompanied by about as much national attention as a Division III program can get. The season-opening win over Oberlin -- a dominant, 42-6 showing -- garnered the attention of such media outlets as the New York Times and Sports Illustrated.
But anyone looking for an epic clash may feel lost at Homewood Field. Swarthmore's win ended a 28-game losing streak that nearly covered three seasons. During that time, Johns Hopkins has moved toward the top of the Centennial Conference, handing the Garnet Tide a pair of thumpings (73-0 and 42-0) in the process.
Still, with Swarthmore seemingly more confident than in years past, Hopkins coach Jim Margraff said the game presents challenges. He hopes that by jumping on the Tide early, his team can dispel any notions of an upset.
"They're much improved from last season," Margraff said. "What we want to do is get out to a fast start and show that we're a good football program."
The coverage of the Garnet Tide has focused on the Pennsylvania school's emphasis on academics, with alumni such as author James Michener and former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis.
Because he coaches at another well-respected university, however, Margraff is skeptical of the notion that a school's players must skimp on studying in order to thrive on the field.
"We're a good academic institution, too," he said. "We don't have to make news that other way."
Last year, JHU finished 7-3, second only to Western Maryland in the Centennial Conference. With the NCAA playoffs expanding to 28 teams, with at-large bids part of the mix, the Blue Jays entered the season with hopes of making the postseason for the first time.
The Blue Jays opened with a 31-14 win over Washington and Lee. As it did last season, the offense operated smoothly, with Adam Gentile running for 180 yards on 25 carries. Gentile, who was the first JHU player to run for 1,000 yards in a season, scored two touchdowns.
On the other hand, the defense had its struggles, allowing Generals quarterback Christian Batcheller to complete 23 of 34 passes for 255 yards. Plus, the defensive unit's star, senior lineman Greg Gorla, was lost for the season when he tore a biceps tendon.
"I don't think we've reached that point," Margraff said when asked if his team was ready to challenge for a league title.
Looking for its first NCAA appearance, the Loyola women's team received an indication that the milestone is possible this fall. The Greyhounds (3-1), in their eighth season of existence, stunned then-No. 20 Tennessee, 1-0, earlier this week in Knoxville.
The win was Loyola's first over a ranked opponent and a healthy follow-up to a 2-0 loss on Sept. 7 to current No. 20 Richmond. During that game, Loyola felt that it had played even with the Spiders. "We felt that we were there," coach Joe Mallia said.
Going into the Tennessee game, he and his staff looked to be respectable, win or lose: "It felt that it would be a game with big impact for our players. It would ingrain the fact that we're as good as we'd been playing," he said.
The Greyhounds, picked to finish second in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference to two-time defending champion Fairfield, beat the Volunteers when sophomore midfielder Naura Groarke scored the game's only goal in the 43rd minute.
Mallia said he received quite a few congratulatory calls on the Tuesday night before the team flew back to Baltimore. The only bad news out of the game was the knee injury to junior midfielder Kathleen Shields, who may be out for the rest of the season.
"She is by far our No. 1 player," Mallia said, "the one with the most accolades. But we feel that we can lose one player and move on. We'll get by it."
The Greyhounds will play Manhattan tomorrow.
The UMBC men's team is also doing well, with its finest start since 1993. Led by Ty Ingram and Giuliano Celenza, the Retrievers (4-0) are not only scoring well, but defending strongly. The team has not given up a goal in 356 minutes and 50 seconds.
Johns Hopkins had its impending clash with No. 11-ranked Rowan cancelled because of Hurricane Floyd, but the Blue Jays moved up to No. 4 in the Division III national rankings. It's the highest spot for Hopkins since a brief stop at No. 2 during the 1997 season.
Hopkins and Salisbury State each is inducting a number of former players into its Hall of Fame. The Blue Jays are honoring Tom Ahern, '63; Craig Brooks, '86; Bill Kinling, '50, and Heather Klink, '88. The Sea Gulls will hand out laurels to Anita Gruss, '78, and Lee Wright, '84. Navy tennis player Mitchell Koch qualified for the national clay court championships, scheduled to begin Thursday and continue through Sept. 26. Western Maryland sophomores Jill Krebs, Jayne Karolow and Diana Pool took the first three spots in the Shepherd College cross-country invitational in Shepherdstown, W.Va., last weekend. It was the first 1-2-3 finish in Green Terror cross country history. Towson associate athletic director Debby DeAngelis was selected to serve as a juror for rowing at next summer's Sydney Olympics. The Western Maryland football team was ranked No. 7 in the first week of the AFCA football poll for Divsion III.
Pub Date: 9/17/99