The Towson football team graduated three three-year starters on the offensive line. All of the secondary and the defensive line, a unit that accounted for 44 of a school-record 48 sacks, have also moved on.
That is why it is no surprise that for much of Towson's annual Black and Gold spring game yesterday, longtime Tigers coach Gordy Combs had his eyes on the men up front.
"I have been happy with how productive they have been over the last four weeks," said Combs, whose team posted its second straight 7-4 season this past fall. "Our offensive line has started to jell during the last couple of weeks.
"I also feel good about our defensive line. We have developed some young guys."
The only touchdown of the game, which the gold team won by 7-3, came in the third quarter when junior Kris Blake hit classmate Brandon White (Old Mill) for a 60-yard touchdown pass. White wrestled the ball away from sophomore defensive back Chris Riley.
Blake lost his starting job to Val Troiani toward the end of last season, but he looked impressive yesterday, hitting sophomore Ben Lightner for a 65-yard pass, senior Malwan Johnson (Meade) for a 62-yarder and White on a 40-yard strike along the sideline.
"It is always good to have depth at the quarterback position, which is what we have," said Combs, who was also pleased with the play of backup sophomore quarterback Jay Amer.
Senior tailback Noah Read, a first-team All-Patriot League selection after rushing for a league-high 1,422 yards, was instrumental in the black squad's scoring drive.
Read took a handoff from starter Troiani and rambled for 20 yards to start the drive. He then ran 23 yards before being caught from behind by senior defensive back Darnell Evans. After a Read touchdown was called back because of a holding penalty, senior Ed Kulic kicked a 28-yard field goal.
"Tailback is one of our deepest positions, but Noah will get the bulk of the work," Combs said.
On defense, which returns two starters in linebackers Sean Hendricks and Rusty McKinney, Combs praised senior Sporty Evans, who will anchor the secondary, and sophomore cornerback Tre Willis (one interception yesterday).
Sophomores Neal Regan and Jason Troilo looked impressive on the black squad's defense.