No matter how far St. Frances' volleyball team might go in the playoffs, the Panthers have plenty to celebrate this season.
Not only did they win their first match in more than five years, but they have posted four wins in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland C Conference. The breakthrough came in a 3-2 win over Glenelg Country School three weeks ago.
"It felt like a whole bunch of relief," Panthers senior Jaquata Scott said. "And this is just the beginning. We're going to keep going."
At 4-5 going into last night's match at Catholic, the Panthers are a strong defensive team with a developing offense.
Scott has been a key player along with hitter Briana Hutchen and setter Shatyra Hawkes as well as Tylar Gattis-McIntyre, the only Panther with Amateur Athletic Union volleyball experience.
Most of these Panthers are used to winning as seven of the 13 players are on the basketball team that has won six straight IAAM A Conference titles.
Coach Nillion Lambert said the Panthers have also gotten a boost from assistant coach Joe Kolar, who played intramural volleyball in college. Kolar is always on the lookout for new drills.
"They're athletes," Kolar said. "I think that was probably the thing that's most exciting is that every time we play, we're going to be able to compete on an athletic level. We're as athletic if not more athletic than every team we play. And they're very competitive. You don't win six basketball titles in a row without being competitive."
Powering the Engineers
With his sizable frame and sprinter's speed, Poly's Antoine Goodson looks more like a linebacker than the prototypical high school quarterback.
To Engineers coach Roger Wrenn, however, the junior this season has been everything he hoped.
Heading into tomorrow night's game against No. 8 Gilman, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Goodson has rushed for 499 yards and 12 touchdowns and has also completed 24 of 35 passes for 365 yards and two scores, with just one interception. In his first season as a full-time starter, Goodson's abilities have helped No. 13 Poly (4-1) average 42 points per game in its four wins.
"A lot of teams would move this kid to tailback or move him to linebacker, because he's a fast, big kid," Wrenn said. "We recognized right away that he was a very powerful runner, and what we do offensively has always been with the quarterback being a running back. He's a magician with the ball."
Now, some big-name colleges, including the likes of Maryland, Temple and Pitt, have begun to take notice. Wrenn said that Goodson, who ran a 4.6 40 at a recent high school combine, has worked hard to improve his passing - something he hopes will allow him to remain behind center at the next level.
"I see myself as a quarterback, to be honest," Goodson said. "I've improved my speed, my footwork and my arm accuracy."
That's a potent combination in the Engineers' spread-option offense, where quick feet and even quicker decisions take precedence.
"The officials finish our games and just say, 'We have trouble figuring out who's got the ball,' " Wrenn said. "We fool our own cameraman quite often."
Bull Run, take 2
Local cross country runners will try once again Saturday to race at the 13th Annual Bull Run at Hereford after the meet was postponed two weeks ago because of heavy rain.
The field is down to 75 schools from the original 120 because many teams had already committed to other meets this weekend, including the Bobcat Invitational and the Manhattan Invitational, which will draw some of the area's best talent to New York City.
The rain date for the Bull Run was in place when official entry forms were sent out in June, said Hereford athletic director Mike Kalisz. Last Saturday was never an option because Hereford was a host site that day for SAT testing.
Kalisz said he did not expect coaches to drop their teams from other meets to come to Hereford.
"This was obviously a delicate situation," he said. "When we sent out the follow-up e-mail, we asked people to honor their obligations [to the other meets]."
With the smaller number of entries, officials considered combining races, but 75 schools gave them enough runners to keep the original four-division varsity format, including the elite races. The event starts at 9 a.m.