Annapolis Area Christian School is among the private schools in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association and Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland that have decided to return to athletics this fall.
Here is what to expect from each of its fall varsity sports programs:
For the last three years, AACS has been “blessed” to have consistency with Ryan Idleman as its starter under center. Now, the quarterback position is open to three candidates: senior Jonathan Collins and two freshmen, Aaron Rhodes and Anthony Wiseman.
With that being said, the Eagles will be limited in what they’ll be able to do with the ball, but they still intend to run a spread offense.
“The great thing about that is our boys, we’re excited just to have those two games," coach Mike Lynn said. "It’s the same opponent. It’s one of our rivals. It’s not hard to get them up for that game — I’m pretty sure St. John’s Catholic Prep gets up for it as well.”
As for special teams, Lynn feels AACS is in confident hands with seven-year coaches Shawn Hunter and Chris Hagen. The unit has always been strong and was incorporated into Eagles practices this year from the beginning.
COACH: Mike Lynn, seventh year
KEY PLAYERS: Seniors Will Diggs (WR/LB), Ty Stein (TE/LB) and Jaylon Carver (WR/DB); juniors Josh Hardy (DE/TE) and Warren Burris (WR/DB); sophomores Andrew Fatusin (OL/DL) and Zephaniah Wade (OL/DL).
RETURNING STARTERS: 7
GAME(S) TO WATCH: at St. John’s Catholic Prep (Nov. 6); vs. St. John’s Catholic Prep (Nov. 21).
EXPECTATIONS: “We are expecting to grow as a program on and off the field,” Lynn said. “A successful season for us is that our players continue to develop as Christians, academically and athletically.”
To boys soccer coach Vaughn Ridings, the strength and number of games and lack of playoffs doesn’t matter this year as much as the desire to compete, especially for one another.
“We want to be able to compete based on an inward desire and passion our players have for the game and the tight camaraderie for each other," Ridings said. "It has therefore been the greatest irony that I feel that this is the most competitive, talented, and deep teams I have coached at AACS to date.”
COACH: Vaughn Ridings, seventh year
KEY PLAYERS: Seniors Jaden Rollins (F), Donnie Frayer (F), Cole Parker (F), Sean Wood (D) and Larry Abayomi (D); sophomore Joey Schultz (M).
GAME(S) TO WATCH: vs. Concordia Prep, Nov. 14: “Concordia because they are three-time finalists,” Ridings said. "We want to see how we would have measured up to them in a regular season.”
EXPECTATIONS: “We are looking to use this time well," Ridings said. "Although not having formal competition and playoffs is surely a bummer, we have been given ample time to expand and increase our team’s abilities with regards to how we play together. It has been tremendously helpful. We know that the work done this year will compound in years to come, let alone the effects it has had this year. We are excited for our future.”
Without a chance to try again for the IAAM C1 Conference title, the Eagles girls soccer team instead look to test its mettle against opponents more challenging in the B Conference, as well as its typical rivals.
KEY PLAYERS: Seniors Zoe Lemke (F), Taylor Grollman (GK), Lilly Hyre (F/M), Tracy Grollman (M) and Kyra Hudd (M); juniors Te’se Shabazz (D) and Paige Rice (D).
RETURNING STARTERS: 9
GAME(S) TO WATCH: “As cliche as it might sound, I am looking forward to any and all games we have since our season is shorter this year,” Sproul said. "Games against B Conference schools will give us a good challenge. Games against our C1 Conference opponents will give us a good idea of how we would have ranked against them in a regular conference schedule. The team is just overall excited to have the opportunity to play this fall.”
EXPECTATIONS: “My expectations for the team are no different than any other year. I expect the team to work hard every single day and always play together as one unit,” Sproul said. “I expect them to display great sportsmanship and always play ‘All for Him.’ ”
To be successful in this unusual season, the goals of the Eagles field hockey team is to grow and learn from each game and to become one as a unit.
KEY PLAYERS: Seniors Lexie Steele (M) and Ellie Lenhart (D); juniors Anna McCue (M), McKenna Steinau (F) and Laine Rogers (F).
RETURNING STARTERS: 6
GAME(S) TO WATCH: “I am most looking forward to our senior game when we can put the spotlight on our three seniors that have put a lot of hard work into this program and have stuck with it during such a crazy season," Zimmerman said.
EXPECTATIONS: “That we become a support system for each other on and off the field," Zimmerman said.
With an unusual season aheadand having to play outside, coach Cliff Rickard credits his athletic director Josiah Wolf for having the foresight to build three athletic courts to match.
“To be able to play in competitive games,” the coach said, “is a bonus.”
COACH: Cliff Rickard, first year
KEY PLAYERS: Seniors Katie Pilcher (S), Keri Anderson (L) and Micah Cartwright (MB); junior Avery Walker (OH); sophomore Chloe Williams (OH); freshmen Malani Martin (OH) and Madison Sidney (S).
RETURNING STARTERS: 3
GAME(S) TO WATCH: vs. Mount de Sales, Nov. 7.
EXPECTATIONS: “I expect our team to always try harder, never give up, and play for Him,” Rickard said.
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
Though coach Matt Swanson said there is no replacing the four runners that graduated from last year’s squad, the Eagles present much more depth than has existed in years. Ultimately, the coach hopes his team grows in character while developing into better runners.
COACH: Matt Swanson, third year
KEY PLAYERS: Seniors Caleb Bos and Max Riith; juniors Sam Woody, Daniel Whaley and Troy Sarchiapone; sophomores Eric Johnson and Noland Guercio.
RETURNING STARTERS: 3
GAME(S) TO WATCH: “We are really excited for our race on [Oct. 31] with St. Mary’s," Swanson said. "They have a really good squad. They are going to give a great competition. It should be a great race. We are looking forward to improving significantly against St. Mary’s.”
EXPECTATIONS: “We have had a great season of training and the future looks bright for our team. Senior Caleb Bos joined the team and the sky is really the limit for him this season," Swanson said. "We’re really looking forward to seeing what he and Eric Johnson are able to do against St. Mary’s and John Carroll. Senior captain Max Riith has had an outstanding offseason and has been an outstanding team leader. He has worked so hard, we are hoping to see him breakout and drop significant time over the coming weeks.”
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
With so much time apart between teammates, coach Emily Yousefi wants her runners to learn a different lesson this year.
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“I want this to be a year where my girls grow in their relationships with each other,” Yousefi said, "and learn the importance of hard work and dedication to excellence even without the instant gratification of championship titles and season records.”
COACH: Emily Yousefi, fourth year
KEY PLAYERS: Senior Madison Butler; sophomores Meadow Mackey, Evelyn Moss and Katie Hinton; freshman Elizabeth Whitney.
RETURNING STARTERS: 5
GAME(S) TO WATCH: vs. Rockbridge Academy, Nov. 6: “It will be a small meet with two of the smaller, local Christian schools in the area,” Yousefi said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to race with them.”
EXPECTATIONS: “My expectations for this season have already been surpassed," Yousefi said. "I’m thrilled my girls get the chance to race and demonstrate the hard work they have been putting in since June.”