IT IS HERESY for football coaches to look past their next game, but we can. Johns Hopkins and Western Maryland will hook up for their season-ending game Nov. 10, and for the first time since 1981 it's shaping up as something other than the Game of the Weak.
It has been eight years since both teams entered their traditional rivalry with winning records, but the 1990s are looking a whole lot different than the '80s.
Johns Hopkins has won two straight, and it was also very much in its first two games. The Blue Jays play at Ursinus Saturday, then are host to Muhlenberg Oct. 10, and right now those are the two weakest teams in the Centennial Conference. Hopkins has matched its win total of the last two seasons, but it's not enough for first-year coach Jim Margraff.
"Some people are jumping up and down around here, but we're just a 2-2 team," Margraff said. "I didn't come down here to be mediocre. We were as positive as could be in August, but it's a whole lot easier to point out mistakes when you're reviewing film of a win."
In Westminster, the Green Terrors are 3-1, their best start since 1979. Western Maryland last had a winning record in 1981. The current team can match the school's win total of the last five years Saturday, when it travels to Randolph-Macon, a team the Green Terrors have lost to the last two years by a total of three points.
Western Maryland's only loss was a three-pointer to old nemesis Gettysburg, but coach Dale Sprague swears the hard-luck days are over.
"I think we've turned a corner," Sprague said after a convincing 14-3 win over Muhlenberg.
* It's Hall of Fame weekend on the Eastern Shore.
Washington College's list of honorees tomorrow will include the late Lewis Thomas Jacobs (Class of 1929), who exceled in football, basketball and baseball, and Harry Frederick Kabernagel ('51), who played football and helped re-establish lacrosse as a sport in Chestertown.
At Salisbury State tomorrow, the inductees include Walter Potter ('50), who played soccer and basketball; women's basketball standouts Mary Lou Manis ('70) and Gail Patterson ('77); and track sprinter Jeff Polk ('76).
* The Navy soccer team spent the entire month of September on the road, but the Middies play their next seven at Dewey Field, beginning with tomorrow's (7 p.m.) game with Richmond.
There are two other Colonial Athletic Association games in the home stretch, and they're big ones, George Mason coming to Annapolis Oct. 10 and American Oct. 17. Navy is headed to the Patriot League next year, and it wants to make the most of its last year in the CAA, which sends its champion to the NCAA tournament.
UMBC, conversely, doesn't play another East Coast Conference game at home, bad news for a team that's 0-3 in the ECC.
* In junior college soccer, Harford's 3-1 win over Essex last week was the first time that had happened since the former began playing the sport in 1972. Coach Rob Bailey said the negative streak was approaching 20 games.
Essex, meanwhile, has plenty of time to right itself for the postseason, when the goal will be knocking off Montgomery-Rockville, ranked No. 1 in the nation. The Knights play host to Dundalk Saturday (1 p.m.), and there will be an alumni game beforehand. Telephone Dennis Eckard (522-1527) for details.