It's that time of year, once described by the late Hall of Famer Bill Veeck as "the true harbinger of spring -- not crocuses or swallows returning to Capistrano, but the sound of a bat on a ball," beckoningthe Prophet back to his crystal ball.
After a week off while the high schoolers moved from the gyms outside to play baseball, softball, tennis and that game with the crab net, lacrosse, the rage of a sage is back to bring in the third high school sports season of the year.
It's no secret to most of you who have followed the Prophet for the last 13 years that baseball is his favorite sport. Everybody has afavorite, including the Prophet, but it's still early to get a read on those county baseball teams, so the sage is going to open with a bunch of lacrosse games.
Prophet Pat begins the spring campaign with an overall record of 130-60 (.684 percentage) through the fall and winter sports seasons. To say that the sage is anxious to get at it, is an understatement.
Let's start with a very early crucial game in Class 4A Region IV in boys lacrosse.
(Last year's records in parentheses)
Arundel (8-6) at Annapolis (12-5), 7:30 p.m. Friday.
It's only the season opener for both teams, but a very important contest nonetheless because this one matches two teams thatfigure to be contenders in the Class 4A Region IV playoffs.
Both teams start the '91 campaign with deep midfields and coaches who knoweach other as well as they know themselves. Annapolis coach Dan Hartpreviously coached for about a decade at Meade while Arundel coach Clint Gosnell begins his 16th season at the helm of the Wildcats.
Last season, host Annapolis went 12-5 overall, advancing to the state final where the Panthers lost to powerful Dulaney of Baltimore County. Returning to the championship game is a Panther goal and not an unrealistic one as Hart begins his third season with a strong returning nucleus, especially in the midfield.
Hart has eight middies back from last year's squad, including senior star Christian Boone. Anothersenior, Chris Turner, who scored 17 goals and assisted on 21 others, is back to anchor the attack.
Gosnell, the Anne Arundel County Sun Coach of the Year in 1981 and 1989 has a comparably deep midfield.Senior Jeff Farr, who had 19 goals and 15 assists last spring, leadsthe Wildcat middies.
Annapolis appears to have the edge on attackwith more experience, but Arundel may have the edge in the net with senior Travis Loving who rejected 149 shots last spring. Hart is not sure yet who his starting goalie will be but senior Chris Stauder might get the nod.
Yes, it's two evenly matched teams in a very important game. So in keeping with his proven theory that the edge should go to the home team in such games, the Prophet says . . .
Annapolis plus 1 over Arundel.
John Carroll (12-4) vs. St. Mary's (12-4), 3:45 p.m. Friday at Weems Whelan Field in Annapolis.
It's hello tothe Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference and the big leaguesfor defending MSA BB Conference finalist John Carroll of Harford County.
John Carroll had a fine season last year but that was in the BB Conference, which is like night and day in comparison to the best league on the East Coast -- the MSA A Conference. And year in and year out, Coach Jim Moorhead's Saints of St. Mary's are right there among the elite in the A Conference.
Last year, the Saints went 12-4 overall in the rugged league and return three of the nation's top highschool players in seniors Rob Chomo, David Jones and Chris Brown. All three are headed to Division I schools on stick scholarships.
Chomo, who tallied 42 goals with 21 assists last year, may be the metroarea's best attackman and is headed for the University of Maryland.
Jones may very well be the best defenseman in the area and is another in a long list of big sticks honed by Moorhead, the former Johns Hopkins All-American who is in his 12th season as head coach at St. Mary's. The University of Virginia has landed Jones.
In the cage, the Saints have a stellar performer in Brown who will take his gear toNorth Carolina next fall.
After that trio, Moorhead tries to givethe impression that he lacks experience, but we all know that at St.Mary's the boys had sticks in their cradles from birth. And when youstart practicing in January, as the Saints do, forget that inexperience stuff.
St. Mary's will be typical St. Mary's -- among the top five teams in the metro area and probably the best in the county.
The Prophet is afraid that it's going to be a long afternoon for the northern visitors on the Saints' cozy Weems Whelan Field where the home team knows the location of every divot and hole.
St. Mary's plus 4 over John Carroll.
Old Mill (2-10) at Severna Park (15-0), 5 p.m. Friday.
Chalk up No. 51 in succession for thosehome-team Falcons who will pick up where they left off.