Ricky Diggs, the new football coach at Morgan State, has the luxury of only two more weeks of preparation before the Bears play their opener against North Carolina A&T at Hughes Stadium Aug. 31. Heading his agenda is installing an offense that combines the run-and-shoot and wishbone, then finding someone to run it.
Quarterback was a sore spot in 1990, when the Bears went 1-10, leading to coach Ed Wyche's release. Four youngsters took snaps, none too successfully.
Orlando Persell, a 6-foot-3 sophomore from Detroit, won the position by default during spring practice this year. Another sophomore, David Partin, led all quarterbacks with 831 yards passing in 1990, but missed the spring semester. Maurice Chase, yet another sophomore who got a look in 1990, was injured in spring practice.
The depth chart also lists three freshmen, the most familiar being Donte Carter, who was an honorable mention All-Metro in 1989 for Carver High. He spent last year at the new Community College of Baltimore.
One visible improvement at Morgan State is the completion of the first phase of the renovation of Hughes Stadium. A new track, scoreboard and press box are still in the planning stages, but the stands on both sides of the field have been redone.
* Peter Rono is doing his best to prove he wasn't a one-day wonder at the 1988 Olympics.
The Mount St. Mary's senior took the 1,500 meters in Seoul, but since has done little to distinguish himself. He hasn't won as much as an NCAA title, let alone score another major victory on the international track and field scene.
He is still in the picture, however. Rono placed third at the Kenyan trials for the world championships, thus qualifying for the big meet in Tokyo Aug. 24 to Sept. 1. He'll still be a long shot in Japan, where the 1,500 favorite is Noureddine Morceli, a 21-year-old from Algeria by way of Riverside (Calif.) Junior College.
Rono, by the way, plans to run cross country for the Mount this fall. He's the early favorite for the Maryland Colleges Championships at College Park Oct. 12. The meet is open to athletes from all of the state's junior and four-year colleges.
* The state's two most visible women's soccer programs enter the preseason with new coaches.
April Heinrichs, captain of the U.S. women's national team and maybe the best American women's player ever, will be charged with upgrading Maryland in the demanding Atlantic Coast Conference. She's familiar with the league's legacy; as a player, she helped begin North Carolina's national dominance and still holds the NCAA record of 225 career points.
Heinrichs coached at Princeton last year, when Alden Shattuck directed both the men's and women's teams at Maryland.
Jamie Watson, the new boss at UMBC, doesn't have Heinrichs' playing resume, but she's more familiar to locals. A multi-sport standout at Dulaney High in the early 1980s, Watson then helped Massachusetts to several Final Four appearances. She has coached collegiately at Goucher, and also directed high school teams at Maryvale Prep and Dulaney.
* The two most highly touted players in the Centennial Football Conference do their work in state.
Western Maryland running back Eric Frees and Johns Hopkins defensive back Brian Hepting are on The Sporting News Division III preseason All-America team. Frees already has 3,736 yards rushing, and is zeroing in on the state record of 4,179, set by Navy's Napoleon McCallum in 1985. Hepting, out of Loyola High, holds the Hopkins record for career interceptions, 17.
The 100th anniversary of Western Maryland football climaxes Nov. 16, when Hopkins goes to Westminster.