Is football making a comeback in the inner city?
In recent years, coaches at some city schools have had to delay the start of practice and others have had to limit their practices because of a shortage of players. But this summer, there seems to be a resurgence of interest.
"The game is the safest it's ever been for a long time," said Patterson coach Roger Wrenn, who saw an increase from about 30 players for opening day last season to about 40 this season. "For a while, football had a reputation of being dangerous. Finally, coaches, officials and the rule makers addressed the problem.
"They made some equipment changes and promoted safety. Last year was the first there wasn't a football-related death in high school since they began keeping statistics in 1931. Plus a lot of people are doing some wide-open things with passing and run and shoot; fun things. I hope those are some of the reasons," Wrenn added.
Mervo coach John Blake has also seen an increase, and he also has his opinion on the improved turnout.
"We had spring football, and during the summer I sent out letters, and I believe a lot of kids shared them with their friends," said Blake, who had 61 players for the second day of practice, compared to 45 last year. "We have a bigger pool of talent to choose from, and we may not have to play as many people both ways."
Alas, some schools are still having problems. Dunbar and Northwestern reported first-day turnouts of less than 20. Fortunately, both schools open their seasons the third week of September, so there is time to recruit more players.
It doesn't seem to matter when Southern and Dunbar play basketball, the atmosphere is the same -- intensity, great basketball and overflow crowds.
The two teams met in the finale of the Craig Cromwell Basketball League at Madison Recreation Center Friday night. Spectators filled the bleachers an hour before the game started, and those who couldn't get seats stood outside the fences at each of the courts to get a glimpse of Baltimore's best high school players.
Dunbar's roster included Michael Lloyd, Donta Bright and Keith Booth, first-team All-Metro selections last winter by The Sun. Southern's roster included Kwame Evans, another first-team All-Metro pick last winter, as well as highly touted big man Abdul Brown and point guard Damon Cason.
Dunbar won, 59-44, but it was guard Diego Jones, the sixth man on last season's championship team, who sparked the Poets. Jones scored 22 points, including a couple of key three-pointers.
The victory left Dunbar, Southern and Walbrook each with a 11-2 record (there are no playoffs). Dunbar won the title by virtue of its victories over Walbrook and Southern. Southern finished second and Walbrook third. St. Frances (8-5) finished fourth and Cardinal Gibbons (8-5) fifth.
Wilde Lake senior Hamisi Amani-Dove has been named to the United States Youth Soccer Association Region I Olympic Devlopment under-17 1/2 team after tryouts at the University of Richmond last month.
Amani-Dove's selection virtually assures his participation with the team in Dallas in late November.
Amani-Dove played for the USYSA under-20 national team in British Columbia against Canada and Mexico last month.
In ceremonies Friday night, the Upton Softball Complex in Severn -- site of the annual state finals -- was officially renamed Ronald M. Randazzo Park in honor of the Glen Burnie soldier killed in action during the Persian Gulf war.
Randazzo, 24, an Army sergeant and 1985 graduate of Glen Burnie High School, was killed Feb. 20 while patrolling the Saudi Arabia-Iraq border.
Randazzo was a former player, coach and umpire in the Glen Burnie Boys Baseball (GBBB) organization.
Overtime: Annapolis High will name its football field after the late Al Laramore in ceremonies before the season opener against Randallstown Sept. 6. Laramore, who suffered a fatal heart attack in January 1989, is the only Maryland high school coach to win state titles in football, basketball and lacrosse. . . . Sarah Jane Quinn has been named Baltimore County's supervisor of physical education and athletics, replacing Ron Belinko, who was promoted to coordinator of physical education and athletics. . . . When Georgia Tech opens defense of its national title tomorrow in the Kickoff Classic against Penn State, Jamal Cox, the freshman linebacker from Gilman, will be there. Cox, The Sun's 1990 Defensive Player of the Year, is a second-string inside linebacker for the Yellow Jackets. . . . Glen Burnie is accepting written applications for head and assistant coaches in girls basketball. Call Terry Bogle at 761-8950 (school) or 987-4749. . . . Broadneck needs a head coach for softball. Call Kevin McMullen at (301) 757-1300 (school) or 544-3183.