For the past four years, early autumn has not have been the best of times for Coach Buddy Hepfer and his Wildcats
During that time span, his Arundel High School football team has gone 17-23 and been plagued by slow starts.
And with local media scurrying around looking to get the lowdown on teams even before the coaching staff can get a bead on what it has, any coach could be forgiven for being a little leery about predicting the future.
"I don't know, I really just don't know," said the 15-year veteran after an intense preseason practice.
"At the moment, a lot of things are still up in the air," Hepfer said. "We have somany young kids out here this year. We've just recently gotten the defense together, and we're still getting the offense together. There are a lot of question marks there, especially in the backfield."
The one name that Hepfer mentions as a certainty to see prime time is three-year starter Matt Henson. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound co-captain will man the starting jobs at both fullback and linebacker.
"Matt isa real good all-around ballplayer," said Hepfer. "It's hard to replace someone like (All-County) Rodney Stevens, but I think Matt is ready to step forward. The kids look to him for leadership. I'm expectingsome good things from him this year."
Last season, Stevens rushedfor nearly 900 yards and seven touchdowns, caught 12 passes for 205 yards and four touchdowns, and kicked 10 extra-points and a field goal, totaling 79 points.
On the offensive line, Hepfer will look forseniors Brett D'Camera, Russell Sigley and junior Greg Booth to openholes for Henson and company. D'Camera, a third-year player, will more than likely line up at right guard, while Sigley and Booth will man the center and offensive tackle positions, respectively.
Junior Danny Doffermyre is first on the depth chart at offensive end.
Quarterback remains unsettled for the moment, as Hepfer experiments withthree or four different candidates, including last year's starter Jeff Bayne, a senior who also was the punter.
"Another problem our team has is size," the coach said. "We just haven't been able to come up with the horses like Old Mill and Severna Park do every year. I don't know, maybe it's something in the water that they drink at those schools. I wish my players could get hold of some."
Hepfer sounds a bit more optimistic about his defense. Henson, Vince Squire, Monte Lomax, Trevor McNamara, George Epps and Desi Lomax have just about locked down starting assignments.
Monte Lomax (senior) and Epps (junior) will join Henson at the linebacker spots, while Squire (senior) will play defensive ends. Monte's twin brother, Desi, is slated to start at safety, while McNamara will probably play left corner back.
"If we have a strong point, I think it'll be the defense," said Hepfer.
Hepfer doesn't mention his team among the 4A League favorites.
"I'd say the favorites to win the league are Severna Park and OldMill," said Hepfer.
"But don't count North County out. Even though they played just one 4A county team, they still had a good year. And if you want to look out for a sleeper, watch for Broadneck. They have a lot of people back and they might wind up surprising a lot of people by the end of the season."
. . . in brief
School nickname: Wildcats
School colors: Kelly green and white
Name of field/stadium: Carroll Field
Address: 1001 Annapolis Road, Gambrills, Md. 21054
Phone number: 674-6500
Principal: Kenneth Catlin
Athletic director: Bernie Walter
Cheerleading adviser: Stella Marvel
Marching band director: Phillip Butts
School enrollment: 1,620