Dave Rigot is tired of the stereotypes.
"Everybody keeps saying Glen Burnie is a ball-control team. We throw the football all over theplace," said the 15-year coach, trying to relax in his office after rain had shortened a morning practice.
"It aggravates me when you get stuck with these damn labels, and people keep perpetuating them because they don't know any better."
OK, so Glen Burnie runs a balanced offense.
Is that enough to elevate the Gophers above the middle of the 4A League pack?
"Everybody focuses on offense, but defense is what wins championships," he said.
"Everyone wants to know who your great running back is, but I'll tell you what, we have to play tough, hard-nosed defense if we're going to be a good football team."
The Gophers certainly were a good football team last year -- good enough to win six of their first seven games. But an 0-3 skid to close the season left them without a playoff berth.
The defense Rigot speaks of lost All-County linebackers William Dorsey and John Spencer (second team), important cogs in the 5-2 defense.
In all, Glen Burnie was stripped of "eight or ninestarters" from last season, Rigot said.
That list includes quarterback Carlton Ash, who is replaced by senior Dave Lanham.
"They have a lot of similarities," Rigot said, comparing the two signal-callers. "They have good leadership skills. They like having the responsibility of leading the team. It's like having a coach on the field."
Rigot admires Lanham's speed, which fits in nicely on a team that has a better chance of running around opponents than over them.
"We had one kid over 200 pounds who started for us last season, and it's been that way for the last couple of years," Rigot said. "We haven't had a whole lot of size, but these fellas have worked hard for us. They're tough kids."
Among the fastest Gophers is senior running back Alphonso Generette, the county champion last year in the 100- and 200-meter --es for the track team. He joins a host of candidates trying to succeed Andy Baldwin and Dennis White in the backfield.
So how does Glen Burnie fit into the crowded 4A picture?
"I don't go into any season thinking one team is better than any other," Rigot said. "If you do that, you're giving a message to your kids. I think everybody's tough.
"I know it's a cliche and everybody says it, but I really believe you play one game at a time. We certainly can't be thinking about playing Annapolis, Old Mill and Severna Park when we start out with DuVal. We're trying to get ready for them."
Rigot is trying to ignore talk of wins and losses.
And he certainly has no interest in comparing past teams to this fall's entry.
"That's not important. What's important is the group of kids I have right here today and where they're going to go," he said.
"I don't want to pit these kids against each other. I don't think that's fair. These are just kids -- 15-, 16-, 17-year-old kids, and they're out there working the hardest they can.
"Everyone's prepared to go out. They all seem to want to play football."
. . . in brief
School mascot: Gophers
School colors: Red and white
Name of field/stadium: "Pop" Whalen Field
Address: Old Annapolis Road, Glen Burnie, Md. 21061
Phone number: 761-8950
Principal: Midgie Sledge
Athletic director: Terry Bogle
Cheerleading adviser: Mary White
Marching band director: Fred Probeck
School enrollment: 1,767