Meade suffered a seven-game losing streak en route to a 1-9 season in 1990, and it immediately will be put through the wringer in 1991.
But that's just the way coach Hayse Henderson wants it.
"I think we need to start the season with a game that will show us where we stand. Starting off with one of the best teams in the state (Springbrook of Montgomery County) should let the kids know if theycan play," he said.
The second-year mentor has a quiet confidenceabout his team this year, citing a senior-dominated roster as a cause for a slight case of optimism.
"It's nice to have a lot of seniors on the team. We have a lot of guys who have a lot of game experience under their belts, and that should help us out a lot," he said.
This season, Meade once again will use the wishbone offense -- despite its unpopularity among some Mustangs fans.
"Turnovers really did us in last year, but it wasn't because of the 'bone like a lot of people thought. We were just fumbling all of the time, even in the open field. The whole system was new to the kids. It's not something that this area is used to," said Henderson.
Senior John Oxendine again will direct the Mustangs' offense, while classmate Derrick Barr (school record holder in the high jump) and sophomore Kenny Walker will be assigned ball-carrying duties. Gerald Johns probably will get the nod at split end.
"I'm pretty confident in our backfield this year. They're a veteran group, and it's always a plus to have experience at quarterback. It brings a stabilizing effect to the offense," said Henderson.
Two-way tackle Alfred Harris and tight end Jaki Beasley(both seniors) have all but secured spots on the offensive line, with open competition for the remaining slots.
Henderson returns fourseniors on defense, including third-year defensive back Kevin Powell.
Jay Twasdowski and Marshall Naymick are most likely to join Powell in the secondary, with Barr's name being thrown in to receive additional action. Harris and Kevin King are being touted as the pillars of the defense.
"Our tackles will be the strength of our 52 defense," said Henderson. "We'll be switching here and there to a 6-1 or a 5-3 set-up at times."
Henderson also noted that newcomers Harold Clark (junior linebacker) and first-year senior Arthur Buckley (defensive end) will be healthy additions to his defensive unit.
Rick Shirley will take over the punting and place-kicking chores, and junior Clarence Peacock will resume his kickoff duties.
Shirley has some big shoes to fill, as the graduated Quinn Huggins earned All-County honors in 1990, averaging an unofficial county-record 46.6 yards per punt, including 68- and 65-yard blasts against Glen Burnie.
Said Henderson, "I'm looking forward to a good season. Size-wise, we definitely won't be the biggest team around, but I'd say we're about average. I think that may work in our favor, because our team is a lot quicker than last year."
. . . in brief
School mascot: Mustangs
School colors: Brown and gold
Name of field/stadium: Riffenburg Stadium
Address: Clark Road, Fort Meade, Md. 20755
Phone number: 674-7710
Principal: Stanley Stawas Jr.
Athletic director: Ralph Beachley
Cheerleader adviser: Le'Retta Rushing
Marching band director: John Collins
School enrollment: 1,606