As one of two prospective quarterbacks on Northeast's football team,senior K.C. Murphy hopes he and the Eagles can counter the cliche "expect the unexpected."
"Last year, we expected to win three games -- and we did," said Murphy, one of nine returning starters off the 3-7 squad of a year ago.
The Eagles have, in fact, gone with that record for the past two seasons.
Despite a modest turnout of 43 players for the first day of practice this season, the Eagles expect more -- and plan on getting it.
"We've got a little more experience this year. We expect at least a .500 season -- we might even win five to seven ballgames," said Murphy.
"Our line seems to be bigger, we're quicker in the backfield and our defense looks pretty good."
Although Coach Bart Rader also is more positive about this year's team as he heads into his ninth season, he gives a more modest assessment of his club than Murphy.
"There are a few more games where we should be more competitive," said Rader.
Two of those games, Rader hopes, will be the season-openers against Baltimore County's Chesapeake (Sept. 6) and the Eagles' neighbor in Severn, Archbishop Spalding.
Spalding, which is coming off of an 0-10 season, joins Southern, South River and Chesapeake (AA, 1-9 last year) as the only Anne Arundel County contingents on Northeast's schedule.
The Eagles also have added 4A opponent Dulaney of Baltimore County and Howard County's Mount Hebron (2A).
"I think this team always plays to win -- no matter what the scoreboard reads," said Rader. "But last year, we didn't have a team that could come back and win.
"We had a lot of good athletes last year, but this year they have a little more experience."
Three of those athletes are Murphy, Derek Dolch and lineman Rich Spiegel. The trio helped the Eagles' unbeaten Class 2A state champion baseball squad last spring.
Lineman Steve Gorski is entering his third straight season as a starter for the Eagles, and he'll have his work cut out for him.
"As usual, we'll use the wing-T and run the ball, right up the gut,"said Rader. "We'll use our wingback or flanker to block and trap. We'll spread out from time to time when we pass."
Murphy and Dolch are in a hot battle for the quarterback spot -- which was the same story for the two players last year, with Murphy getting the start six times.
The winner probably will have newcomer senior Lamont Miller as a primary target.
A transfer from Ohio, Miller likely will settle in at either running back or wide receiver. But his ability to throw the ball might give Rader other options.
Spiegel should be a big help with Gorski in leading the run-oriented offensive line. He stands 5-foot-11 and is up around 210 pounds.
Joining Spiegel and Gorski are returning veteran linemen Bill Atwell, James Cantor, David Haynie, Keith Winters and Mike Adams.
"I'm planning on keeping about26 (players) on the varsity -- but there isn't much left," said Rader. "We don't have much depth so that's something that can hurt you."
. . . in brief
School nickname: Eagles
School colors: Black and gold
Name of field/stadium: Zastrow Field
Address: 1121 Duvall Highway, Pasadena, Md. 21122
Phone number: 437-6405
Principal: Joseph Carducci
Cheerleading adviser: Brenda McMahon
Marching band director: Ron Shope
Athletic director: Roger Stitt (interim)
School enrollment: 985
League/classification: 3A-2A; 2A