Last year was a breakthrough year for Western Maryland College football.
After eight consecutive non-winning season and after Coach Dale Sprague predicted that his team was ready to "turn the corner" forthree seasons, the Green Terrors finally did negotiate the bend. Theteam went 6-3-1 last year and, had it not lost in the regular-seasonfinale to Johns Hopkins, would have won the Centennial Football Conference title.
As it was, Western Maryland (5-2 in CFC) finished one-half game behind Dickinson (5-1-1) in the CFC -- after finishing seventh or eighth the previous six years.
Now the team must prove it wasn't a one-year wonder.
Offensively, the Terrors have one or two holes and acouple of question marks. The biggest question mark is at quarterback, where Todd Leskoski, last year's backup, was expected to duel withsophomore Rich Tedesco and freshmen Jody Goane and Ken Williams.
Tedesco was an unexpected no-show at preseason camp, but his loss wascushioned by the addition of sophomore transfer Paul McCord, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound thrower from Wilmington, Del.
McCord has the size of an NCAA Division I flinger, so it's not surprising that he began his collegiate career at the University of Delaware, one of the nation's top NCAA Division I-AA programs.
No clear-cut winner had emergedin the quarterback derby as of Friday, but last night's scrimmage under the lights at Westminster High against Catholic University was expected to be a big indication.
The biggest hole is at center, where no letter-winners backed up four-year starter Ben Kling, now an assistant coach at WMC.
But plenty of talent returns from an offense that was tops in the CFC in 1990.
Whoever emerges as the starting quarterback will have one of the best small college receivers in the country -- Andy Steckel -- as a primary target.
Tailback Eric Frees -- a preseason all-America who is less than 500 yards away from thestate record, set by Navy's Napoleon McCallum -- and fullback Mike Wheeler return in the backfield. James Martin will shift from defensive back to wingback while North Carroll graduate Robbie Johnson sits out the season.
Only three starters return on defense, but letter-winners are back at every position. The Terrors were much improved on defense last year but still gave up more yards than any other team inthe conference.
Western Maryland was especially vulnerable to therush, and improved line play will be important.