In every league, favorites emerge--3 or 4 of them

September 03, 1991|By Sam Davis

Pick any high school football league in the Baltimore area. Now pick a winner for the 1991 season.

It's not easy, as many area high school coaches and prognosticators are finding as they prepare for the season, which will open this weekend.

Call 1991 the year of uncertainty or just attribute it to parity.

There are favorites in almost every league, but there are three or four of them.

Havre de Grace coach Tom Marron may have summed up the prospects for the season best in speaking of Harford County's season. "This is a year when everybody is saying, 'Wow, maybe we can go 7-3,' " Marron said.

Start with the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference, perhaps the area's toughest league. There are six teams that could challenge for first place.

The 1991 version of the league features the addition of a 10th team -- Lake Clifton -- as well as an expected rebuilding year for one of its perennial powers, Gilman.

Despite the addition, there still won't be postseason playoffs, and the conference winner will remain the team with the best conference mark. The front-runner for that position is Poly, which finished 9-1 last season and returns an experienced lineup. Not far behind could be Forest Park, Loyola, Calvert Hall, City and even newcomer Lake Clifton, which moves up after two straight years in the B Conference championship game.

"You look up and down our conference schedule and it looks like murderers' row," said Mount St. Joseph first-year coach Tim Perry.

The MSA B Conference will feature a wide-open race and a new format.

With Lake Clifton gone, the B Conference has nine teams, so the league has eliminated the two-division setup and the conference championship game. The conference title game, the only one in the area in the past decade, had become popular during the 1980s.

"I always thought that was the neatest thing about the B Conference," said Patterson coach Roger Wrenn. "I've been to every one, whether we were in it or not."

Patterson, which has been in the championship game the past two years, is among the contenders and is led by standout quarterback Buddy Edmond. Mervo, one of the few city schools with a large turnout for summer practice, has also been mentioned along with Edmondson, Dunbar and Northern.

In the MSA C Conference, the defending champions -- St. Mary's, St. Paul's and Severn -- are rebuilding. This has led to speculation that one of the other five teams in the conference, which were a combined 11-30-1 last season, may rise to the top.

If there is an exception in this year of uncertainty/parity, it may be Anne Arundel County's 4A League, where Severna Park is a heavy favorite.

"From what I hear, there's an NFL team in Severna Park and the rest of us will be playing for second place," North County coach Chuck Markiewicz said jokingly.

Defending champion Severna Park has nine returning starters, but league runner-up Old Mill and newcomer North County could cause the Falcons problems.

Baltimore County has restructured its league. Instead of three divisions, it will be broken into two -- 1A-2A and 3A-4A -- and there are plenty of contenders.

Perry Hall could be the favorite in a stronger Baltimore County 3A-4A league, but Gators coach Joe Stoy isn't ready to accept a league championship trophy yet.

"[The league] will be very competitive this season, so we'll just be prepared each week and see what happens," Stoy said.

Defending state Class 4A champion Randallstown has to replace The Sun's 1990 Offensive Player of the Year, running back Larry Washington, but the Rams are expected to contend, along with Dundalk, Dulaney and Woodlawn.

Class 3A schools Catonsville and Kenwood will play in the less physically demanding 1A-2A league. Overlea, a Class 2A school which had been playing in the 3A-4A league, will return to 1A-2A league, where the Falcons will contend along with Chesapeake and Towson.

It should be a three-team race in Harford County, with 1990 state Class 3A runner-up C. Milton Wright, Aberdeen and Edgewood battling it out.

In Howard County, traditional powers Wilde Lake and Oakland Mills again rate as the top contenders. Wilde Lake is coming off its first undefeated season, eighth county championship in the past 11 years and second Class 2A title in the past six seasons.

Of the five schools in Carroll County, Westminster should again be the strongest, although South Carroll is expected to rebound from a 4-6 record. Westminster should be a contender in the Central Maryland Conference, along with Frederick, Linganore and Thomas Johnson. South Carroll is a dark horse.

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