The McDonogh School football team has an orange wooden ladder that stands in the football meeting room.
With it, the team has a set ofgoals set by members and first-year coach Michael Working during thepreseason. Every time they reach a goal this season, they will paintone of the rungs black -- which combined with orange form the school's colors.
"Hopefully we can have it all painted black by the end of the season," said Taylorsville's Tim Yeager, who finds himself in the middleof the goal-oriented team.
Yeager, a 16-year-old junior, is the starting defensive tackle for the Eagles -- who were 1-1 going into yesterday's game against City and have already equaled last season's win output.
"We won our opener against Lake Clifton, 20-6. It was a big win, we have a new attitude this year and everyone is believing in us and, most importantly, we believe in ourselves," Yeager said.
"We feel every game we're in, we can go out and win. Last year, it wasn't like that."
Last season, Yeager mostly played on special teams and saw a little time at linebacker for the 1-9 team. This year, he's been moved to defensive tackle and feels right at home in the middle of the action.
"I really like it there. Playing defensive tackle, you're trying to shut down the middle, whereas playing linebackeryou have to shut down everything," he said.
Working has been pleased with Yeager's effort and likes the brand of football he brings tothe team.
"He's a very intense football player, extremely tough physically, and has done a very good job," the coach said.
"We started him at fullback this year but decided we could use his physical play on defense, and it has worked out well. He's a very unselfish player.
"With our defense, often the defensive tackle sacrifices himself so the linebacker can step up and make the play. We're so pleasedwith his play we're thinking about using him on the offensive line as well."
Although football is Yeager's bread and butter sport -- having played it five years -- he also enjoys experimenting with othersports during the off-season.
His freshman year, he played on thejunior varsity lacrosse team. It was the first time he had ever played lacrosse. He switched to baseball last spring and plans to go backto lacrosse this spring.
Last winter, he joined the junior varsity wrestling team and will wrestle again this winter.
"I really enjoyed wrestling; it's different than anything else. When you score on the football field you do it as a team, but when you're out there on the mat -- it's one on one," he said.
As for lacrosse, it's a chance to have fun and get in shape for the upcoming football season.
"I like the contact. It's a fast-paced game, and it takes a lot of thinking. We've always had a competitive program. It keeps me in shape for football," Yeager said.
Yeager first came to McDonogh as a freshman. He says the advantages of going to a private school outweigh the negatives.
"I really like it here. The teachers are great, and I know I'm getting a good education," he said.
"Coming as a freshman, it was tough leaving my old friends and not being able to play sports with them. I still have a lot of friends at South Carroll. I seethem a lot during the summer but it's tough sometimes during the school year."
After high school, Yeager would like to attend the Naval Academy and someday be a pilot.
"I've wanted to be a pilot sinceI was little," he says.
Until then, he will be doing his flying on the football field for the Eagles. Doing his share to get all thoserungs painted black.