Chris Robertson, a freshman inside linebacker out of Poly, was supposed to be a bright spot in the Frostburg State future.
But the future has arrived a little early.
Seniors Todd Appel and Keith Keirzkowski were penciled in as the Bobcats' starting inside linebackers. But Appel tore the insertion of one of his biceps in the preseason. He's out for the year. Keirzkowski, the defensive captain, hurt his left knee in the team's second game, on Sept. 14 against Catholic.
Since then, Robertson has been thrust into a starting spot. He is fourth on the team in tackles with 21 -- nine of them unassisted. He also has one sack and one interception. In the Bobcats' 39-14 victory over Salisbury State on Saturday, he forced a fumble.
"When Keith got hurt [in the first quarter of the Catholic game], Chris got thrown in," Frostburg coach Dennis Riccio said last week. "We thought he did a good job. It was a difficult situation to be in -- not practicing the whole week with the first team. [After] he had practiced with the first group all week, we saw a lot of improvement."
At just 6 feet, 190 pounds, Robertson, who said he was recruited by some Division I schools as a defensive back, is not the prototypical inside linebacker. But Riccio said he fits the Bobcats' system.
"He is typical of our linebackers," Riccio said, "but not really typical of what most people classify as a linebacker. We expect our linebackers to run around a lot, not really to be the heavy take-on-guards kinds of guys."
Riccio said Robertson could start even after Keirzkowski returns, which will be Oct. 19 at the earliest.
Another graduate of an area high school, John Walter (Towson), will start this week as a result of an injury to a Bobcats starter. Walter will play tight end instead of freshman Vince Santore, who hurt his ankle the week before. Santore played Saturday against Salisbury State, but the injury has since become too serious for him to play.
The Bobcats [3-1] will play at Western Connecticut State on Saturday.
* TOWSON STATE: The Tigers were hit with some bad news lTC after Saturday's game. Junior defensive end Bob Meehan (Loyola) sprained his left knee. He will be sidelined five to six weeks. Defensive tackle Doug Irvin will move into Meehan's spot, and Bill Fisher will take Irvin's spot.
Offensive guard Michael Gunthrop (Poly) tore a ligament in his right little finger. Gunthrop opted not to have hand surgery now, so he will be available to play Saturday with a special cast.
* WESTERN MARYLAND: The Green Terrors' 2-0 CentenniaFootball Conference start is their best since the conference opened play in 1983. They never have started 1-0 before. Western Maryland traditionally plays its conference opener against Gettysburg, and the Green Terrors' victory this season was their first over the Bullets since 1979.