Call it the year of the two-way lineman, versatility and defense in county high school football.
So many outstanding athletes are on the Anne Arundel County Sun's 28-man 1991 All-County Football Team that we very easily could have picked a 14-man team with the guys who play both ways. Thirteen of the county's 16 high school football teams were represented on the first team, with Old Mill and Severna Park placing five players each.
Four of the five interior linemen named to the first-team offenseeasily could have been named to the first-team defense as well and vice versa.
Tackles Dave Sisas of Southern and Mike Mahoney of Old Mill also sparkled on the defensive front line. Ditto for guards JohnSpencer of Glen Burnie and Edmund Hicks of South River, who were equally as good at linebacker and defensive back, respectively, as they were at taking out opponents with bone-crunching blocks.
Those four were mean in the trenches and loved hitting people. Spencer epitomizes what I'm talking about. I thought the 6-foot, 200-pound Gophers guard/linebacker was going to take me out Monday at the All-County photo session.
Spencer glared at me and got ticked off when I told him we were putting him on the All-County offensive line. He's so proudof his defense and ability to rack up opposing ball carriers that being named to the offensive line was like being named to the All-County field hockey team.
When I explained to the stone-faced Spencer that there was a surplus of outstanding linebackers this year, but notmany who also could cut it offensively in the trenches as he did, iteased his pain a bit.
Defensively, Spencer was in on 116 tackles for the Gophers.
So, call Spencer, Hicks, Mahoney and Sisas two-way All-County players if you will, because they were. Each was a defensive cornerstone on his team, and the foursome is so mean that they were literally offensive to their opponents.
On the other side of the ball, All-County defensive end Mark Miles of Severna Park and downlinemen William Reese of Old Mill and Rory Kiernen of St. Mary's could have taken spots on the offensive line.
Miles was a superb guard for Coach Andy Borland's Falcons, while Reese was a force at tacklefor the Patriots and Kiernen at center for the Saints.
The first-team center position went to Old Mill's fine three-year starter, Austin Johnson. He was the starting junior-varsity center his freshman year and took his act to the varsity the following year.
Broadneck'spillar in the middle, Jamal Muse, all 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds of him, and Demond Galloway, the 6-3, 245-pound Annapolis Panther, completethe first-team defensive line. Muse led the Bruins with 10 quarterback sacks, while Galloway anchored the Annapolis defensive line.
Atlinebacker are the Anne Arundel County Sun Player of the Year, Anthony Walker of North County, Ty Selby of Annapolis, Monte Lomax of Arundel and Lamont Miller of Northeast. Walker, Selby and Miller also hadAll-County offensive stats worthy of consideration.
Walker ran for nearly 800 yards despite playing in the Knights' run-and-shoot offense. His solid 6-3, 190-pound physique and his speed, quickness and strength have a host of Division I scouts drooling.
"Anthony was byfar the best player in the county," said his coach, Chuck Markiewicz, the Anne Arundel County Sun Coach of the Year.
On defense, Walker was in on 141 tackles, 88 unassisted.
Selby rushed for 701 yards, averaging 7.1 yards per carry, while doubling up at linebacker. It didn't matter that Selby is only 5-9 and 175 pounds. Much bigger opposing offensive linemen couldn't pushthis hard-nosed competitor around.
Miller averaged 5.2 yards per attempt with 624 yards rushing in 10 games. At linebacker/cornerback, Miller, a transfer from Ohio, posted seven sacks.
Lomax was one of the best kick and punt returnersin the county in addition to being in the middle of the Wildcats' defensive action.
The first-team secondary boasts the wiry and speedy Gerald Cager of Severna Park and his sophomore teammate Sean Miller(who led the county in interceptions), Joe Messinese of South River and Eric Sheppard of Old Mill.
Cager is also a track standout who might go to a Division I school and try to make the football team as a walk-on.
Miller picked off eight passes, three in a decisive 28-20 loss to North County, the game that probably cost the Falcons a playoff berth.
The talented 10th-grader, who made the school's varsity baseball team as a freshman catcher, was one of only two sophomores named on the first team, which had only five underclassmen.
Sheppard was the Patriots' big-play man on defense and for returning kicks. The Old Mill standout was second in interceptions with six for a defense that yielded a county-low 94 points in 11 games.
Messinese had four interceptions for a Seahawks' defensive unit that gave up only 79 points in 10 regular-season games. Excluding the 41-7 playoff loss to Seneca Valley, the South River defense was among the best.