Meade relies on Walker to run wild

August 30, 1992|By John Harris III | John Harris III,Staff Writer

So much for the sophomore jinx.

lTC Kenny Walker's mad -- to the county rushing title last season caught everyone by surprise, helping Meade bounce back from an uncharacteristic 1-9 mark in 1990 to last year's 5-5 mark.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound running back keyed the Mustangs' wishbone attack with 1,267 yards on 126 carries -- 10.5 yards per carry -- and 12 touchdowns.

After such a colossal campaign, Mustang head coach Hayse Henderson expects more of the same from his junior sensation.

"So far, he's looking even better than he did last year at this point," Henderson said. "He's by far a lot further along. He has a good blend of speed and power. He can get you the extra yards by putting his head down."

Senior fullback Clarence Peacock more than likely will start at fullback, while first-year senior Rick Jamison and sophomore speedster Raymond Otis will vie for the other halfback slots.

Juniors Mike Ellis and Curtis Broum are neck-and-neck in the battle for the first-string quarterback job, which suits Henderson just fine.

"At the moment, there's not too much difference between the two. Both can handle the wishbone of fense because they both have good quickness," Henderson said. "Mike is the better passer of the two, but it'll [the competition] still go down to the first game of the season."

Top receiving candidates include senior split end Robert Jackson and junior tight end Sean McNaboe. McNaboe especially has impressed the third-year field general during preseason workouts.

Leading offensive line hopefuls include senior veterans Mike Butz (tackle) and center Tyler Wilson; junior transfer Tony Hartly, sophomore Donald Messenese and surprising freshman Joaquim Yates, a 5-4, 165-pound fireplug.

"He [Yates] needs a little experience, but he has a nice attitude, and he's been picking up on things pretty quickly," said Henderson.

Butz and Messenese are listed at defensive tackle, while senior Dave Ratliff and Yates are possibilities at nose guard. Returning senior Daran Brown will start at one defensive end, with the other end still up for grabs.

Walker and Hartly are slated for duty at linebacker. Jackson, Ellis, Broum and Otis are penciled in for defensive backfield action. Graduation cost Meade second-team All-County performer Kevin Powell, now a freshman defensive back at Salisbury State University.

The Stangs hope to repeat last year's opener against Montgomery County's Springbrook, the 1990 4A state champion.

Walker ran wild in his varsity debut, gaining 165 yards on 13 carries and three touchdowns (including a 62-yarder), helping his team produce a stunning 20-14 upset over its hosts.

Henderson said, "Considering our numbers, we're looking pretty good. We're a lot further along than I anticipated. But as always, the competition in our league is going to be tough.

"When you look at what teams have returning, you have to look at Severna Park and Annapolis as favorites.

"But if all goes well, I think we'll be right there at the end. Right now, we're looking forward to Springbrook. [After last year's game] there probably won't be a seat left left in the stands."

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