Fink trades in his barbells to play football Formidable player returns to Eagles

September 20, 1992|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

When Jeff Fink walked away from the Francis Scott Key football team last year, no one was more surprised than Coach Mike Coons.

Fink had made a lasting impression on Coons as a ninth-grader when he made a pact with teammate Bobby Selby to raise his level of play to new heights.

"We had just lost a JV game to Brunswick, 33-0, and I watched Jeff and Bobby vow to never let anything like that happen again," said Coons.

"Jeff said he would dedicate himself to becoming a better player before graduating."

But a sudden hitch developed in Fink's pact a few weeks before his junior season.

Fink decided to give up football and concentrate on bodybuilding instead of being a backup quarterback and strong safety for the Eagles.

"I thought I didn't need football anymore," said Fink. "But I was wrong. To be honest, the 0-10 season my sophomore year had something to do with it."

Fink discovered how wrong he had been when he went to last season's opening Key game and watched from the stands.

"That was the day I decided to come back for my senior season," said Fink.

If Fink had had his way, he would have joined the team the next day.

But Coons has a rule that if a player doesn't show up Aug. 15 for the first day of practice he doesn't play that season.

So Fink had to painfully watch as the Eagles went through another winless season.

But the big day finally arrived for Fink when Francis Scott Key opened its 1992 season Sept. 4 against longtime rival North Carroll on the road.

Fink, who lives in Taneytown, was back in a football uniform for his senior year and hoping to make it a memorable one.

He has done that, no matter what else happens.

Fink helped the Eagles win their first game in the 1990s, ending a 21-game losing streak and touching off a long-awaited party at Pizza Hut.

Fink, bulked up to 210 pounds from a year of weightlifting, was a major force as a tackle on the offensive line and on defense he helped shut down North Carroll from his linebacker position.

"Around school, people are calling me 'Mr. Football,' " Fink said. "They're calling everybody on the football team that. It was great to win. FSK hadn't won at North Carroll since 1985."

The win obviously has raised expectations for the rest of the season.

"To be honest, I believe we can go all the way to the state tournament," Fink said.

Coons likes the optimism but he knows that one win won't suddenly "make a 5-3, 125-pounder any bigger or stronger."

"The immediate effect is our JV went out and won [the next] Wednesday night," Coons said. "But as far as making the state tournament is concerned, you would have to say our chances aren't good.

Wilde Lake [defending 1A state champs] and Owings Mills are in our region, and that should take care of two of the four playoff berths right there."

However, Coons sees the football picture at Key getting brighter for the future.

"I'm convinced you can win with good kids like we have," Coons said. "You don't need social outcasts."

And just how did Coons celebrate the end to a 21-game losing streak?

"I washed jerseys like I always do after a game," he said. "And I know this sounds unusual, but I had milk and cookies."

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