Brad is Best at St. Mary's Southern's Buck is back in form


September 21, 1992|By Pat O'Malley

The Best has come to St. Mary's and Buck is back at Southern of Harwood, although he really never left.

Two of the county's smallest high schools, St. Mary's and Southern, knocked off two of the bigger names in high school football over the weekend.

While the victories were similarly colossal, the coaches offer quite a contrast with St. Mary's Brad Best, a young coach who has built quite a program, and Southern's Buck Gardner, from the old school and still kicking in his 19th season.

Friday night at Anne Arundel Community College, St. Mary's stunned Calvert Hall of Towson, 14-13, and on Saturday, Southern of Harwood traveled to Howard County and knocked off the Sun's third-ranked Wilde Lake 28-27 in double overtime, ending the state's longest winning streak at 28.

Neither St. Mary's (2-1) nor Southern (2-1) was expected to win. Unranked Calvert Hall (0-2) plays in the heralded Maryland Scholastic Association 'A' Conference while St. Mary's plays way down in the MSA 'C' Conference. Year in and year out, the Hall is one of the top teams in the metro area.

Calvert Hall draws players from all over the metro area while St. Mary's takes its players from Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. It didn't seem possible for the Saints to hang in there against the Redbirds, let alone win.

Southern had played tough against Wilde Lake one year ago in Harwood before dropping a 27-15 decision. That was at home and surely the Dawgs didn't have much of a chance on the road at the home of the defending State Class 1A champion Wildecats (2-1), who boasted a 28-game winning streak.

St. Mary's and Southern believed otherwise and went out to post huge victories for their own programs and for Anne Arundel County as well.

"It was a total team effort, a big, big win for St. Mary's and I'm very, very proud of the kids and the school," said the Saints' fourth-year head coach Best on the 24-Hour Sportsline (647-2499) Friday evening.

"Our whole defense played great and my defensive coordinator Mike Codd had them well prepared," Best said.

The Saints' defense picked off three enemy passes while Steve Schummer led the offense, completing six of 10 passes for 103 yards and rushing for another 67 yards.

Joe Keenan scored the first Saints' touchdown on a five-yard run and Mark Kiefer followed with his first of two crucial extra-point kicks. Later, with about seven minutes to go, Mike Martelli blocked a punt and linebacker Mark Zeller scooped it up and took it 32 yards to pay dirt.

Kiefer then booted what proved to be the winning point.

Calvert Hall answered with about three minutes to go, scoring a touchdown to cut the lead to 14-13 and was about to go for the two-point conversion and the lead until an offsides penalty put them back at the eight. Coach Bill Mackley sent the kicking team in and the Cardinal's attempted tying kick was wide right.

"After they missed the kick, we were able to run the clock out and get a really big win," said Best, who has gone 17-6 at St. Mary's since an inaugural 3-7 campaign.

For the past couple years, county coaching peers have spoken highly of Best and the job he has done at St. Mary's. A victory like this over a big Baltimore school only enhances his reputation and attracts football players.

Being a private Catholic school, St. Mary's recruits students. Football victories of this magnitude might draw the outstanding athletes to your doorsteps. Any young football player, who may have been undecided as to whether he was going to a public school or St. Mary's high, may have had his mind made up for him Friday night.

An MSA 'C' Conference playing with an 'A' Conference School? C'mon.

An MSA 'C' Conference school beating an 'A' Conference school? Get real.

Well, it is real and a great public relations victory for St. Mary's. We could see early on that Brad Best was an excellent coach by the tireless way he approached his job not only coaching, but starting a highly productive weight training program and by the personal interest he took in each of his players.

It was easy to see that this guy was going to be an outstanding high school football coach. For anyone who might have wanted more proof, Brad Best proved his mettle Friday night.

Then, there is that crusty critter at Southern, Buck Gardner, who started the season with a career record of 77-103. His has been quite a roller coaster ride over the past two decades.

During his tenure the likes of quarterback Bob Holman (early '70s), quarterback/kicker extraordinaire Dale Castro and defensive back Mo Smith (mid- '70s), running backs Marvin Sesker (late '70s), Joe Tongue and Robert Taylor (early '80s) and pass receiver Exys Jones (mid- '80s) to mention a few of the more notables who have passed through Harwood.

Flea flickers, triple reverses and all the unorthodox plays have never scared Gardner, who boasts perhaps the biggest bag of tricks of any county coach.

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