Atholton offense run-and-shot 2-3 Raiders hurt by turnovers Football notebook

October 09, 1992|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

The run-and-shoot offense at Atholton, which seemed to be taking off after the Raiders' 36-28 victory over Liberty in the season's second game, has been temporarily grounded.

The Raiders (2-3) are 1-2 in their past three games, mainly because they have managed only two touchdowns and 19 points over that span.

TTC Turnovers have figured heavily in Atholton's slide. The Raiders have turned it over 15 times and taken it away seven times. In their 18-0 loss to Hammond two weeks ago, the Raiders coughed up the ball twice after moving inside Hammond's 10-yard line.

Penalties also have cost the Raiders, even though they overcame seven penalties for 65 yards last week in a 10-0 victory over Centennial.

Scoring will not get easier tomorrow against Wilde Lake, but to finish strong, the Raiders must get running back Carlando Love more involved in the offense.

After coming back from a sprained ankle that kept him out of the opener, Love has rushed for 315 yards on 45 carries (7-yard average). But he has caught only four passes.

"Last year, teams were more concerned with our passing. Now, everybody is starting to key on him [Love]," Atholton coach Don Van Deusen said. "We need to get him the ball more often."

Quarterbacking duty is being split between Ryan McQueeny (24 for 52, 307 yards, four TDs) and Jason Albert (17 for 27, 163 yards). Both have shown flashes of excellence, but neither has gotten too comfortable behind an inexperienced offensive line. Look for Love to catch more passes out of the backfield and to break more long gainers as a result.

Some things never change at Atholton. The Raiders always seem to come up with a fine place-kicker, and they've landed another in Chris Buscher. He is 8-for-9 in extra-point attempts, and last week he kicked a 25-yard field goal in his first attempt of the season.

Coming into the season, Hammond boasted the county's biggest offensive line, averaging about 225 pounds per man. Since then, it's gotten bigger. After coach Joe Russo made a few changes, the front five averages nearly 250.

Mount Hebron, which has one of the county's smaller teams, bore the brunt of Hammond's bulk last week, as the Bears (4-1, 2-0) rolled up 337 yards rushing in a 38-0 rout that established them as a contender.

The Bears' line begins with 6-foot-2, 240-pound center Pedro Barbosa, who has replaced Brian Triantaffilos. On the left side, 6-3, 230-pound guard Lars Unjhem -- moved from right guard -- and 6-1, 220-pound tackle Darin Brinkman form one wall. Kwame Crawford (6-0, 280) -- who replaced Justin Lavis -- and All-County tackle Danny Boone (6-2, 275) make up a huge right side.

Those are five big reasons that the Bears are averaging 7.3 yards per rush and 184 yards rushing per game. Erin Woodward (454 yards on 59 attempts) has been the main beneficiary.

And Hammond's ability to throw makes its offense even more dangerous. Quarterbacks Greg Seward and Rudy Cooper have combined for 576 yards passing. Wideout Kelvin Stevens leads the receivers with 402 yards on 26 catches.

Meanwhile, the defense continues to roll along. Triantaffilos (6-0, 200) and Lavis (6-1, 230) have shored up the defensive line, and the Bears have yet to give up a point in league play. In five games, they have allowed 25 points and are surrendering an average of 78 yards rushing per game, 131 total.

Another team playing solid defense is Wilde Lake, which has shown its customary toughness, this time behind Donald Gibson and Nate Cassella.

Gibson has been superb at linebacker, making 46 solo tackles, including eight tackles for losses and three quarterback sacks. He also has two interceptions, with one being returned for a touchdown. Cassella, meanwhile, has sparked the team from his defensive end spot with 10 tackles for losses and six sacks, both team highs. He's also batted three passes and recovered a fumble.

But the Wildecats are hurting. Linebacker Paul Knox suffered a fractured forearm in the second game against Dundalk and may not return for three weeks. Still, he is the team's fifth-leading tackler with 22 solos and 22 assists, along with an interception and a fumble recovery. The Wildecats need him back for the final regular-season games against Glenelg and Hammond, and presumably the playoffs.

Also sidelined is receiver/cornerback Craig Butler, who has a lower leg stress fracture. His absence on defense will force the Wildecats to take a risk by starting quarterback Seth Willingham safety, because Allan Anderson will replace Butler at cornerback.

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