Baker hustles into starring role Forward leads unbeaten Cardinals

October 19, 1992|By Marc Bouchard | Marc Bouchard,Contributing Writer

Jeremy Baker may not have all the skills that other great Calvert Hall soccer players have had, but he more than makes up for that with hustle.

"When I was a sophomore, the only reason I made the [varsity] was my aggressiveness," Baker said. "I didn't need skills. We had [all-metro players] Brian Bugarin and J.J. [Kremer]. My role was to just get the ball and cross it."

Since then, Baker's skills have improved, but it is his hustle and aggressiveness that have led second-ranked Calvert Hall (10-0-1) to the top of the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference.

"This year, I was afraid he would try to be Brian Bugarin and J.J. Kremer all rolled into one," Calvert Hall coach Bill Karpovich said. "I told him we were counting on him, but not to the extent that he has to do it all. But he has been doing most of it."

Baker, a forward, has 12 goals and four assists for the Cardinals, who have outscored their opponents, 39-2.

"Through [Baker's] leadership, the team has developed very quickly," Karpovich said. "I never anticipated anything near the kind of season we're having."

As Calvert Hall's only returning starter this season, Baker became the instant leader of a young team.

"I think a lot of the younger guys look up to me," Baker said. "When they were playing JV, I was playing varsity. I can tell them, for instance, what a certain team's style is. That's why they look up to me.

"[The leadership role] is something I really like. I like to help the younger teammates because I know they could be in the same situation as me when they're seniors."

"The other guys are starting to catch on to what he's doing," Karpovich said. "I'll take a kid who's quick, hard and aggressive, rather than a kid with tricky skills who doesn't want to stick his nose in there because he's afraid to get hurt."

Baker tries to lead with his play as much as his voice.

He scored the only goals in 1-0 wins over Severna Park and Gilman and a 2-0 win over McDonogh.

"If I'm going hard, that makes them just want to go even harder," said Baker, who says that with a coach like Karpovich, his voice is not always needed.

"There's always 'Mr. Karp' on the sidelines," Baker said. "If they don't go hard, they're coming out."

Baker's leadership was tested after the Cardinals' tie with John Carroll.

"I know what these games mean," Baker said. "[The tie with John Carroll] was just a game where we got beat to the ball. It's not going to cost us our season. We just have to go on and improve on what we know."

Baker knows the danger in having younger players rely too much on a veteran, so he tries to balance his leadership.

"The problem with [the younger players] looking up at you too much is that if they're watching you, they're not moving," Baker said. "Sometimes we get in these modes where they think if they get [the ball] to me, something will happen.

"I have to be a leader, but at the same time stay with them and make sure they know their roles."

It appears that the other players quickly are learning their roles. In Saturday's 5-1 win over Mount St. Joseph, five different players scored for the Cardinals.

"Once we get toward the end of the season, are roles are well defined," Baker said. "That's why we're always strong in the playoffs. We know what the goal is. We see that all the hard work we've done has really paid off."

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