Tykell Johns and Jason Snyder are perfect examples of the quality rather than quantity that epitomizes the athletic program at Harford Technical High School.
The two seniors are among the leading athletes in Harford County. Johns is the top basketball scorer with a 20-point average and Snyder is one of the top wrestlers with a record of 21-2 at 160 pounds.
Participation on the school's teams are slow in improving -- seven players on the basketball team; 10 on the wrestling team -- but the addition of a ninth grade last year and more games with county schools have made a positive dent in what once was an anonymous program.
Certainly the Johns family of Edgewood has made its presence known at the Bel Air school.
Akeil Johns, the oldest of three brothers, graduated last year and is the leading scorer at Essex Community College. He led the metropolitan area the previous two seasons with scoring averages of 35 and 31 points.
Tykell, like Akeil a three-year member of the program, is joined on the varsity by a younger brother, Lechea, a sophomore who is in his second year at the school.
Despite its lack of numbers, Harford Tech attracted attention this winter by wrestling against every other county school, and by playing boys basketball games against the other eight members of the county league as part of its regular schedule.
The 4-12 basketball team has won four of its past five games, including a last-second 48-47 decision over North Harford.
"I went to the ninth grade at Edgewood, but came over here the next year," Tykell Johns said. "My family saw it as getting some training I could fall back on, and now I see it as getting the best education in the county."
Johns, 17, has made the honor roll every quarter while taking a course load that emphasizes the commercial foods business.
Of the academics, Johns said: "I had good grades at Edgewood, but I wasn't pushed and probably didn't do as well as I could have. Here, the school takes an interest in you, especially if you pay attention and show you want to learn."
As far as the basketball goes, "Last year, it was just like home with all three of us here, and I gave Akeil the ball, especially in crunch time.
0$ "This year, I think my teammates
expected me to be the scorer, the one they'd go to, but we've spread it around pretty well. Against North Harford, at the end it was Kelly Turner who sank the winning basket. I think North Harford expected me to take the shot."
Snyder, 18, likes to work with his hands and was attracted to the school because it had just started an electronics program.
"I like to repair radios and televisions and am interested in getting into the electronics field," said the Abingdon resident.
In wrestling, he came up through the recreation program, then wrestled on the junior varsity as an Edgewood freshman. At Harford Tech, he has a three-year varsity record of 61-18, including 21-2 this season, all at 160 pounds.
"I was third in the county last
year and fourth in the region each of the last two years, then lost in the first round of the state tournament," Snyder said. "Right now, I'm getting a lot of outside support, and I believe I can go farther than in the past.
"I know I'm a better wrestler than in the past. I've come a long way since I used to lose every match in the rec leagues."
There is no question that daily transportation is a problem, especially for those involved in extracurricular activities after school. "Yeah, that's a negative, along with the fact the school doesn't have football or lacrosse. I would have tried both of them," said Johns.
Through the administration and athletes such as Johns and Snyder, the school's image is changing.
"People who see us as a so-so operation will see big differences in the
coming years," said athletic director Brad Osborn. "There is the possibility of starting lacrosse next year, and football may be in the more distant future."
Dale Neeper, who supervises the link of the technical programs with Harford Community College, talks positively about the school.
"Image is important. One of the things we have done is remove the word 'vocational' from the school's name because this was seen as a negative," he said.
"The students whom you see here are not captives; they choose to be here. They have a certain maturity level.
"They left transportation and their friends behind, because they see education as a goal. That says a lot for 16- and 17-year-olds who put education in front of everything else."