Hedrick a hit at every sport Versatile describes Arundel junior ATHLETES OF THE YEAR

June 15, 1993|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Staff Writer

A starter and major contributor in three sports since his sophomore year, Arundel junior Jeff Hedrick is the 1992-93 Anne Arundel County Male Athlete of the Year.

Hedrick, who plays football, basketball and baseball, is the fourth male athlete from the Gambrills school in the 13-year history of the award.

"Jeff is the best in three sports since I've been here," said Arundel High athletic director and head baseball coach Bernie Walter, who has been at the school for 22 years.

"He's a great athlete and a lot of people who have been around here longer than I have compare him to Lou Carter as the best in school history."

Wildcats football coach Bill Zucco was junior varsity coach when Carter ran wild over the county in the 1970s and also starred in basketball and track. Carter later starred at the University of Maryland and with Tampa Bay and Oakland in the NFL as a running back.

Hedrick knows little about Carter except that his name is a legend at Arundel, but knows what it takes to play three sports year round.

"It takes a good attitude and it's something you've got to want to do first of all," said Hedrick. "Sometimes it drags on [three sports seasons] and gets tiring, but you just suck it up.

"And it is easier when you are winning."

Hedrick doesn't possess the speed Carter had, but has all the other attributes of a great athlete -- instinct, strength, durability, talent, the ability to make the big play, play hurt and the inner drive to win.

"He does things for his team that Louie [Carter] did, things to win games," said Zucco.

Hedrick, who is a product of the Crofton youth sports program, was an All-Metro, Associated Press All-State and All-County defensive back last fall. The Wildcats junior returned two of his six interceptions for touchdowns, was in on 57 tackles (23 solo) and ran back 23 punts for 696 yards, an average return of 30.3.

Zucco also used Hedrick as a pass receiver on offense, where he caught 14 passes for 261 yards, an average of 18.6 yards.

"I probably could have played him at quarterback, and he's so talented at so many things, it's difficult to decide where to use him," Zucco said of Hedrick's versatility.

According to Hedrick, football dragged until season's end, when the team won three of its last four games and "then it became more fun to be out there."

In basketball, Hedrick was a coach on the floor, averaging 10.0 points a game for the first winning boys basketball team (15-8) at the school since 1979. A team captain and the point guard, Hedrick was a key player for coach Gerald Moore, whose team beat Annapolis for the first time since 1975.

Hedrick had 17 points and six rebounds as the Wildcats stunned Annapolis, 76-74. It was a pressure free throw with 23 seconds left by Hedrick, who hit five of seven steals in the second half of that game, that proved to be the game-winning basket.

Three games later, Arundel overcame a 17-point deficit in the final period to force overtime at Glen Burnie, but lost, 73-70, in the extra period.

"Jeff is a leader by example, not a rah-rah kind of guy, but not quiet either," said Walter of his All-County and second-team All-Metro shortstop.

Arundel (21-1) was the state 4A and national champion (No. 1 in the Easton Poll, published by Collegiate Baseball).

,.5l "His future is ahead of him and I think baseball is his best sport," Walter said. "He has great hands, a good arm, line-drive power and needs only to improve his running speed. He's been working on that."

Hedrick, an Honorable Mention Mizuno All-American infielder in baseball, anchored what Walter said was his "best defensive team" in 20 years as the Arundel head coach.

The Wildcats fielded an amazing .966 with 20 doubleplays as a team. Hedrick fielded his position at .904 -- only seven errors on 73 chances in 22 games.

At the plate, Hedrick hit .421 (32-76) with five doubles, two triples, one homer, nine stolen bases, 12 RBI and 26 runs scored as the leadoff batter.

"Jeff has great instincts for every sport he plays, and that's why he is such a gifted athlete," said Walter.

"He is genuinely a great kid."

And a kid who might have to decide between football and baseball when it comes to a collegiate opportunity.

"I've gotten just as many letters [from various schools] for football as I have baseball, and I'm not sure what I might do after next year," said Hedrick.

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