Color Green Terrors optimistic W. Md. football has high hopes

August 25, 1993|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

Western Maryland College senior running back Rob Johnson put it best when discussing the prospects in 1993 under first-year coach Tim Keating.

"It's a new season with a new coach and a whole new attitude," he said Monday afternoon at the team's photo day.

"Coach Keating brings a new, exciting brand of football to Western Maryland and we believe we'll be able to play with anybody."

The high hopes start with Keating, who was named the Green Terrors' coach in March after Dale Sprague resigned last December.

"Winning comes with attitude and the optimism here is great," Keating said.

"The kids have been fired up since March and I think we'll have a fine season."

It doesn't take long to notice the former Wesley College head coach has a knack for turning negatives into positives.

At Wesley, a Division III school in Dover, Del., he took over a program in 1988 that had lost its previous 27 games and turned it around, finishing 8-2 in 1991 and 7-3 last fall.

Having only 58 players on the roster this season would appear to be a disadvantage, but Keating believes it will be an asset.

"It will be an advantage. It's kind of like being a teacher and not having to worry about a big class -- it's going to be fun," he said.

"With a small squad, we can get to know them, teach them and show them we care, not just on Saturdays, but with their whole life as well."

Keating inherits a team that finished 5-5 last season after a 5-1 start. Fifteen starters and 37 letter winners return.

"We have a lot of quality players

and the record last year was 5-5. We're a lot better off than the Wesley team I took over where we pretty much had to start from scratch," he said.

Keating says having experienced players will help in introducing a new system.

"We're going to let these guys have fun. Show them what the boundaries are and let them play. I've always found if you treat them with respect, they'll return it. I told them I have no favorite players, just the hard-working ones."

Johnson, a preseason All-America selection from North Carroll High, is ready to do whatever it takes to win the Centennial Football Conference title in his final year.

"We were close last year and that really eats at you. The seniors want to go out a winner and the juniors, sophomores and freshmen want to start a new winning tradition at Western Maryland," he said.

"Learning a new system is always tough, we're just going to have to study hard, learn it and try to work it to perfection."

In the past, the Green Terrors were content to grind it out on the ground. Keating wants to put points on the board the quickest way possible.

"We want to get the ball in the hands of someone who can find open field and score a touchdown," he said.

The Green Terrors will open their 1993 season Sept. 11 at home against Juniata.

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