Panthers, Knights again ones to beat New coaches, players shuffle decks 1993 Anne Arundel County high school football preview

September 02, 1993|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Staff Writer

Annapolis Panthers (last year's record: 10-2) If a somewhat inexperienced offensive line develops, fifth-year coach Roy Brown (29-14 career) and his Panthers should revel in another successful season.

After dropping its first game of the 1992 season by 18-16 to Randallstown, Annapolis went on to win the county 4A championship and 10 straight before getting hammered, 35-7, by eventual state champion Gaithersburg of Montgomery County in the state semifinals. The banner season earned Brown County and Metro Coach of the Year honors.

Finishing the season ranked ninth in The Baltimore Sun's final football poll, Annapolis made postseason play for a county-record eighth time and won its first playoff game since 1984, 21-6, over Friendly of Prince George's County.

All-County center Beau Watkins, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound junior, will anchor the offensive line with second-team All-County two-way tackle Jeff Ogle (6-2, 240).

Brown hopes to get senior leadership from Watkins and Ogle in (( the trenches, where the team lost two All-County and second-team All-Metro linemen in tight end Matt Criscimagna and tackle Brandon Tinker.

"No question, we have the potential to be a very good football team, but our question marks are on the offensive line where we have new people," said Brown.

Brown hopes any inexperience that shows on the offensive line will be compensated by the wealth of experience and skill in his backfield. Three-year starting quarterback Juan Johnson, who tossed 10 touchdown passes in the team's run-oriented offense, will guide a bevy of quick backs.

Senior Kenny Boyd (5-11, 175), whom Brown said "should have a good season," figures to be the workhorse in the Panthers' quick-trap-highlighted scheme. Boyd, second-team All-County as a junior, rushed for nearly 800 yards last season.

In addition to Boyd, Annapolis boasts senior backs Kevin Belt, Lamont Henson and Darnell Ravenell and juniors Orlando Downs and TeShawn Cooper. Every back is capable of breaking a long run from any spot on the field.

Henson (6-1, 185), who also plays linebacker, is expected to anchor what should be a typically quick, gang-tackling Panthers defense.

Arundel Wildcats (3-7) Despite going 3-7 in his debut season, coach Bill Zucco found a silver lining for 1993 -- the Wildcats won three of their last four, includinga 27-0 romp over Meade.

"We should be a better football team and need to get off to a good start because our schedule is murderous at the end," said Zucco, whose 'Cats wind down with 4A contender Severna Park, much-improved Old Mill and defending county champion Annapolis before traveling to upstart Meade.

Arundel is the only county 4A team that will play every team in the Class 4A East Region with the exception of Calvert High.

"If we can run the ball, our passing game will only get better," said Zucco. "I feel comfortable with our quarterback situation, no matter who plays."

Sophomore quarterback Pat Cilento (6-0, 170), who started the final four games after Casey Trout (6-0, 160) was injured, has the starting nod. Trout, a junior, could be more valuable as a running back if Cilento comes through at the controls. Another junior, Bill Clyburn, who led the JV to an 8-2 record last fall, is waiting in the wings.

Jeff Hedrick, an All-County and All-Metro defensive back as a junior and The Baltimore Sun's Male Athlete of the Year for Anne Arundel County, is the team catalyst. Hedrick (6-0, 190) returned two of his six interceptions for touchdowns last fall while making 57 tackles, 23 unassisted.

Zucco expects more of the same from Hedrick, who also returned 23 punts for 696 yards (30.3 avg.) and was a threat coming out of the backfield.

Other key senior players figure to be RB-LB Kevyn Dodson (5-11, 215), TE-DE Jamie Stoddard (5-11, 165), two-way tackles Todd Warble (6-0, 210) and J. P. Noon (6-3, 230), and junior nose guard Chris Eakins (5-10, 215).

Zucco also is excited about senior kicker/punter/end Chris Turner (6-0, 180), a lacrosse star who is playing football for the first time.

"We don't expect to contend with Annapolis, North County and Severna Park, but we will be better," said Zucco.

Broadneck Bruins (6-4) Coach Jeff Hedrick (16-24, four years) hopes the Bruins' step down to Class 3A from Class 4A results in a step up as they settle into the Class 3A East Region.

The Bruins showed marked improvement the past two seasons in the county's so-called 4A "black and blue" division, but 6-4 is not quite good enough for postseason play.

Broadneck never has been to the football playoffs, but now with a schedule that includes seven 4A schools and three 2As to go with a team full of 4A-quality players, the good possibility is there.

"I would say that 9-1 would get us into the playoffs," said Hedrick, whose team is in a region with perennial Baltimore City powers Poly and City and Eastern Shore power James M. Bennett.

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