Atholton's confidence is perfect at 3-0

September 22, 1993|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

Winning its first three football games is enough to make any high school football team feel it can conquer the world.

That's especially true when that team won only three games the entire previous season.

So, count Atholton (3-0) among the confident these days. The Raiders are off to their best start since 1986, when they finished 8-2.

An 8-2 season would please Raiders coach Don Van Deusen, in his 20th season, immensely. He said he had expected this to be a .500 team.

Instead, after victories over Northeast (13-6), Liberty (23-8) and Stephen Decatur (30-0), the Raiders are one of three undefeated teams in what now appears to be a wide-open county race. Glenelg and Howard also are unbeaten.

"It's been a combination of all three phases of the game," Van Deusen said.

Atholton's run-and-shoot offense has averaged 22 points. Carlando Love, who has 284 yards and four touchdowns on 37 carries, leads the ground game.

Atholton's passing game also has clicked, with quarterback Jason Albert completing 25 of 40 passes for 290 yards and four touchdowns. He has thrown just one interception.

"We haven't hurt ourselves with turnovers," Van Deusen said. "And we've taken advantage of other teams' mistakes."

Albert's receivers have done well. Matt Treese has caught nine for 116 yards and three touchdowns. Tom Stewart has caught seven for 94 yards, and Brian Benden has five catches for 53 yards and one touchdown.

The defense has produced like a typical Atholton defense.

"We bend but don't break," Van Deusen said.

Sam Corden has two of Atholton's four interceptions.

The defense has made several successful stands when opposing teams have gotten inside the 20.

And Atholton's special teams have given the Raiders consistently good field position.

Love is the only Atholton player playing both ways, a factor that keeps the Raiders fresh and enhances team morale by giving more players a chance to contribute.

"I guess this team is a lot like the 1986 team, which also was run-oriented and had a good punting game," Van Deusen said.

He's keeping his fingers crossed that the Raiders can continue their success in the league season, which they begin Thursday against Hammond.

Mount Hebron sizzles

Another football team doing better than expected is Mount Hebron.

The Vikings' 23-0 win over Sparrows Point gave them a 2-1 record -- one more win than they had last season.

The Vikings had beaten Hereford, 23-0, the week before.

"We dominated every area [against Sparrows Point] and took advantage of all opportunities," Vikings coach Mark Cates said. "The win really helped our confidence."

Mount Hebron benefited from great field position. Sparrows Point crossed the 50-yard line only once.

Brent Willhoite blocked two Sparrows Point punts that resulted in safeties, and Mike Tittsworth scored both Vikings touchdowns.

This week could end Mount Hebron's euphoria. The Vikings have to play three-time defending Class 1A state champion Wilde Lake in Thursday's league opener. Last year, the Wildecats won, 59-0.

Contact sport

Whoever thinks soccer isn't a contact sport should ask Centennial JV boys soccer coach Ron Martin.

He's sporting a large bruise under one eye this week -- the result of his participation during a team practice.

"I fell and caught a foot and was knocked out for a while," Martin said. "When I was waking up I heard one of the players say, 'I think we killed him.' "

Rule change

A new county rule has corrected some abuses of a previous rule that allowed varsity coaches to use junior varsity players in varsity games indiscriminately.

No longer will you see the junior varsity and varsity players standing together on the sidelines during games. Now, JV players can be pulled up to the varsity only if there is an TTC overriding need, such as an injury or a flu epidemic.

If there is no emergency, then once a JV player plays for the varsity, he or she must remain on the varsity for the rest of the season.

Athletic directors have the final say on what constitutes a legitimate emergency. And players still are governed by state rules limiting the number of games they can play per week.

Another rule change

Soccer games are being speeded up this season by a new rule that prohibits goalkeepers from picking up passes from teammates with their hands.

Previously, they could pick up a pass and hold it before they punted. Now, if the ball is passed back to them, they must kick it.

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