Johnson stays on the unbeat at Liberty

CARROLL SPORTS

October 20, 1993|By BILL FREE

How does a man who has never had a losing high school football season in nine years of coaching deal with seven straight losses to start a season at a new school?

Some coaches may rant, rave and throw things. Others might blame the players, and a few may come close to going off the deep end.

Some might simply withdraw.

But not first-year Liberty coach Ken Johnson.

Johnson's pride is obviously hurt and he is dying on the inside. But on the outside he is doing all the right things to accomplish his goal of turning the downtrodden Lions football program around.

He is communicating daily with his players and maintaining a positive outlook every time he steps on the practice and playing field.

The coach who won a state football championship at Randallstown in 1984 and was 73-26 before coming to Liberty is building from the bottom up like all successful coaches do.

Before Liberty even played a game, Johnson said he was going to emphasize the undersquads at the school because those players would make or break him in the future.

The Lions' junior varsity is 7-0.

He said he would try his best to make the varsity a winner immediately but realized how tough that would be with traditional powers such as Thomas Johnson, Linganore and Frederick in the Central Maryland Conference along with always tough county rivals South Carroll and Westminster.

Also, Johnson has not been afraid to make bold moves with his young players, moving sophomores such as quarterback Ryan Jones up to the varsity and starting them right away. He is truly developing his young players to the fullest.

The man they call "Speedy" is also sticking with his Delaware wing-T offense through thick and thin.

"He's going to make a difference in that program," said South Carroll coach Gene Brown. "He'll bring the best out of those players. He's a positive person, just like his dad [Reg Johnson, Liberty assistant] is. Reg is a big-time positive guy and he's been with Speedy at Chesapeake of Baltimore County and now at Liberty. All Speedy needs is the opportunity."

Johnson admitted he was down last Friday night after Liberty was shut out by Einstein, 23-0, but he said he bounced back quickly to plunge forward in his task.

The coach called a team meeting of the unbeaten junior varsity and the winless varsity on Monday to point out a few things to the players.

"I told them one part of our program is perfect [junior varsity] and another part [0-7 varsity] can't do anything right," said Johnson. "I was drawing a little paradox. I told them both teams run the same offense and defense, have the same coaches and the same attitude and I was trying to figure out why it wasn't working for the varsity."

The Lions' boss said the varsity has been plagued by its inability to throw the ball.

The running has been OK with three young backs with over 300 yards rushing.

Sophomore Brandon Scarborough leads the way with 535 yards and juniors Terry Rheubottom and Eric Cook are both over 300 yards.

Current starting quarterback Darnell Brockington is also a junior, giving Johnson a lot of experience coming back next season at the skilled positions.

It's just that next season is a long way away when a coach is accustomed to going to the playoffs almost every year.

"It's hard to be positive right now," said Johnson. "But I have to be that way."

That is what makes Ken Johnson a winner and should make Liberty a winner in the near future.

Wolff begins career at UMBC

Amy Wolff, Liberty High's three-sport star last season, has already started her softball career at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Wolff had two triples and a double in a fall scrimmage game against Anne Arundel Community College. One of those triples came with the bases loaded.

Wolff also stole a base.

When the Retrievers scrimmaged Towson State, Wolff was in center field and batted cleanup.

At Liberty last year, Wolff was the girls soccer Player of the Year in Carroll County and was an outstanding basketball and softball player.

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