This year's Classic takes on new dimensions

July 22, 1994|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

If the quarterbacks scheduled to play in Sunday's second Chesapeake Football Classic are thinking "they've died and gone to heaven," as event director Jerry Franks says, then the defensive backs can expect to feel the heat of that other place.

That's because for this year's game, the field's dimensions are foreign to area high school players -- the field is 30 yards longer and 11 1/2 yards wider with a 55-yard line at midfield.

"The skilled people have a lot of room to run away from people, and I know that both teams are planning to throw the ball a lot," said Franks. "That's going to create a lot of offense, so I expect to see a lot of 50-to-60-yard plays."

The game, which pits Northern Virginia's senior all-stars against Maryland's, originally was slated for tomorrow at the University of Maryland, site of last year's classic.

But Byrd Stadium was undergoing extensive work for water damage, forcing the game to be moved to Memorial Stadium, home of Baltimore's Canadian Football League team.

The CFL field is 65 yards wide and 150 yards long, including 20-yard end zones, in contrast to the 53 1/2 -yard width and the 120-yard length the players are accustomed to.

"You can't do anything to compensate, really, you just have to hope that your defensive backs have the speed to handle it," said Fort Hill coach Mike Calhoun, who heads Team Maryland's six-member staff.

"Otherwise, it can be a very long and lonely day for the defensive backs."

If the bigger field isn't enough to encourage passing, then the rules certainly will.

Teams must run passing plays at least 40 percent of the time, with only one setback. There also can be no shifting and no unbalanced lines.

Further, the offense must emphasize the pass, or pay a price.

"If the coaches don't adhere to those rules, then they are warned four minutes before halftime -- and again at the end of the game -- that they must pass on every down after that until they have reached 40 percent," said Franks. "Failure to comply with those rules is a 5-yard penalty on the first infraction, and 10 yards after that."

Some view the conditions as further handicapping a defensive side that -- for the second straight year -- has to operate under limitations its players don't face during their high school seasons.

On defense, each team must play from a 4-3 formation with no stunting. Also, the secondary must cover man-to-man and the linemen must go nose-to-nose with offensive players.

Under those conditions last year, Team Maryland's Jason Boseck, now at Georgia Tech, completed 23 of 47 passes for 291 yards and touchdowns of 16 and 17 yards.

Despite being out-gained offensively, Northern Virginia won the game, 18-16, led by Most Valuable Player Tyrone Robinson, who had five catches for 192 yards.

"The rules for the defense work to enhance the other team's offense," said Calhoun. "I understand they have an excellent quarterback with good speed, so the pursuit angles of our linebackers will be important."

That's a personal challenge to North County's 6-foot-1, 254-pound linebacker Troy Fowlkes, The Baltimore Sun's 1993 All-Metro Defensive Player of the Year. Fowlkes, who runs a 4.5-second 40-yard --, had 196 tackles (80 solo) last season.

"I think it's better to go nose-to-nose. This is the kind of game I like to play," said Fowlkes, who is headed for the University of Maryland.

"Our defensive backs are very fast and they've been practicing against the run-and-shoot," Fowlkes added. "But it doesn't matter how fast you are if us linemen and linebackers give the quarterback nine seconds to run around back there. That's too much time, and we've got to pressure the quarterback."

Team Maryland packs quite an offensive combination, including All-Metro wide receiver Dwight Banks (City), who is headed for Penn State, and quarterback Justin Rice (North County), who completed a state-record 28 touchdowns on 62 percent passing for 2,032 yards last fall.

Banks (6-1, 180 pounds) used his 4.4 speed to catch 43 passes for 902 yards and a career-high 13 touchdowns. He had 92 receptions for 1,942 yards and 22 touchdowns during his three-year career.

"We've got some speed and we're running the same run-and-shoot offenses as I did at North County -- six plays, including some screens, with a few new wrinkles," said North County's Chuck Markiewicz, an assistant for Team Maryland.

"You might think it's an advantage for our type of offense, but it can be a disadvantage when you've got kids coming from all different types of coaching backgrounds. There's going to be a whole lot more involved in winning this game then just the wider field."

CHESAPEAKE FOOTBALL CLASSIC ROSTER

TEAM MARYLAND

Name, School, Pos., Ht., Wt., College

Jarryn Avery, North County, OL,6-5, 240, Undecided

Dwight Banks, City, WR, 6-1, 180, Penn State

Eric Bickle, Damascus, DL, 6-3, 240, Navy

Doug Bigelow, Boonsboro, LB, 6-2, 221, JMU

Chris Blue, Easton, DB, 6-0, 170, Undecided

LaVorn Colclough, Laurel, WR, 6-4, 198, Marshall

Todd Fischer, Sherwood, DL, 6-3, 265, Kent State

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