Lake Clifton has bigger goal in mind

August 25, 1994|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

After going 1-19 in the two previous seasons, last year's Lake Clifton football squad went 7-3 and narrowly missed qualifying for the 4A state playoffs.

This year, says coach David White, the Lakers want to go farther.

"We've set a goal to go all the way to the state championship," White said.

Last year's Lakers had first-quarter leads, but did not score again in losses to No. 1 Poly, 37-6, No. 5 Dunbar, 16-6, and No. 10 Patterson, 14-6. The Lakers led Patterson, which went 9-2, all but 13 minutes. They led 2A state semifinalist Dunbar, which was 9-3, all but five minutes.

"We learned that football is more than just a quarter and an early touchdown," said White, whose second-team All-City wide receiver Dennis Harding earned a full scholarship to Boston College.

"There's a maturity level that we hope will carry into this year."

With 55 players in camp, the Lakers should be more experienced.

Not only do they return 20 quality players, including 12 starters, but several athletes are up from coach James Monroe's 2A-3A-4A league champion junior varsity squad.

Monroe's team overcame a 14-0 deficit to defeat previously unbeaten Poly, 26-14. It was the Lakers' first victory over the Engineers, whose varsity team was the 3A state runner-up.

"The younger players have stepped right in," said White, whose assistants are Monroe, Russell Williams (defense) and Derrick Carver (offense).

"They're not boasting, but they're acting like veterans. And if some of our last year's starters aren't careful, they're going to be sitting instead of playing."

Like last year, the Lakers' schedule includes Poly, Patterson and Dunbar.

"We know we're not going to surprise anyone, but we have to get out and do the best we can and just play each game as it comes," White said.

But the Lakers are dangerous, beginning with speedy junior quarterback Greate White (6 feet 1, 170 pounds) whom coach White calls "a Randall Cunningham-type" of threat.

"He excels on the busted play and can make something out of nothing," White said.

"If he has a good season, our passing game and our running game will be much improved."

Running back Kenny Williams (6-2, 210), who rushed for more than 400 yards and five touchdowns last year, has improved his stock.

Williams ranked among the top 30 players at an Art Monk camp in July and is being recruited by Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Rutgers and other schools, White said.

Williams will have the luxury of running behind senior two-way lineman Tory Gilliard (6-2, 260) and a line averaging 240 pounds.

Gilliard, an All-Baltimore City defenseman in lacrosse, is a brutal tackler and the most mobile of the bunch.

Joining Gilliard is center Cameron Battle (6-0, 220) and Eric Blackwell (6-0, 270), up from the junior varsity.

Senior tight end Eric Foreman (6-1, 175) is not only among the Lakers' fastest receivers, but an excellent blocker out of Lake Clifton's power-I and pro-set attacks.

Defensively, Greate White, Williams, Battle and Gilliard will lend their talents along with senior third-year starting cornerback Mike Morris.

Coach White says Morris, who is also the place-kicker, "has a nose for the football," having picked off three passes last year.

Several small colleges and a couple of Division I programs have taken notice of Morris and cornerback Kevin Tolliver, another three-year starter who was a sprinter in track.

"There are several underclassmen who will be able to step in," White said. "We hope to take more advantage of what teams give us."

Patterson gave up a lot against Lake Clifton, but the Lakers failed to capitalize.

As a result, the Clippers were 4A league champs ahead of the runner-up Lakers, but only after overcoming a 6-0 deficit on touchdowns in which neither scorer crossed the plane of the goal.

Clippers running back Ryan Lewis stretched the ball over the goal line to tie the score at 6 just 10 seconds before the fourth period. And quarterback Willie McGirt scored on an option play with nine minutes left after sticking the ball over the goal line before his knees touched the ground.

"They've [Lakers] got most everybody back, so they'll be remembering that game," said Patterson coach Roger Wrenn, who returns 19 players.

"The hallmark of Lake Clifton is that they hustle and play hard from whistle to whistle."

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