Sabelhaus No. 1, with a bullet (pass)

August 30, 1994|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

On Page 2 of the most recent issue of SuperPrep magazine, Bobby Sabelhaus is the first preseason All-American who is profiled.

That's because the McDonogh senior is considered the best.

"This is a kid who is the best pure drop-back quarterback in the United States at this point," SuperPrep publisher Allen Wallace said of Sabelhaus, who also has been recognized by several other recruiting publications. "He's a guy who can drop back and throw a number of different passes very well and put the ball right on the money with good speed. He's as good as anybody I've seen all year."

Sabelhaus, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound All-Metro choice, lists Notre Dame, Tennessee, Michigan, Maryland, Boston College, Florida, Florida State, Virginia, Duke, Ohio State and Wisconsin among his college preferences. He is one of the area's most highly recruited quarterbacks ever.

"I've received four or five scholarship offers from different schools and, of course, I want to play big-time football. It's something I've dreamed about since I was a little boy," said Sabelhaus, 18, who stood 6 feet tall and could palm a basketball as a seventh-grader.

It didn't take Sabelhaus long to add new McDonogh coach Dom Damico to his fan club.

"I had heard about him just from college coaches I'm friends with, but when I got to see him, he really impressed me," said Damico, from Cardinal Dougherty High in Philadelphia, where he was athletic director and coached football and track.

Damico, a 1986 graduate of Temple University where he played football and was an assistant coach for three years, was voted 1992 Catholic Coach of the Year at Dougherty.

"In my opinion, he'd start at most colleges as a freshman because his skills are incredible," said Damico. "He can move like a 6-foot-2 guy and throws the ball like an NFL quarterback. I've never seen anyone this good in a high school."

Sabelhaus has spent two seasons engineering perhaps the state's best run-and-shoot program.

He threw for 1,908 yards and 19 touchdowns last season, leading the Eagles to a 9-0 record, the area's No. 2 ranking and the Maryland Interscholastic Association A Conference crown. A two-time All-Baltimore City selection, Sabelhaus passed for 1,925 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore to help McDonogh to a 7-3 season after being 2-8 the year before.

"Obviously, his statistics demonstrate what a productive guy he is, but they're not that important in my eyes," said SuperPrep's Wallace. "He's got a quick drop-back with an excellent arm and is extremely accurate. He also reads defenses well and handles pressure well -- which are important qualities in a quarterback."

Sabelhaus, who also is being recruited for basketball, needs 1,646 yards to break the state passing record of 5,478, set by 1969 John Carroll graduate Al Neville.

It doesn't hurt that he's the senior class president, a 3.0 student and scored 1,250 on his Scholastic Assessment Test.

"The recruiting process has been almost overwhelming. I mean, Bobby's getting called daily and averages about five or six letters a day," said his father, Robert Sabelhaus Sr. "We've gotten several phone calls from Florida, Maryland, Florida State, Duke, Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Boston College, which all seem very interested."

The excitement about Sabelhaus comes as no surprise to Mike Working, his coach for the past two years before taking over at Mount St. Joseph last spring.

"Bobby's right on target with what I expected and exactly the player I thought he'd be. He's got everything you need to be a big-time college quarterback," said Working, who sent highlight films of Sabelhaus to 45 colleges. "He's a very accurate deep passer, which is one of the first things a college coach looks for."

Working left McDonogh in May after his two sons were expelled fromthe school for allegedly attacking a student in retaliation for hazing incident involving one of the Working boys during a baseball preseason camp in Florida.

"People are going to keep reminding him that Mike Working is not there. We're still very close, but I think the toughest thing Bobby has to face is not worrying about that," said Working, whose Gaels play McDonogh on Oct. 8.

Working says it's no coincidence that, with Sabelhaus calling the shots, McDonogh has won 14 in a row, eight by coming from behind in the fourth quarter. Four of those were one-point victories.

"Bobby knows how to execute and win close games in pressure situations," Working said. That ability will come in handy since, for the first time, he'll be without the man he credits with getting him where he is.

"McDonogh's lost its football coach, and there had been talk of some guys wanting to transfer," Sabelhaus said. "It's been a growing experience that some kids go through and the whole team has grown.

"It's great to be this widely known, and my dad's always telling me that there are a thousand guys who want to be in this position. But I feel a tremendous responsibility to the team. I'd like to be a leader on a winning team, and I won't be satisfied unless I do that."

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