Westminster fortunes could rise

September 01, 1994|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

There is a new coach, new hope and a lot of beef at Westminster High.

South Carroll is tuning up what could be one of the top aerial shows in the state.

A surprising 84 players turned out for football at Francis Scott Key, including one (offensive tackle John Frech) who stands 6 feet 2 and weighs 240.

At Liberty, coach Ken Johnson is settling into his second season with a lot more players to work with and a team that has much more of an idea how to run the wing-T offense.

Second-year North Carroll coach Bill Rumbaugh said his team will live or die on the ability of its offensive line to provide blocking in the wing-T.

That is the high school football scene in Carroll County as the five schools enter their third week of workouts.

The new man running the show at Westminster is Tim Ebersole, who comes to the school after eight years as an assistant football coach at Lebanon Valley College.

During the past four years at Lebanon Valley, Ebersole, 33, was the team's assistant head coach and offensive coordinator.

"It had to be the right situation for me to leave the college environment," said Ebersole. "Westminster is a first-class operation with complete support from the administration."

Ebersole said the Westminster players are responding well to his multiple-I offense, discipline and hard-work ethic. It appears that he is walking into a coaching situation that could make him look very good real soon.

There are not a whole lot of high school teams anywhere that can send a team on the field with a 6-6, 305-pound offensive tackle (senior Jim Stull). Stull will be surrounded by a good bit of bulk on the offensive line, including tackle (6-2, 265-pound senior Jed Harris) and senior tight end Mat Mathias (6-5, 235).

Harris, Mathias and center Matt Study are returning first-team All-Carroll County selections who are expected to provide blocking for smooth quarterback Steve Mays (6-0, 185).

"I don't believe you'll find too many high school teams that are physically stronger than we are," said Ebersole.

Westminster was 4-6 last season, including a 14-7 victory over South Carroll that gave the Owls the county championship.

South Carroll was 4-6 last season despite a 4-1 start and some superb passing by All-Carroll County quarterback Tom Luster to wide receiver Tom Lapato and running back Greg Mihalko (the county's Offensive Player of the Year).

All three return and will receive a major boost from senior wide receiver Bryan Herche, who has been the most pleasant surprise in workouts.

"Why shouldn't we throw the ball a lot?" said Cavaliers coach Gene Brown. "Tom Luster has more experience now and he has two exceptional wide receivers [Lapato and Herche] to throw to instead of one."

At Francis Scott Key, coach Mike Coons continues to work at transforming the Eagles from a perennial loser into a respectable team in the tough Monocacy Valley Athletic League.

And he is getting results.

Key went 3-7 last season and now has enough players that it can field a freshman team.

Besides the 240-pound Frech, the Eagles have a scintillating runner in senior Chris Richardson (5-11, 195).

Richardson scored three touchdowns in a five-minute second-quarter show against North Hagerstown last season.

"When Chris Richardson gets mad," said Coons, "he can put a hurting on you."

Just how much farther ahead of last season at this time is Liberty?

"We're light-years ahead," said Johnson, whose players still are battling to perfect the wing-T he installed last season. "We're getting it down. A lot of our kids went to a camp at Gettysburg College this summer and studied the wing-T extensively."

Johnson and the Lions had to wait until the last game of the season last year to get their only win.

The major surprises for Liberty in the early workouts have been junior defensive lineman Jimmy Smutek (5-8, 240) and junior running back Bobby Shaffer.

For North Carroll, the past two years have failed to produce a victory.

"I'm putting the pressure on the offensive line to set the tone for us," said Rumbaugh. "The attitude we have is to go 1-0 each week."

Senior offensive guard Bill Beltz, an All-Carroll County choice last season, anchors the offensive line and is one of the few high-profile players for the Panthers.

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