Look for more contenders in county's 4A League

September 09, 1994|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Sun Staff Writer

While Annapolis coach Roy Brown says he hasn't "heard much like we usually do this time of the year, except for some poor mouthing," it's safe to say that Anne Arundel County should be well-balanced, especially in the Class 4A League.

Only two county public school teams -- North County (4A) and Southern (2A) -- qualified for postseason play last year, but the number could double this year and two of the three private schools should contend for league titles in Baltimore.

North County once again should be among the 4A contenders, which perennially include Annapolis and Severna Park, but the expected improvement of four other teams, including Glen Burnie, everybody's dark horse, could leave the county with just one 4A representative in the state playoffs again.

"The parity should be there in our league," said Andy Borland of Severna Park, who starts his 22nd season at home at 7:30 tonight against Queen Anne's.

If that is true, it means the 4A teams will be knocking each other off and the second- and third-place teams won't have enough playoff points to qualify out of the East Region.

Broadneck (6-4 a year ago) has a legitimate shot at the Class 3A playoffs with one of the area's most prolific and talented players in receiver Jason Smith. The Bruins are the county's only 3A team and coach Jeff Herrick is guardedly optimistic about their playoff chances.

Southern coach Buck Gardner doesn't expect to match last year's 11-2 record and state 2A runner-up finish, but the 20-year coach does expect to make the playoffs again.

Gardner's Bulldogs should get more of a fight for the 2A East region berth from South River. The Seahawks of coach Dave Summey slipped to 3-7 last fall, but the likes of the speedy Russell Tongue could lead them to a turnaround.

St. Mary's lost a lot to graduation, including five three-year starters, but coach Brad Best has established such a solid program that there is no reason to believe it won't be right there in the running for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title.

Ditto in the MIAA B Conference, where Severn School should do well in league play after an uncharacteristic 4-6 record in 1993. Senior running back John Vereen is expected to ignite the Admirals' speed game and make them a contender.

Coach Chuck Markiewicz has led his Knights to the state playoffs three straight seasons in his four years at North County and a fourth berth is likely. The Knights (9-2) lost only to Arundel by 20-14 in county action last fall, but then were manhandled by Montgomery's Watkins Mill, 30-6, in the state quarterfinals.

North County rolled up 317 points in 11 games for an average of 28.8 points while giving up only 147 points, an average yield of 13.4. It was a typical North County season and can be expected again.

"Annapolis and Severna Park are always right there, but this year I wouldn't be surprised to see Glen Burnie in the running," said Markiewicz.

Annapolis, a 40-6 loser to the Knights a year ago and 7-3 overall, has a lot of potential, Brown said, but it's a matter of seasoning for the Panthers. They had their season spoiled by rival Severna Park, with the Falcons taking the season finale by 6-0 on a Mark Frye plunge.

Severna Park was also 7-3, until the spring that is, when the Falcons were given a win for their 35-28 overtime loss to Meade. Meade had an ineligible player and the Falcons were awarded the victory in the spring, too late for the playoffs.

An 8-2 record would have gotten the Falcons in the playoffs. They don't have their customary huge size, but should contend with great speed from Frye and Ryan Moore running the football.

Arundel coach Bill Zucco is hoping his Wildcats can play against North County and Severna Park as well as they did last year (they upset both of them) and better against Annapolis and Glen Burnie. Arundel was humbled by the Panthers, 36-0, and the Gophers, 20-0, on the way to a 6-4 record, the Cats' first winning season since 1985.

"You know Chuck and Roy are going to have good teams, and of course, Andy, but I tell you, I think Glen Burnie is the sleeper," said Zucco.

Gophers coach Dave Rigot would have agreed a couple weeks ago before he lost his standout quarterback Jermaine Smith with a broken thumb on his throwing hand. Glen Burnie (6-4 last year) will play at least its first two games, against DuVal and Broadneck, without Smith.

Smith could be back by the third game at Queen Anne's (3-7 last year) or by the fourth game at North County. Until then, the versatile Rocky Newton, an All-County defensive back last year, will bear the burden on both sides of the ball.

Chesapeake (4-6 last year) could be loaded and end up the surprise team of the year. Coach Tom Kraning has more experience, size, speed and the best quarterback he's had in his seven years at the school in Matt Michalowicz.

"Right now we are anxious to play and see what we can do," said Kraning, whose Cougars open at Owings Mills in Baltimore County tonight.

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