Passing offenses a failure for most county coaches

SIDELINES

September 11, 1994|By PAT O'MALLEY

Now that most Anne Arundel County public school football coaches have added a volunteer assistant to their staffs, surely a state title is on the way, right?

Don't bet on it as long as the local coaching fraternity remains stuck in its ancient wing-T offenses.

After being understaffed in comparison to the college-sized staffs employed in Montgomery County, Anne Arundel County officials approved adding a volunteer coach after last season. County football teams now are allowed five paid coaches plus a volunteer.

But even if the local teams added six coaches, it isn't going to make any difference in terms of state titles until they start throwing the ball more.

North County's Chuck Markiewicz brought the run-and-shoot to the county in his final year at Meade six years ago and has refined the attack in five years at North County. Unfortunately, there have been no copy cats among the old guard who are truly set in their ways.

Anne Arundel County has won only two state football championships compared to 28 by Montgomery, which has won three in each of the last two seasons. The two Anne Arundel coaches who accomplished the feat are the late Jerry Mears at Arundel (1975) and the late Al Laramore at Annapolis (1978).

Over the last three years, North County has resembled a state champion while rolling through its county schedule. The Knights led the county in scoring in 1991 and 1992 and were second to state 2A runner-up Southern (366-311, regular season) last year, including a 40-6 romp over highly regarded Annapolis.

The Knights went into last year's state 4A playoffs with perhaps their best overall squad offensively and defensively. They looked like a team more than capable of going all the way, only to get hammered by eventual state champion Watkins Mill of Montgomery County, 30-6.

Southern got to the final in 2A and dropped a 13-6 heart-breaker to Damascus (yes, another Montgomery County team) in a driving rain at College Park. Frustrating?

Absolutely, but in analyzing why Anne Arundel teams don't win state football titles, Southern is not a good example of what I'm talking about because the Bulldogs play in just a four-team county league (3A Broadneck and 2A teams, Northeast and South River).

The 4A league of eight county teams is where questions come in. Why don't they win state titles? Why hasn't apparently powerful North County won it all?

It's very simple -- not enough diversification locally. North County sticks out like a sore thumb with its run-and-shoot in the 4A league while the rest of the league runs and runs and runs out of the wing-T or the I.

For years, preparing for Severna Park was preparing for Annapolis or Glen Burnie and so on. The coaches can say what they want about different formations, which only serve as camouflage, because the philosophy is the same. Keep it on the ground, preferably off-tackle and establish power.

Anne Arundel teams, except for North County, try to set up the pass with the run. The Knights set up the run with the threat of, or barrage of, passes.

If a team prepared for one county 4A team, it prepared for them all, except for North County. The local coaches work overtime the week they face the Knights.

In contrast, the Knights can expect essentially the same old jazz, week in and week out, and rarely have to work OT on their game plan. That is, until they get to the playoffs. Obviously the fear of a sophisticated passing scheme is on the minds of the North County defenders, who don't have to worry about that much during the season.

Watkins Mill dominated North County last year. If Markiewicz had more teams like that to prepare for during the season, you wonder if the Knights would be hanging a state championship banner in their new stadium.

If not North County, then possibly another county 4A team would be.

Markiewicz brought the offense of the '90s to the county, but other than Broadneck's Jeff Herrick, there have been no imitators. That's too bad because the county offense of the '80s has produced zilch.

They look great up and down and around Ritchie Highway, but not elsewhere. You've got to change with the times, and I just wish county coaches would.

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