The sounds of success for Sanford

September 29, 1994|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Sun Staff Writer

Sometimes parents do know what's best for their teen-agers. Atholton fullback and linebacker Jon Sanford is happy now that he let his father talk him into playing football this season.

How do you say no when that father, Ed, is president of the Columbia Bulldogs, your town's youth football league?

"I told my dad I wanted to concentrate on my music this fall, but my dad told me he thought I needed to do something real disciplined like football," Sanford said. "He said I'd have the rest of my life to play music."

Sanford (5 feet 10 and 190 pounds) is a multi-talented 16-year-old junior whose first love is music. He plays the saxophone in the school's symphonic and jazz ensembles, sings in the school's jazz choir and played Tyrone Jackson -- the lead role in "Fame," a musical put on by the school last spring. He also has his own five-piece jazz group called Take Five.

But he's also making some sweet music on the football field.

He's primarily a blocking back for Atholton's top running back, Ricky Trott. But Sanford has rushed 25 times for 165 yards and a team-leading three touchdowns. As an outside linebacker he has three solo tackles, five assists and two fumble recoveries.

Atholton is 3-0 as it heads into Saturday's county-league opener against Hammond, and Sanford's contributions have played a major role in that success.

His two fumble recoveries last week set up both touchdowns in a 14-10 victory over Stephen Decatur. He scored one of the touchdowns.

"He's done so well that he enabled us to go from a one-back offense to a two-back offense," Raiders coach Don Van Deusen said. "He's done a good job blocking and carrying."

Sanford said he likes blocking for Trott, with whom he played on the Bulldogs, and likes knowing that Trott can depend on him to open a hole. But he's even happier now that he's gotten an opportunity to run himself.

"I like running and scoring," Sanford said.

His freshman season at Atholton he played mostly defense. But his sophomore season he was a running back until he broke a finger on his right hand the second game of the season. He couldn't play again that year.

His music also suffered. The injury cost him a chance to make the state band that conducts auditions in November. But his sax playing has received the highest rating possible from the Maryland Band Director's Association.

Last week against Stephen Decatur he broke the small finger on his right hand. He has been cleared to continue playing football, but once more he can't play the sax. The state band tryout again is looking doubtful.

"He made sure he told me I'm responsible for that," Ed Sanford said. "But my thinking is that he has a lot to offer football and football has a lot to offer him. Too many kids today quit when things don't go their way. Too many kids are told that they only have to do what they want to do. But when they get out in the working world they'll have to do what their bosses tell them to do, so as part of his total educational process I thought he should play football.

"He thinks he's going to be the next John Coltrane, but music is extremely competitive, and I told him to keep as many irons in the fire as possible."

Sanford also runs indoor and outdoor track. As a freshman he finished sixth in the state indoor 55-meter high hurdles, and as a sophomore finished third in the county outdoor 110-meter high hurdles.

Musical talent runs in Sanford's family. His father plays jazz guitar and had his own band in high school. His mother, Velvet, played violin in high school. And his sister, Rachael, a freshman at Atholton, plays flute and piano in the school band. She also plays soccer and basketball.

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