Football turns Norsworthy around

October 14, 1994|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Sun Staff Writer

Discipline might have turned Arundel junior linebacker John Norsworthy into one of the county's best defensive players.

Norsworthy's spirited play has been a prominent part of the 13th-ranked Wildcats' 4-1 start.

With Norsworthy as the catalyst, the Wildcats have become one of the county's most feared defensive units.

Arundel has given up fewer points (52) than any county Class 4A team while scoring 106. Only Class 3A Broadneck (3-1) has given up fewer (33) but the Bruins' total is over four games.

"John is a tough-nosed kid who loves to hit," said Arundel coach Bill Zucco. "The kids look to him this year.

"A year ago, he was undisciplined but now he's more disciplined, playing under control and has a better smell for the ball. He's been in on over 60 tackles and I don't fudge on figures like that."

Norsworthy admits that he was undisciplined on and off the football field last year as Arundel posted its first winning season (6-4) since 1985. Football demands discipline, and Norsworthy soon learned that.

"Football has straightened me out," said Norsworthy. "I got into hanging out with a bad crowd and wasn't applying myself in the classroom. After playing youth football in Crofton for about eight years, I didn't play at Arundel in ninth grade and missed it.

"Last year was a difficult year because I was academically ineligible when we started and missed a few games, and I started on and off.

"Then, I got away from hanging out and realized that I needed to do better in school so I could play from the start. Football has really helped me."

And Norsworthy has really helped the Wildcats, anchoring the hard-hitting defensive unit that takes pride in punishing ball carriers.

"Our whole teams hits hard," said Norsworthy, who led the Wildcats to a 28-14 win over then No. 4 defending county champion North County.

Norsworthy was in on 15 tackles, had two sacks and caused a couple fumbles. He and his teammates served notice in the early moments that they came to play, causing four turnovers that led to four unanswered first-half touchdowns.

Only 5 feet 10 and 175 pounds, Norsworthy plays much bigger and administers ferocious takedowns.

Norsworthy was in the North County backfield most of the night, harassing quarterback Earl Sewell and back Topper Ellis. When the Knights got off a pass, it seemed like he was always around the ball.

The week before in a 26-14 triumph over Chesapeake, Norsworthy was in on 18 tackles.

"Coach [Jeff] Karr [defensive coordinator] gets us all pumped up and we try to outdo each other," said Norsworthy.

"We're having a lot of fun because we're winning, but we're not getting big-headed about it. And we don't talk trash.

"Coaches Zucco and Karr told us that guys talk trash when they're scared. We're not scared."

Norsworthy calls the defensive signals after getting the cue from Karr and loves it when Karr flashes the blitz.

"I love the blitz and love it when it's just me and the guy with the ball," said Norsworthy.

Zucco believes Norsworthy can play in college at the Division II or III level. Now that Norsworthy has disciplined himself academically and athletically, it has become his goal.

"High school football is the best thing that ever happened to John," said Zucco.

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