6-1 Havre de Grace defying odds on football field

October 23, 1994|By Mark Hoeflich | Mark Hoeflich,Special to The Sun

The Havre de Grace football team is proof that sheer numbers of players don't guarantee victories.

Before the season, the Warriors had just 19 players and that total dropped even more (14) by their first scrimmage.

But at 6-1 overall and 5-1 in the county after beating John Carroll, 14-10, Thursday, the Warriors have beaten the odds and made believers out of the coaches.

"It is definitely a surprise to the coaches because of our numbers and some of the injuries we've had," said coach Tom Marron. "But the kids believe in themselves so it's not a surprise to them. They thought they had a playoff team coming into this season and we may get that."

After finishing 2-8 a year ago and returning such a small number this year, Havre de Grace perhaps was overlooked by many.

But a consistent running game behind running backs Mike Wood (junior) and Ardia White (senior) and great support among the now 22 players going both ways, have the Warriors tied for the lead in the Harford County league with C. Milton Wright and Aberdeen.

"The teams we've beaten we just went out there and played our hardest and we feel we can beat anybody in the county," said White.

Said Marron: "Last year we had 27 players and we thought were we going to go great guns because we had nine starters back from the year before that went 6-4. But last year was a big disappointment.

"Now we don't have as many starters back and with the numbers low we hadn't expected to do this well. But it's a strange game sometimes."

Wood and Scott have been the workhorses in the backfield, combining for nearly 800 yards rushing, while junior quarterback Billy Jackson is ranked second in the county with 554 yards and five touchdowns.

"Billy throws a lot of long passes and he completes a lot of them, so the passing game opens up the running game," said Wood.

Marron added that Havre de Grace has received strong play from seniors John Clark and Matt Caine on both offense and defense.

While the Warriors' defense isn't ranked among the county's best, giving up an average of 273 yards, Havre de Grace has managed to win by taking advantage of opponents' mistakes. It has scored 36 of its last 70 points off turnovers.

White also said the Warriors have been stepping up on second down and forcing third-and-long situations for their opponents.

Except for a late September meeting with C.M. Wright, Bel Air figured to be the only test for the Warriors to this point.

Havre de Grace beat the Bobcats, 28-18, two weeks ago, and now the true test will come over the next three weeks, when the Warriors face Joppatowne, Fallston and Aberdeen to finish out the season. Friday's game against Joppatowne will have a lot of Class 1A North region playoff implications for both teams.

"The coaches know it is still a tough road ahead and we know we could lose the rest of our games," said Marron.

Just how far do these Warriors think they can go?

"Hopefully we can go to the playoffs and once you get there you never know what can happen," he said.

"Everybody just wants to make the playoffs," said White. "For the seniors it's their last year and they just want to have the best season Havre de Grace has ever had."

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