North County, Severna Park, Arundel ready to tackle playoffs

November 18, 1994|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Sun Staff Writer

Anne Arundel County's Class 4A League tri-champions -- North County, Severna Park and Arundel -- are ready to compete in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association state football playoffs this weekend.

It's only the second time that the county has landed three 4A teams in postseason play. Severna Park, Annapolis and Meade qualified in 1987.

This year's trio had 8-2 overall records, going 6-1 in league action to share the county title. Arundel beat North County, North County beat Severna Park, and the Falcons beat Arundel.

No. 7 North County has been a playoff regular in recent years while the other two haven't been there for awhile. The Knights took the East Region title and No. 4 seed by 6/100th of a point over No. 5 seed Arundel, the team it plays host to at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

No. 13 Severna Park drew the No. 6 seed and will visit No. 3 seed Largo, the Prince George's County champion (8-2, 8-0) at 7:30 tonight with the survivor playing the winner of the Sherwood and Springbrook (both 8-2) game.

North County is making its fourth consecutive playoff appearance and has gone 43-11 in its five years under coach Chuck Markiewicz (60-24 eight years overall).

Severna Park is making its fifth appearance under 22-year head coach Andy Borland (128-94), the first since 1990. The Falcons first made it in 1974, losing in the first round to Perry Hall and didn't qualify again until 1987 and 1988.

The Falcons have lost in the first round every year but 1987 when they eliminated rival Annapolis in the quarterfinals before losing to Springbrook in the semis.

Arundel is appearing for the seventh time, second only to Annapolis (a county-record eight), but it's the Wildcats' first berth since 1985 and the first under third-year head coach Bill Zucco (17-13).

Zucco was an assistant for the late Jerry Mears' state champion Arundel team in 1975, the first of two champions in county history.

Arundel will be looking for its first playoff victory since '75 when the Wildcats won two straight. Only four teams qualified then and the MPSSAA didn't change to a field of eight until 1986.

It will take a third straight victory over North County in two years for the Wildcats to move into the semifinals against the winner of No. 1 Patterson (10-0) and High Point (7-2). Arundel defeated the Knights, 28-14, this season and, 20-14, last year.

"It's always tough to beat a good team a third time in a row and even tougher to do it twice in the same year," said Zucco, who is concerned about his team's recent lack of offense.

Arundel slipped by 1-9 Meade, 8-7, on a last-minute touchdown and edged 5-5 Annapolis, 13-12, in the past two weeks. The Wildcats' defense, tops in the county (it gave up

113 points while the offense scored 205) has saved them.

Led by linebackers John Norsworthy (110 tackles) and Vince Faunteroy (85), lineman Anthony Pelfrey (80) and defensive back Mike McKnight (four interceptions), the Wildcats pride themselves in hard hitting and forcing mistakes.

"Six turnovers cost us the last game and Norsworthy controlled our offense practically by himself," said Markiewicz, whose Knights fell behind 28-0 at Arundel on Oct. 7 and never recovered.

The Knights averaged 23.9 points while giving up 12.3, but were not in their usual position of leading the county 4A teams in scoring.

Quarterback Earl Sewell (117-for-226, 1,735 yards and 15 touchdowns), receiver Lou Brown (61 receptions, 807 yards and eight touchdowns) and Topper Ellis (third in the county in rushing with 1,346 yards on 158 attempts and 13 touchdowns) pace the Knights' run-and-shoot.

The North County defense is led by linebackers Steve Tomshack (103 tackles) and Cesar Romero (72) and down linemen John Williams (89) and Mike Smith (85), and defensive back Reno Owens (five interceptions).

Severna Park coach Borland is not concerned about playing on the road tonight, but he is concerned about Largo's size.

"They've got us about 15 pounds a man, but we're pretty quick and they're going to need 14 to 21 points to beat us because they're not going to shut us out," said Borland, whose Falcons led the county in scoring, averaging 32.2 points a game.

The Prince George's 4A county champion Lions averaged 18.3 points, but only gave up 9.2 in 10 games (five shutouts).

Mark Frye (1,108 yards rushing with 15 touchdowns, 19 overall), leads a running tandem that includes Ryan Moore (486 yards, eight touchdowns) and Jermond Davenport (301 yards, four touchdowns).

There is no question that the Falcons intend to run the ball, but they also can throw if they have to with Bill Erskine (52-for-101, 876 yards, 11 touchdowns). Their opponent is similar offensively.

"Their tailback [Jason] Shupe is small [5-foot-5, 150 pounds] but has some big thighs and can run," said Borland of the Lions' leading ground gainer (1,086 yards) after watching them defeat Oxon Hill Saturday. "And their fullback [Vince Paden] is powerfully built and blocks well."

Largo is making its fourth playoff appearance (last in '92) under 24-year coach Rocco Romeo, who won a state title in 1976.

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