Preseason Top 15 Local Sports: High School Football Preview

September 08, 1995

1. Mount St. Joseph -- The Gaels, last year's No. 4-ranked team and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference co-champ with Gilman, return 16 starters from an 8-1 squad. The two-year totals of junior QB Lucas Phillips (2,585 passing yards, 23 TDs) have him on pace to break the state passing yardage record (5,826 yards). Also returning are RB Archie Wannamaker (1,009 rushing yards, 11 TDs) and second-team All-Metro WR Danny Rosewag, who had nearly 1,000 receiving yards for 10 TDs. Led by DeVaughan Mellerson, Riverdale Baptist transfer Ben Dyer and tight ends Gary Moore and Loren Phillips, the Gaels' linemen average 245 pounds offensively and 235 defensively.

2. North County -- The 4A state champion Knights begin the year ranked higher than ever and for good reason. Offensively five two-year starters return in receivers Corey Wright (jr., 19 receptions, 248 yards, one TD), Ryan Ross (sr., nine receptions, 158 yards, two TDs), Chris Mangum (jr., 27 receptions, 349 yards, three TDs) and Maurice Bowie (sr., 15 receptions, 219 yards, one TD), along with junior G Richard Allen, one of three 230-pound junior linemen. Junior QB Mike Evans is a Glen Burnie transfer whom sixth-year coach Chuck Markiewicz calls "technically the best we've had." Defensively, Bowie and CB Cornelius Burley are three-year starters. Two-year starting S Toney Fowlkes, younger brother of 1993 All-Metro Defensive Player of the Year Troy Fowlkes, is an All-Metro track performer. LB Cesar Romero returns for his third year. "The secondary and our receivers are probably our strength at this point," said Markiewicz, who is 46-11 at North County (63-24 overall). "At this point, we're better than we were last year."

3. City -- City, a 2A program after going 8-2 at 3A last year, returns its entire backfield of junior QB Mike Johnson, junior RB Taber Small (1,200 yards, 12 TDs) and All-City senior RB Damian Beane (935 yards, 12 TDs). They'll run behind a line that is anchored by C Chris Perkins and OG Quantay Johnson. Also back are WR-DB Kevin Griffin (14 receptions, five TDs) and second-team All-City LB Jemini Jones, last year's top tackler who bench presses over 300 pounds. "I like what I see," said coach George Petrides.

4. Dunbar -- Dunbar went 12-0 last year, finishing as the city's first state champ and with the area's No. 1 ranking. Although 17 seniors, including four All-Metros and one second-teamer, have graduated, the Poets return senior All-Metro Defensive Player of the Year Tommy Polley, who has 42 career sacks. Senior QB Anthony Wiggins (1,571 passing yards, 10 TDs) returns, as does junior RB Ali Culpepper, who rushed for 1,072 yards and six TDs and returned four punts for TDs. The Poets also boast two-way linemen Deon Johnson, Dwayne Green and Antar Simsel. But coach Stanley Mitchell has questions about his depth that should be answered early by a tough schedule of opponents from outside of the area, including Archbishop Carroll, ranked No. 4 preseason by The Washington Post.

5. Poly -- The Engineers graduated three All-Metros and a second-teamer who made up the bulk of their offense and defense, but return a corps of linemen who average 260 pounds -- C Mike Bayne, DG/OT Anthony Mason, OT Nick Ramey and OG Andre Rollins. Behind a massive line, RB Willie Hudson and RB John Pierre will be "the two biggest backs we've had in a long time," said Waibel. LB Mike Brown is the top returning defenseman from last year's 9-2 squad.

6. Gilman -- Gilman tied Mount St. Joseph for last year's MIAA A title. But gone from the Greyhounds' lineup is the most explosive offense the school has seen in years. QB Russell Wrenn, the son of Patterson coach Roger Wrenn, should step right in for graduated second-team All-Met Lorne Smith, and linemen Whit Warlow, John Battaglia, Chase Martin, and LBs Packer Rodgers and John Wise will try to lead Gilman in a return to defensive dominance. "We have some offensive linemen who block very well, and we like the way Wrenn throws," said coach Sherm Bristow. "Plus, we hope to be better defensively."

7. Oakland Mills -- The Howard County champs and 2A state semifinalists are loaded with talent, beginning with second-team All-Metro QB Irving Conwell, one of four returning All-Howard County players and 10 starters. Conwell passed for 1,301 yards and nine TDs. RB/DB Fardan Carter rushed for 291 yards, had 321 more as a receiver, and had 292 yards on kickoff returns. FB/LB Brian Howard (51 tackles, 202 yards rushing) and DB Casey Moffett (four interceptions, 46 tackles) make the Scorpions the best team in the county. Howard, is a 3.9 student, scored 1,380 on the SAT and is being recruited by a number of Division I programs.

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