Hartman instills winning attitude at Meade Leads Mustangs to first playoff trip since 1987

November 17, 1995|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

It's five minutes before a major early-season test on the road for the Meade football team.

The players have already been on the field several minutes going through final preparations for Severna Park when a tall, slender man wearing shorts casually strolls toward the Meade sideline.

He looks as if he's out for a leisurely morning walk, yet he walks into the middle of the Meade players and begins talking quietly to them.

He couldn't be the coach, right?

He's not yelling or giving any fiery speeches.

This guy must be the trainer or just an interested observer of Meade football.


It is head coach Jerry Hartman.

He's the man who was given the task three years ago of reviving a floundering Meade football program.

The same Jerry Hartman who was an assistant football coach at eight colleges over 21 years, including two stints at the Naval Academy, after starting as a defensive back for the University of Michigan.

The Jerry Hartman who once coached former NFL great Jack Lambert as a middle linebacker at the University of Washington.

No wonder the Meade players were taking in every word Hartman was saying that evening before the Severna Park game.

Jerry Hartman, 49, knows football.

And now the Mustangs know football and have learned how to win.

A 7-3 record this season and the school's first trip to the state Class 4A playoffs since 1987 are proof of that.

The long wait for a return to the playoffs will be over tonight at 7:30 when the Mustangs run up against third-ranked Arundel (10-0) at Arundel.

Meade had a six-game winning streak to earn a playoff berth despite losses at the end of the season to North County and Arundel.

"I told our players we became a good football team this season," said Hartman. "But to get to the next level we have to win a big game."

North County, which won the state 4A championship last year, and Arundel were big games.

Tonight's Arundel game is even bigger.

Hartman will fully prepare his players for Arundel and then hope for the best.

Preparation, hard work, a year-round weight program and believing in your ability to win are the ground rules for success, according to Hartman.

His top player, senior running back Roman Harrison, has had overwhelming success because he goes on the field prepared to win, Hartman said.

Harrison has established school single-season records for touchdowns (19), points scored (122) and yards rushing (1,562).

He scored five touchdowns in a 36-20 victory over Glen Burnie on Oct. 20, and had a banner game against Severna Park on Sept. 29 when he ran for 200 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries in a 26-19 win over the Falcons.

The performance against Severna Park seemed to give Harrison a newfound belief in himself and he has been virtually unstoppable since.

But he hasn't been a one-man show.

Quarterback Malwan Johnson, linebacker Wilson Rodriguez, defensive back Damion Moss and tight end Elijah Thurman have all been outstanding.

Now it's on to the playoffs, and Hartman is loving every minute of his life on the high school football sidelines.

"I never knew football players wore so many pads until I came to Meade to coach," he said. "I have to inventory all the equipment every year, which is a lot different from college coaching where someone else always did that. There are a lot more responsibilities coaching high school football than college, but I wanted to settle down and stay in one place when my kids got older [son Chad and daughter Jennifer]. I was moving every three years at the college level."

More than 100 boys came out for the team this season, up significantly from past years when the program was in decline after the departure of Chuck Markiewicz.

"Jerry has given these kids pride," said Meade basketball coach Butch Young. "He works hard and isn't as laid-back as you might think. He'll get in your face once in a while."

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