Gamble is stopper for Maryland all-stars Former Hammond LB set for Chesapeake Classic

June 28, 1996|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

In his youth, Ron Gamble was sometimes a pushover.

"Playing football while growing up, he was always too big for teams that had kids in his age group. So he was always matched against kids who were not only older, but a lot of times more coordinated," said Ruth Gamble, whose son is a recent graduate of Hammond High.

But when Ron Gamble takes the field against Northern Virginia's all-stars for tomorrow night's fourth Chesapeake Football Classic at the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium, the 6-foot-3, 236-pound standout will be the largest of the five linebackers on Team Maryland's roster.

Gamble, a second-team All-Metro who is headed for Connecticut on a full football scholarship, stacks up well against Team Maryland's other linebackers -- Mitchell McCraw (Mount St. Joseph), Dhani Jones (Churchill), Solomon Eyere (Wheaton) and Brian Peoples (Bladensburg) -- who average 6-2, 205.

"Ron's going to get a lot of playing time. He's a big, strong kid who's going to get bigger and bigger, and he epitomizes the true athletic student who'll do anything he needs to do to get better," said C. Milton Wright's Steve Harward, coach of Maryland's linebackers.

"Ron's a run stopper and a team leader, so I expect he'll make some big plays and big hits for us -- maybe even an interception."

Thanks to a rigid diet and weight-training regimen, Gamble, who runs a 4.7-second 40-yard dash, was up to 245 before shaving off weight as a sprinter on Hammond's track team this spring.

"The weight loss, I think, was for the better, because I felt I wasn't working as hard before track season. And I think that I can get a lot quicker before college," said Gamble, who still is 16 pounds heavier than he was last summer.

"I have a greater range of footwork, and I'm in much better shape. Much tougher. I can shed blocks better, and I don't get as many scrapes and bruises."

Chosen Howard County's Co-Defensive Player of the Year, Gamble, a 3.1 student, had a team-high 28 solo tackles and three sacks for Hammond. Most of the glory, however, went to his Virginia-bound teammate Tim Spruill.

"Ron brings a mixture of excitement and power to the field, and he makes the plays," Spruill said.

While Gamble looks to leave his mark, the game is one of redemption for second-team All-Metro running back Archie Wannamaker of Mount St. Joseph.

Though Wannamaker finished as the state's No. 2 scorer with 33 touchdowns and the state's sixth-best rusher with 1,731 yards, college recruiters backed off after a Nov. 5 incident during which he was arrested and later charged with burglarizing a Randallstown area home.

After a decision his lawyer, Leonard Shapiro, called "neither an acquittal nor a conviction, but an indefinite postponement," Wannamaker was ordered to perform 500 hours of public service at a rate of eight hours weekly.

"I'm approaching this game as if it's a totally new start," said Wannamaker, 18, who set single-game state records for yardage (368) and touchdowns (seven) in a 53-18 rout of City last season.

"There will be a lot of people out here, and a lot of coaches. It's time for me to put everything behind me. To shine again. I just want to get back on the right track, be remembered as an awesome running back by taking it to another level in this game."

Other area players on the team include two-time All-Metro pick Duane Fisher, a wide receiver from C. Milton Wright, All-Metro picks Da'Vaughan Mellerson (Mount St. Joseph, lineman) and Damian Moss (Meade, defensive back) and receiver Doug Hampton (Dunbar), tight end Todd Pivec (Loyola) and lineman Terry Otto (Patterson).

Game rules call for defenses to play out of a 4-3, with the secondaries going man-to-man against an offense that must pass 40 percent of the time with only one set-back. There can be no stunting and no unbalanced lines. Northern Virginia won last year, 44-14.

Pub Date: 6/28/96

Facts and figures

What: Fourth Chesapeake Football Classic

Who: Northern Virginia senior all-stars vs. Maryland all-stars; Northern Virginia leads the series, 2-1

When: Tomorrow, 7: 30 p.m.

Where: University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium, College Park

Tickets: General admission $5, reserved $8.

Information: (301) 855-7932.

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