Melton, Sharps sow fear in hearts of opposing coaches Severn QB, Meade RB threats to set records

High School Football Preview

September 05, 1997|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

New pages have been ordered for the county and state record books for the sections on "rushing and scoring." Whenever Severn's option quarterback, Dennard Melton, and Meade's running back, Tanardo Sharps, touch the ball this season, records will be in jeopardy.

Records that have stood for nearly 35 years could fall to one of these players, not to mention defenders left flailing after dazzling jukes.

There are a lot of similarities between these two players, most notably the attention they draw from opponents because of their abilities to score from anywhere on the field.

Each is responsible for sleepless nights by opposing coaches, who work overtime trying to devise schemes to stop them or at least contain them.

Melton and Sharps have shown magic in their feet, with instincts and moves to elude tacklers that cannot be taught.

A four-year performer, Melton is just under 6 feet and 200 pounds, while Sharps, who is playing his second varsity season, is 5-11, 180.

The former has the ability to combine power, sleek moves and 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash, while Sharps is so quick to daylight, he often goes untouched with his 4.4 speed.

They are the only two returning All-County offensive players. Sharps is just one of two returning first-team All-Metro selections, while Melton was second-team All-Metro.

"Dennard has worked hard in the weight room the last couple years and put on 20 pounds, which has made him so much stronger," said Severn coach John Beckman.

Melton set a county record for yards rushing by a QB last season with 1,282 and tied the state record for touchdowns scored (23) by a quarterback. City's Chris Smith, who also holds the state record for season rushing (1,398) by a quarterback, scored 23 touchdowns in 1987.

With 48 career touchdowns, Melton is just three short of the county record shared by Southern's Bob Stach (1964-66) and Arundel's Troy Turner (1983-85). Stach, who was a 5-10, 165-pound running back-kicker, also holds the county all-time mark for points scored with 348, followed by Turner (5-8, 170) at 316.

Melton starts the season with 300 career points and his 148 points last season rank as the county's fourth-highest total, with former Severn teammate, Rob Vereen, now playing at Navy, setting the school and county record (170) in 1994.

Another county record owned by Melton is kickoff returns for touchdowns (five), set in his freshman year of 1994, just one short of the state record set by Joppatowne's Andre Turner in 1993.

"Since that first year, nobody kicks the ball to him anymore," said Beckman, with the reminder that Melton also had two others called back in '94.

Melton, who had no kick returns for touchdowns in '95 and just one last year while getting few chances, also has 11 career interceptions. The Anne Arundel County record is 16 by South River's Tom Bresnahan (1980-82).

The University of Maryland, Navy, West Virginia and Syracuse have recruited Melton the hardest, with other interest from all the Big-10 schools, Virginia, Penn State and North Carolina. An outstanding basketball player and student, as well, he might get a chance to play both sports in college.

If football turns out to be his sport, it's likely he will become a defensive back and return kicks because he might be too short for quarterback. Also, his man-to-man defense in basketball has left those football coaches who have seen him duly impressed.

"I'm sure he would be outstanding wherever he played and don't mean to take anything away from him, but I have a problem with that league [MIAA B Conference] he plays in as compared to ours," said Severna Park's Andy Borland, the dean of county coaches in his 25th season as head coach and 35th overall.

"I personally think Sharps is better, and if I was starting an all-star team, he would be the first I would take."

Sharps set school single-season records for rushing (1,765 yards, third highest in county history) and points scored (124) and tied the school record for touchdowns (19, Roman Harrison, 1995). He is more than capable of bettering his top performances and establishing not only new county season standards, but county and state career marks.

The county season record for rushing has stood since 1964, when Severna Park's Gary Thall ran for 1,835 yards, and the career rushing record is 3,360 by Meade's Kenny Walker (1990-93).

An encore season for Sharps could break both records. (Melton ranks fifth in career rushing with 2,430 yards)

Sharps is also a serious threat to set season standards for touchdowns and total points.

In his 35 years in the county, Borland has coached or coached against the best to ever play here, including Turner and Walker.

Borland was also a Severna Park assistant to George Roberts when Thall, who started his career as a guard, ran roughshod over county defenses, and later coached Mark Frye Jr. (1992-94), who broke Thall's records for touchdowns and total points.

"Sharps is right there with all of them," said Borland. "Hartman [Jerry, former Meade coach] put him deep in their backfield, and it looked to me as if he would take a snapshot [mental] of the defense back there and run at the weakness.

"Not many backs can do that."

New Meade coach Mark Frye Sr. said Sharps reminds him of his son with his ability to cut, and calls him "very deceiving with a couple different speeds."

Pub Date: 9/05/97

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