High School Football Preview

September 05, 1997|By Rick Belz

Atholton Raiders

1996 record: 7-3 overall, 7-2 league

Coach: Kevin Kelly (career: 14-6)

Classification: 2A

Top players: Lamar Porter, Sr., RB; Sean Aaron, Jr., RB; Ryan Lambert, Sr., QB/WR/DB; Wade Zancan, Sr., QB/DB; Matt Martiny, Sr., QB/DB; Matt Kensinger, Sr., T; Matt Pearce, Jr., T; Jared Albert, Sr., TE; Chris Shead, Sr., WR/DB.

Outlook: The Raiders won their last six games last fall but missed the playoffs despite a second straight 7-3 season. Expectations are lower this season with enrollment dropping because of last year's opening of River Hill, plus the graduation of 19 seniors. "We lost a lot of size and speed," Kelly said. "We only have three sophomores in our entire program, so lack of depth is a problem." Atholton has only 22 varsity players. Porter was third in rushing for Atholton with 287 yards on 39 carries. Lambert, Zancan and Martiny are battling for the QB spot. Kensinger and Pearce, a newcomer, are sound linemen, but the Raiders have only six linemen. "Lambert, Porter and Aaron are our strength because they are such good athletes," Kelly said. "The questions are, can we support them and can we stay healthy?"

Centennial Eagles

1995 record: 7-3 overall, 6-3 league

Coach: Ed Holshue (career: 80-86)

Classification: 2A

Top players: Drew Cothran, Sr., TE/ DE; John Anacker, Sr., RB/DE; Justin Rix, Sr., G/NG; Alonzo Lewis, Sr., FB/LB; Patrick Johnson, Sr., FB/LB; Keith Williams, Sr., RB/CB; Matt Deuchler, Jr., F/SS; Mike Von Paris, Jr., G; Don Swann, Jr., QB; P. J. Paolisso, Sr., QB.

Outlook: The Eagles shoot for their fourth straight winning season after just missing the playoffs last season. They return eight starting players who will fill a combination of three offensive positions and seven defensive positions. TB Williams rushed for 635 yards and nine touchdowns in six games. The team is strong at the skill positions, at linebacker and defensive end. It has some inexperience on the offensive and defensive lines and in the secondary. "This is our quickest team since I've been here," said Holshue. "Depth is not a problem. We have 25 players I'm not afraid to use. And we have nine interior linemen I'm not afraid to use. I like my team, and we want to win the county championship. We're solid in all areas, and our kicking game is much improved." It has been 17 years since the Eagles made their only playoff. They are hoping to end that streak. They have also never beaten Wilde Lake and would like to end that streak. Centennial is a county title contender.

Glenelg Gladiators

1996 record: 4-6 overall, 4-5 league

Coach: John Davis (career: 2-8)

Classification: 1A

Top players: Eric Krause, Sr., OT/ DE; David Williams, Sr., OG/DE; Whit Faris, Sr., RB/DB; Kendall Stewart, Sr., RB/S; Andy Dana, Sr., E/DB; Chip Horman, Sr., FB/LB; Maurice Mohammed, Sr., RB/LB; Zach McQuigg, Soph., QB; Todd Travis, Sr., QB, RB/DB; Spence Baxter, Jr., OG/LB; Justin Kramer, Sr., C/DT.

Outlook: The Gladiators have gone from 22 players last season to 33 this season. They return six starters on offense and eight on defense, so experience is a plus. Their leading tackler, Horman (65 unassisted, 35 assists, three fumble recoveries, one interception), is back. Stewart (362 yards rushing) shows excellent promise at RB. Kramer, 6-2, 265 pounds, transferred from River Hill and helps the line that already has Krause (6-4, 250) and Williams (6-0, 210) returning and welcomes newcomer Baxter (6-1, 220). "We'll have the ability to open up our wing-T this year, after running the ball 95 percent last year, so that should help us," Davis said. "We'll be as good as our passing. We have more speed, but lack of speed is still a weakness. Our mood is upbeat and positive as we anticipate a good year. We're excited to be Class 1A. Our motivation is to make states."

Hammond Golden Bears

1996 record: 4-6 overall, 4-5 league

Coach: Joe Russo (career: 112-79)

Classification: 1A

Top players: Tom Brown, Sr., LB; Randy Curtin, Sr., FB/LB; Jamar Wise, Sr., RB/DB; Antwaan Oliver, Sr., QB/DB; Matt Nelson, Jr. C/DT; Calvin Wilmer, Jr., RB; Byron Whisnant, Sr., TE/DE; Kevin Webb, Sr. LB; Jason Boyd, Sr., TE/SS; Steve Daniell, Sr., OG; Austin Smith, Sr., K/P.

Outlook: The Bears have 17 returnees. Nelson and Daniell are strong on the offensive line. Brown is a hard-hitting LB. "We are fundamentally sound and enthusiastic. Our strength will be our experience. Our weakness will be lack of speed," said Russo, who starts his 20th season at Hammond as the Bears' first- and-only head coach. "We'll be a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust team. When we throw, it will probably be play-action. We need to improve defensively and be more consistent offensively. Nelson is one of the best players in the county, a Division I prospect. I'm predicting we have a 7-3 record." The Bears drop from 2A to 1A, enhancing their playoff hopes.

Howard Lions

1996 record: 3-7 overall, 3-6 league

Coach: Vince Parnell (career: 18-32)

Classification: 2A

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