Cavaliers give fans renewed faith Football: At 3-1, Archbishop Spalding is off to its best start in a dozen years, the last time the school had a winning season. Is 7-0 in the conference possible?

October 03, 1997|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

After stopping a two-point conversion attempt with 25 seconds left to preserve a 14-13 victory over Calvert County's Patuxent on Sept. 19, Archbishop Spalding's football team was treated to a surprising sight.

The Cavaliers were shocked to see a crowd of nearly 300 students and fans waiting at their locker-room door.

It was an unfamiliar sight and reaction for the Severn-area football team. Wins have not been common for the Cavaliers, who have had but one winning season.

But they could be on the way to number two in this, their 14th campaign.

"To see all those kids waiting for us after the game was special," said first-year coach John Moscato, who hopes there will be more reasons to show pride in Spalding football.

"The players believe in themselves, believe they can win and win on a regular basis, and I believe our students and fans feel the same way."

At 3-1, including only its second win ever since 1985 over Boys Latin (25-6 last week), Spalding is off to its best start since going 2-2 in its only winning season of 1987.

"Our goal was to have a winning season, but now 7-0 [in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference] is not unattainable," said Moscato, who promised in pre-season that his team would surprise.

Under coach Gary Lyle, the Cavaliers went 6-4 in 1987, but it took five more seasons and two coaches to win six games.

Coming into this fall, Spalding football was 32-93-1 overall under six different coaches in its 13 seasons of football. Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Famer Doc Bartlinski, a former pro coach, kicked off the program in 1984, going 4-4 followed by 0-9-1 and 5-5 seasons before his assistant Lyle took the reins in 1987.

After his successful inaugural, Lyle fell on hard times, going 2-8 and 0-9 and was replaced by Greg Fuhrman (2-16-1, two years). Del Hughes (6-24, three years), Pat Terhes (3-7-1) and Jim Nemeth (4-7) followed.

When Nemeth, who won the most games since Lyle, stepped down to become the school's dean of students, Moscato was hired during the summer as the seventh coach.

"I was surprised by the amount of talent that was there," said Moscato, whose background was primarily as a recreation coach in the Baltimore County communities of Middle River, Catonsville and Overlea. "Taking over as late as we did [in August], there wasn't time to recruit other athletes around school and encourage them to come out for football."

Nemeth and Terhes made progress and left a solid returning nucleus.

Among the returnees were the Creveling brothers, Alan and Sam, Brian Smith, Nick D'Ambrosio, Ted Calabrese, and the O'Conner brothers, Tom and Joe.

The 31-year old Moscato brought in as assistants "the guys I learned from as a kid" -- his father, John Sr., Jerry Wisner and Vic Mosca.

The new head coach has been up front with his players telling them that he wasn't going to do a lot of yelling or be a baby-sitter. "They know what they have to do and are expected to do it," said Moscato.

Spalding's new staff opened with a disappointing 24-0 loss at Eastern Tech in Baltimore County but the Cavs have won the last three.

"We were a little reluctant as new coaches to do some things differently but made some changes after the first game," said Moscato.

Running the ball out of an off-set I-formation behind an offensive line that averages 265 pounds a man, Moscato started shifting his backs -- senior Alan Creveling, junior Sam Creveling and Smith. Sam would get the ball more.

The Cavs set a school record for points in smoking Chesapeake-BC, 58-0, as the Creveling brothers scored two touchdowns each.

The Patuxent (14-13) thriller followed with Sam Creveling (5-10, 170) rushing for 146 yards and Smith (5-10, 175) and Alan Creveling (6-0, 195) scoring the touchdowns. Alan scored from the 12 with 54 seconds remaining and then smashed his way into the end zone for the decisive two-points.

When Patuxent stunned the Cavalier faithful on a 55-yard touchdown pass with just 25 seconds left, it looked like a Spalding finish of the past.

O'Conner, a 6-foot tall, 185-pound senior linebacker, showed this is truly a new beginning by sacking the Patuxent quarterback to prevent the potential game-winning conversion.

Last week, the Cavaliers put it all together in downing Boys' Latin. The Smith and Crevelings' rushing combo combined for 305 yards rushing, and Calabrese completed 7 of 12 passes for 136 yards, a total offense of 441 yards.

Each week, the Spalding defense has gotten better, with Alan Creveling, D'Ambrosio and O'Conner doing the job at linebacker, and Sam Creveling and O'Conner's "little brother," Joe O'Conner, among several reliables up front. Joe O'Conner is a 15-year old sophomore who is 6-4 and 285 pounds with excellent mobility.

The latter is part of what appears to be a bright future with 32 on the varsity and 30 prospects on an outstanding frosh-soph team.

Cardinal Gibbons (1-3, 1-0) visits Spalding for tonight's homecoming before next week's MIAA B Conference showdown with Severn.

As the perennial county private school doormat, the Cavaliers are 1-11 lifetime against Severn. The Admirals have outscored the Cavaliers 382-92 in the 12 games. Spalding's only win, by 14-13, was in 1987.

"We expect to win [over Severn] because we are significantly bigger than they are, and they're a one-man team with [Dennard] Melton," Moscato predicted.

Yes, it's a new Spalding.

Pub Date: 10/03/97

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