Northwestern rallies on, off field Wildcats prevail in OT after coaching change

October 18, 1997|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

With the score tied at 26 and his players huddled around him just before the start of the overtime session against Edmondson, Northwestern coach Wayne Jackson said to his Wildcats: "We're together, right?"

"Yeah!" they screamed back.

Saeed Abdul-Samad then caught an 8-yard touchdown pass -- his second of the day from Donald Brady, whose subsequent conversion pass to Jamada Abdul-Samad padded Northwestern's fifth straight win yesterday, 34-26.

The Wildcats overcame three different six-point deficits, as well as the Redskins' homecoming crowd, in improving to 5-2 overall (5-0 in the City's West Division) and keeping alive their Class 4A state playoff hopes.

But the decision was even more impressive in view of what the players had to endure the previous four days.

Removed by principal Dr. James Scofield on Aug. 15 -- the first day of practice -- Jackson won a grievance last week that ruled Scofield "did not properly remove" Jackson, said Marcie Crump, a city public schools official.

The action, following the Baltimore City Public Schools' rule book, "gave [Jackson] the option of re-assuming his position immediately or in August of 1998," said Bob Wade, director of city school athletics. "It was [Jackson's] decision to assume the position immediately."

On Monday, Jackson replaced Leroy McKenzie, who had taken the Wildcats to a 4-2 record. McKenzie's staff stepped down, forcing Jackson to operate with only the assistance of head JV coach Dave Gorman, who was hired on Wednesday.

Scofield has not returned phone calls to the school this week, and an assistant principal at yesterday's game declined to comment.

Jackson, who is still looking for a varsity assistant, also would not discuss the case in detail.

"I think the kids were a little tight early on, but they stuck together. I put them to the challenge, and I told them that no matter the odds, just keep fighting. They stepped up every time, and they came through in the end," said Jackson, 47, who is 10-28 over five seasons.

"They did what I've been teaching them for four years," Jackson said, "and [McKenzie's] system was basically the same thing I'd been doing, anyway. If we continue doing these things, we'll be fine."

Sophomore running back Leroy Satchell, who ranks eighth among area rushers and scorers, had 226 yards, scored his ninth touchdown of the season and had a two-point conversion run. Taron Reed rushed for a touchdown.

For Edmondson (1-5), quarterback David Bass rushed for one score and completed touchdown passes of 24 and 58 yards to Justice McLeod and Raytron Leak had a 40-yard scoring run.

Brady said the Wildcats "never thought about losing."

"On Monday, not everyone was on the same page. We weren't focused to overcome the coaching changes or try to understand the situations of both coaches," said Brady, a Walbrook transfer who ran in for a touchdown yesterday.

Jackson, he said, "was great, even when McKenzie was the coach. He came to all of our practices, and he's been to all of our

TC games. And when it came time to step in, he just kept us rolling."

City schools system spokesman Vanessa Pyatt said Jackson's complaint was heard on Oct. 13 by Northwest supervisor of city schools Cynthia Janssen, members of the Baltimore Teachers Union and administrators.

"There's a procedure to removing an employee, and that is why the grievance was filed," Pyatt said. "It involves an organized process of evaluation and documentation" that was not followed, she said. "That's why [Jackson] was re-instated."

McKenzie, 51, a substitute physical education teacher and former semi-pro player with the Baltimore Rams, said he was unaware of the circumstances surrounding Jackson's removal but "began hearing rumors about a grievance" and "was prepared" for his return.

"That's due process. There's no animosity between myself and Mr. Jackson," said McKenzie, who spent eight years as an assistant and two as head coach at Lake Clifton from 1974 to 1984 and also was an assistant to Roger Wrenn for one year at Patterson.

"Some of the kids told me that they don't want to play for [Jackson]," said McKenzie, who "encouraged them to finish what they started."

Under school system rules, Wade said McKenzie's assistants, Phil Blackwell and Randy Fulmore, "will be mailed letters of reprimand for job abandonment" and will not be allowed to coach again in the city school system.

But Blackwell said: "We stepped down out of fairness to $H [Jackson] to have his own program. Mr. Jackson and the school system aren't considering the kids."

Pub Date: 10/18/97

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