Still at a want for wins Football: North Carroll's Adam Crowl has made great gains as a 1,000-yard rusher, but has found the individual success less than fulfilling in a 2-6 season.

October 26, 1997|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

It wasn't supposed to happen this way.

The expectations for a winning football season at North Carroll have not materialized, but Friday night's 28-19 victory over Westminster eased some of that pain. Previously, there had been an opening-game overtime win over Francis Scott Key and six straight losses.

After the Key win, there was a loss to Hereford, which scored the game-winning touchdown inside of the final three minutes (and is still undefeated), and a loss to Southern-Harwood of Anne Arundel County, which got the game-winning touchdown with 53 seconds left.

"We have been in most of the games, but it puts a damper on your confidence when you don't win," senior Adam Crowl said before a recent practice. "However, you have to work through that. It's part of being a team."

Crowl is a two-way starter as a fullback and linebacker, but better known for his offense. He gained 1,016 yards and scored 10 touchdowns as a junior, and is currently the county leader in rushing, having gone past the 1,000-yard mark again, and touchdowns, 11.

"I don't have many moves, and I'm not the fastest runner, but when the blocks are there [and with a 1,000-yard rusher, they obviously have been], I know what to do," Crowl added. "I can make the proper cut, and am doing a better job of protecting the ball. Last year, I fumbled five times, and this year, once. And, we can't afford turnovers."

As it developed at Westminster, on a raw, rainy night, there were fumbles that resulted in turnovers, but they dimmed in comparison to the triumph, the third straight for North Carroll in a series Westminster leads, 6-5.

Last year, when the 6-4 Panthers had the only winning record in the county, they were a senior-dominated squad. Among the graduates were a two-year starter at quarterback, and four linebackers, including all the starters.

Now, two-thirds of the 30-man squad are underclassmen, including a lone sophomore, Steve Suter, who starts in the offensive and defensive backfields.

Early in the season, Crowl and senior running back Rick Brown provided a 1-2 offensive punch, but Brown injured an ankle in the first half of the Frederick game a month ago. He missed the rest of that one, and the next two, and is still not 100 percent.

"He got hurt last year, too, and then I was shifted to halfback," Crowl said. "This time, I stayed at fullback, and Steve [Suter] moved over and took his [Brown's] place. And he has really helped.

"Last year, there were two main running backs, but this year Steve gave us a third, and we had about equal carries. Then Ricky went down and it has been more just Steve and me."

Of Crowl, coach Bill Rumbaugh says, "On offense, he's our go-to guy. We want the ball in his hands. Most teams are set up to stop him, but we do have other weapons. It's just that there was a letdown when Rick went down."

Crowl has had success going back to his sophomore season when there were 13 players on a JV team that went 5-3. "That's the most fun I've had," he recalled, laughing at the thought of it.

Then he turned serious on the subject of confidence in the face of adversity, saying, "It's hard to keep building off one win. For whatever success I've had, I'd give it all back for the team to win."

Friday's victory should boost the team's confidence, which might make it easier for Rumbaugh to get the players' attention, since next up is Thomas Johnson (7-1), which has a Central Maryland Conference winning streak of 31 games.

Pub Date: 10/26/97

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