Young, a survivor, enjoys light again Boys basketball: Meade's veteran coach has an unlikely crew on a 4-game win streak and in first place in Anne Arundel's North Division.

January 16, 1998|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden has helped Butch Young through 21 years of coaching boys basketball at transient Meade High school.

Taking a graduate class on the theory of coaching at West Virginia University about 35 years ago, Young retained a few valuable tips from Bowden, the instructor.

Year in and year out, especially during the 1990s, Young has been faced with military and athletic transfers and academic ineligibilities. Many students live on the fringes of the Meade, Old Mill and Arundel school districts, and free movement is commonplace.

Those are enemies of continuity and usually reasons to pack it in. But after 31 years (the first 10 at Severna Park) as a head coach in Anne Arundel County, those factors have not defeated Young.

Young, who retired from teaching last year, is a survivor and still passionate about coaching. His current team has come out of nowhere to take over sole possession of first place in the North Division (6-4, 4-0).

Meade started the season at 1-3 while waiting to regain a couple players who had been on academic probation and has won five of its last six games. The Mustangs take a four-game winning streak into tonight's home game vs. Glen Burnie (4-6, 3-1).

The Mustangs very easily could be 10-0. Losses have come to defending Class 4A East region champion Calvert by 60-58; to No. 14-ranked Southern-Harwood, 65-64; to St. John's of Washington, D.C., then ranked No. 17 in the Washington area by The Washington Post, by 52-46 and to The Post's then No. 10-ranked Eleanor Roosevelt, 76-70.

Roosevelt knocked off Meade in the Mustangs' holiday tournament, but lost to The Sun's No. 10 Edgewood, 68-65, in the final.

Young and Meade's tenacity come from a few things he learned from Bowden.

"Bobby stressed developing your own philosophy. Stay with it and keep things simple. Realize that you are going to get your butt kicked, no matter who you are, but learn to keep it close," said Young, one of three county boys coaches with 400 wins (408-280).

"You might lose some close ones, and if you get into that situation or you're trying to rebuild, don't get away from what you believe in. All of a sudden, you start winning the close ones."

Young humbly disagrees, but he has one of the county's toughest coaching jobs.

Only six or seven boys at Meade played JV basketball in the last three years. The turnover of players has been huge, some leaving during the season or just before. It used to be that Young would get military kids who were around for three or four years.

This season, the Mustangs are getting consistent play from seven players, five of whom were not there or only part-time a year ago.

Gone are two outstanding seniors in guard David Cooper, who Young says is "a super player in Hawaii," and 6-foot-5 forward Eric Cooks, who moved to Alabama after starting two years at Meade.

Senior guard John Banks started at Meade, moved to Florida and is back. Jeff Charles, a 6-3 junior defensive standout, is a welcome transfer from Michigan.

Leading scorer Maurice Davis, a 6-0 senior averaging 17 points per game, has had grade problems through high school. He wants to play so badly that he takes a regular load of classes and attends night school a couple times a week. Davis is the son of Eric Wade, who was All-County at Meade in 1981-82.

Steve Goforth, who played JV as a sophomore, was not strong enough (now 6-foot, 140 pounds) to play varsity as a junior.

"Steve worked his tail off last summer to become a better player and is leading us in assists and steals," said Young.

Junior Terrell Ross and senior David Stangee, the team's leading rebounder, are rare JV grads. The 6-5 Stangee is averaging 9.0 rebounds and 14.4 points a game after academic probation.

Steve Spurlin, a 6-3 senior, is the team's second-leading scorer (13.4) and a steadying influence.

"Steve has been our best all-around player and is a really good kid," said Young.

Spurlin, who carries a 3.7 grade-point average and is a member of the National Honor Society, is a team leader.

"I was brought up to varsity as a freshman, because we lost a few guys to academics near the end of the season, but I stayed on JV the next two years," said Spurlin, who is being recruited by Division III schools Washington College and Lebanon Valley and Anne Arundel Community College.

"We only lost one player to grades last year, had a couple with problems at the start of this season, but they've straightened out.

"I'm staying on their backs, and so is Coach Young, because if we can keep this team together, we can have a great season."

Meade's last great season was 1993 (21-5), when it advanced to the Class 4A state semifinals. Young has not had a winning season since and had a 12-11 season in a 1995-96 that broke down with eight forfeits to become a 4-19 year because of an ineligible player.

Young perseveres because after all this time he still loves going to the gym and teaching basketball.

Pub Date: 1/16/98

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