Hammond engineers new-look Poly football Successor to Waibel plans wide-open offense

August 25, 1998|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

There's a new Poly football coach, and his name is John Hammond.

And Hammond's Engineers have a different look.

Out is the offense of former coach Augie Waibel, known for 35 seasons of grinding opponents into submission with his four basic running plays -- guts, trap, blast and counter. In is Hammond's multiple-set format, which "will be more wide-open,

expansive and tries to finesse you and stretch you out," the coach said.

An assistant to Waibel for three years before taking over this season, Hammond has even gone to orange helmets, replacing the traditional white ones that had a blue stripe down the middle.

"Under Augie's system, we rarely ever played kids both ways, and we're even doing that this year, which is another change. So with Augie, it was the end of an era," said Bucky Kimmet, a 29-year assistant to Waibel, who joins Gerald Boyd, Wallace Sifford and Damon Yaffe on Hammond's coaching staff.

"John's changing things because he feels it's good for the program," Kimmet said. "John's got a lot of expertise, knows football. He's a good man."

Hammond's 28 coaching seasons include three as head coach at Southwestern and Mervo and jobs as an assistant at Patterson, Fallston and Walbrook.

But Waibel retired as an institution in smash-mouth football, winning 11 Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association or Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference crowns and three titles over 35 years.

Now an assistant at Towson University, Waibel had a 280-75 career record, with only four non-winning seasons -- twice going 4-6 and twice 5-5.

"It's easy to see why our philosophies differ: Augie was a center, so his emphasis was with the line. As a former quarterback, I place more responsibilities on that position as the trigger," said Hammond, who played at Forest Park alongside Mark Schlenoff, Poly's athletic director.

"Where Augie's going to keep it simple, I'm more of a risk-taker and more pass/option-oriented."

Hammond spent the previous three seasons "on the headset as my man in the booth," Waibel said, "getting the word down to me and interpreting the other team. He was important to our success, and he'll continue that success."

But Hammond said he realizes he'll be under the microscope. His approach will be foreign -- and perhaps unpalatable -- to some Poly traditionalists.

"Whatever level you're coaching on, you'll have your critics, but you've got to do your job and just take full responsibility for the results," said Hammond, whose Engineers began practicing Aug. 17 -- the first day allowed for state public schools.

"We'll make decisions based on the personnel we have, the teams we play," Hammond said. "The crowd can't factor into it. There's no room for a head coach with rabbit ears on the sideline."

Third-year starting quarterback Timmy Frazier, running back Lonnie Williams and wide receiver Eddie Henry are among several seniors on this year's squad who were freshmen during Hammond's first season at Poly, when they helped his junior-varsity squad to an 8-2 record.

One of 11 starters still around from last year's 7-3 City East Division co-champion team, Frazier this year hopes to eclipse his two-year totals of 1,000 passing yards and 11 touchdowns.

"I have a lot of confidence in Coach Hammond, but the first week of practice has been grueling as far as trying to break out of two years of old habits," said Frazier, 6 feet 1, 195 pounds.

"Last year's running backs carried the ball 25 to 30 times a game, but now we'll pass about that much a game. In this type of offense, I have to be less a role player and more of a leader. My job's more complex, and the offense is basically in my hands."

Pub Date: 8/25/98

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