Former Towson JV players are big men on campus now Sakevich, Bell, Wronski make impact for Tigers

September 17, 1998|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

In college football these days, the junior varsity tends to be used -- when it exists -- for players who will never play on the main squad.

Towson University provides an exception. Three players from the JV have played big roles in the Tigers' 2-0 season start. Aaron Sakevich, Tyrone Bell and Brian Wronski all earned starting positions during the preseason after spending their freshman years playing a four-game season.

Chief among them is Sakevich, who earned Defensive Player of the Week honors in the Patriot League after making 11 tackles in a 42-20 win over Monmouth. In the season opener, a 15-10 defeat of Morgan State, he made 13 tackles, displaying the athleticism that enabled him to play linebacker, running back, tight end and on special teams last season.

"When we recruited Aaron, we knew we had an outstanding athlete," Towson coach Gordy Combs said. "We just didn't know where to play him. Our thought was that we needed to get better at linebacker to stop the run."

All three players had the physical attributes necessary to play as freshmen. But there were more experienced players in front of them and the JV games were the only way of getting extensive playing time.

"They've been responsive to it," Combs said of those he delegates to JV.

Mitchell seeks results

After the administration at Morgan State gave him everything he asked for, football coach Stump Mitchell thought he should give them results in return.

Instead, the Bears have found themselves at 0-2 and Mitchell has found himself wondering if he should resign. The manner in which the team lost distressed Mitchell more than the results.

Penalties totaling 137 yards in one game, three turnovers in the next and failures to stop kickoff returns of 88 and 91 yards had Mitchell questioning whether the players were serious about football.

"I wanted them to know that we had the players and people were making the commitment to win, but unless there's that sense of urgency, it's not going to happen," said Mitchell.

In hopes of securing a winning season for the first time since 1979, the school had allowed Mitchell more scholarships, along with new uniforms and equipment. It also agreed to renovate Hughes Stadium, which now has grass on its field, instead of dirt.

Mitchell believed the school's commitment should be reflected in the effort on the field, and in meetings with players earlier this week, he told them that that hasn't always been the case.

"Players have to stop having their hand out and start giving back in terms of mental preparation," Mitchell said. "We have fans who have waited patiently for 18 or 19 years for us to win."

UMBC volleyball on rise

After disappointments the last two years, the UMBC women's volleyball team could make the NCAA tournament in 1998 representing the Northeast Conference.

The past two seasons, UMBC fell short of conference championships, losing to Coastal Carolina and Liberty in the Big South championship games.

But UMBC is picked to win the NEC in its first year in that conference, which would mean an automatic bid for the tournament. With outside hitters Lisa Cline and Megan McNamara and setter Lanae Baker returning for their senior seasons, the Retrievers are 5-3. Most recently, the team routed Towson in 45 minutes Tuesday night.

The Tigers (5-5) are one of two teams in the area, along with Morgan State, that find 1998 to be a transitional year. Ten of 13 Towson players are freshmen or sophomores, but after surviving a four-game losing streak, the team won a tournament at Virginia Commonwealth last weekend.

Morgan State made the NCAA tournament last year, but the Bears (2-6) are struggling against more talented opponents, a struggle likely to continue this weekend when they play top-ranked Penn State.

Pub Date: 9/17/98

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