Key focusing on mistakes Football: The 1-6 Eagles have been hurting themselves seriously all season, but starting tonight, they hope to turn their season around.

October 22, 1998|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

A 1-6 record after seven games was not exactly what Francis Scott Key players were thinking about before the season. Yet, going into the final three games of the season, starting tonight at Brunswick, Key can turn the season around.

Several losses were in games that could have been won, but the outcomes resulted from self-destruction, games in which the offense and the special teams took turns making mistakes.

Senior co-captains Paul Mullins and Jeff Eyler see all three games -- Catoctin and Williamsport will follow Brunswick -- as winable.

"We can do it if we come out with a winning attitude, believe we can do it, and get it done," Mullins said yesterday. "In several games, we came out and slacked off.

"There were others, though, like Middletown, where we stood up and smacked them. The score doesn't reflect it, but we played well defensively. Against Walkersville last week, their Brett DeMeza, a good running back, had negative yardage."

Then the fullback/linebacker pointed out: "One problem was that we'd be in our end, turn the ball over, and suddenly we'd have to swing around and think defense.

"It's hard to get yourself ready when you're thinking offense, and now it's defense and the other team is on your 10-yard line."

Off-field problems early in the season resulted in some personnel changes, and the players have had to dig down and work through it. One who has been on the spot has been sophomore quarterback Russell Tyler, who, in another time, would have been the JV quarterback.

"He's there because he's a leader," Eagles coach Mike Coons said. "He had respect on the JV team, and he has earned it with the varsity. Still, I'd say he has fallen on his sword for us, because he has had to do what was asked of him. The team needed him.

"Next year, he might not even be our quarterback, but right now he's sticking in there."

On the other hand, several seniors have battled back from the adversity and now see the possibility of salvaging something from the wreckage.

All are in their second varsity seasons, with lineman Chuck Linthicum and Mullins playing both offense and defense and linebacker Jeff Eyler and running back Jason Richardson seeing action on only one side of the ball.

"We used little guys on the defensive line last year, but this year, Coach has the bigger ones in there," said Linthicum, at 6-feet, 240 pounds an All-Monocacy Valley Athletic League honorable mention last year. "It makes it easier to clog the middle. We've done a good job of stuffing people."

The three defensive players were quick to say they preferred defense to offense.

Linthicum summed it up, saying: "There's more technique on offense; on defense you just run over people."

Said Richardson, the team's top runner and scorer: "I expect more of myself," he said. "I put [too much] pressure on myself."

Although the capabilities of Eyler and Mullins, for instance, are solid, having grown in the program, Linthicum has made longer strides.

"He may be my best player," Coons said, "because he has had the farthest to come and has done a good job."

Still, the Eagles could be in position to make a strong statement if they are able to heed what Coons has been preaching all season and what is seemingly engraved across every player's forehead: "Minimize our mistakes; maximize their mistakes."

Pub Date: 10/22/98

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