In hot pursuit of perfection Football: Coach Jeff Herrick and Broadneck's Bruins have battled through adversity to put themselves in line to complete an unbeaten regular season. Only rival North County stands in the way.

November 03, 1998|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

More than a lofty place in Anne Arundel County football history will be at stake when No. 6-ranked Broadneck (9-0) visits North County (3-6) Friday.

Broadneck can become Anne Arundel County's 11th football team to go undefeated in the regular season, but it looks like the Bruins have to win to qualify for their second straight 3A East playoff berth.

Broadneck had lost six in a row in their series with the Knights before last year's 35-14 victory. There's no chance of a Broadneck letdown for a couple reasons.

"If we lose, it's possible depending on what happens around the state that a 9-1 record might not get us in," said Broadneck's tenth year coach Jeff Herrick.

"Wilde Lake [8-1, defending 3A state champ] is right behind us. It could come down to bonus points and some of the teams we beat have not been winning. Going undefeated would mean a lot because we have come a long ways since my first year [1989] when we were 2-8."

Herrick guided the Bruins to a banner season in '97 with a school-record nine wins (9-2) and their first playoff berth. They lost to Friendly, 34-20 in the 3A quarterfinals.

Since 1960, 10 county teams have gone unblemished in the regular season. Arundel was the last in 1995, some 11 years after Annapolis had turned the trick for the third time under Big Al Laramore in 1984 and the fourth time overall for the Fighting Panthers.

Coach Bill Zucco's '95 Arundel team capped off its perfect regular season with a 36-22 victory over Meade, only to be stunned 14-7 the following week by the latter in the state quarterfinals.

Laramore's first unbeaten team came in 1966 (9-0-1) and the second in '78 was the Class AA (now 4A) state champion.

County public school football started in the 1960's and the state playoffs began in 1974 with semifinals and finals in four classifications.

Quarterfinals were added in 1988. County teams have won three state championships -- Arundel 1975 (9-2), Annapolis 1978 (12-0) and North County 1994 (11-2).

Broadneck started its football program in 1982 and went 0-10 under Bruce Villwock playing a combination varsity/JV schedule. In its first full varsity season in '83, the team went 6-4 under Grant Jones.

Jones led the Bruins to five straight winning seasons before going 4-6 in 1988 and turning the reins over to Herrick. Herrick was 5-15 his first two seasons before climbing to .500 (5-5) in 1991 and posting his first of three straight winning seasons in 1992.

Since a 2-8 season in '95, the Bruins have been on a 25-5 run going into Friday.

"I give my coaches and a lot of great kids the credit for what we have accomplished," says Herrick, a former standout running back/punter at Arundel High, Anne Arundel Community College and Towson State.

Herrick's staff includes the Bruins' first coach in Villwock, who handles the special teams, offensive coordinator Bob Beauchemin, defensive coordinator Jeff Tonini and JV coaches Ross Stimely, Joel Sowells and John Cavallaro.

Beauchemin's offense is averaging 37.2 points a game, while Tonini's defense is yielding only 8.5 per contest.

"We've got a very athletic team that is very good skill-wise and a group of experienced players who know how to play," said Herrick.

Four-year running back Martel Threadgill became the county's career rushing leader (3,671 career yards, 1,595 this season) last weekend in a 25-6 win over Southern.

An offensive line led by center Dan Burke (6-foot, 240 pounds) and tackle Dave Lazzari (6-4, 220), both seniors, enable Threadgill, versatile quarterback Lehrman Dotson and their mates to run free.

Dotson, an All-Metro wide receiver as a junior, moved to quarterback in the sixth game of the season after the starter was suspended along with four other players.

In four games, Dotson has thrown for more than 400 yards and four touchdowns while presenting a dangerous threat to score from anywhere on the field when he chooses to run.

"When Lehrman took over, he told me he was ready for the challenge," said Herrick. "He doesn't say much, but he goes out and does what he has to do.

"In the huddle, there is no doubt who's running the show."

Defensively, the Bruins are anchored by a corps of senior leaders in cornerbacks Dorian Watkins and Jermaine Holland, defensive end Jeff Logan and linebackers Sam Strother and Hector Colon.

Herrick is very proud of the way his seniors responded to the mid-season controversy that resulted in the one-game suspensions of two starters and the dismissal of three others for the rest of the season.

"The kids, especially our seniors, responded very well and helped keep everybody focused," said Herrick. "It made my job of keeping the team first and focused so much easier."

The Bruins are in the same position as Annapolis was a year ago. In a stunning 21-14 upset, Severna Park (4-6) spoiled the bid of rival Annapolis to go 10-0.

Herrick and North County coach Chuck Markiewicz are best friends and were recently inducted together into the Arundel High Athletic Hall of Fame.

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