Rams prepare for storied Sentinels Randallstown coach lauds Fort Hill program, which is in 7th straight playoffs


November 19, 1998|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

In facing Fort Hill's storied football tradition tomorrow night at Catonsville Community College, Randallstown coach Bruce Strunk says he and his No. 3-ranked Rams are facing "a program."

"They're a good program, and being a good team and a good program are two different things," said Strunk, whose second-seeded Rams (11-0) meet the sixth-seed Sentinels (9-2) in a Class 2A state semifinal.

"Good teams are made up of good players. Good programs go a little bit deeper," the coach continued. "Fort Hill has 10 or 11 coaches, so that each kid is coached to a T. Like if this guy moves that foot, you move this one.

"Plus they win playoff games, and that helps down the line in nTC selling it to the younger kids. That's how the Fort Hills, the Cambridges, and the Seneca Valleys become battle-tested."

Strunk watched last weekend as Fort Hill, winner of its second state title by 22-6 over Dunbar last year, twice overcame deficits in a nail-biting, 14-13 quarterfinal win at Poly.

A loss would have been only the second first-round defeat in 16 playoff appearances for the Sentinels, who are making their seventh straight this fall.

"Watching the Poly game, you could tell they've been there before. They kept their composure through the whole thing," said Strunk, whose Rams edged Montgomery County's Einstein, in overtime last weekend. "They were up to the challenge and made the plays when they had to."

Down 13-7, Fort Hill opened the third period with a game-clinching 11-play, 66-yard drive that ended with T. J. Powell's 2-yard scoring run. But what impressed Strunk more was how 13th-year Sentinels' coach Mike Calhoun (121-30 career) went for the jugular after stopping Poly on fourth-and-1 at the Fort Hill 2.

Quarterback Nick Pannell's fake duped the Poly secondary for a pass to open Jared Fradiska at the Fort Hill 30. From there, Fradiska raced to the Engineers' 2, setting up a score that tied the game at 7-all.

"To call that play-action pass out of the end zone -- that takes guts," Strunk said. "Fort Hill's very well coached, throws a lot of different formations at you, runs some unbalanced lines."

Ranked No. 19 in the state, Fort Hill is led offensively by Powell (947 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Jordan Hamilton (632, eight). Powell scored twice vs. Poly

Fradiska has a single-season state record 14 interceptions as part of a defense that includes linemen Ben Lapp (6-foot-2, 226 pounds), Norman Cromwell (6-3, 200), Shaun Lewis (6-2, 253) and Nathan Weaver (6-2, 205). Those linemen contributed to six sacks of Poly quarterback Timmy Frazier.

Randallstown, ranked No. 13 in the state, is making its Baltimore County-leading 12th playoff appearance -- its second straight under Strunk -- and has won two of the county's four state titles.

The Rams are led defensively by Dieter Munz (six interceptions), Jamal Brown (four), and, with six sacks each, Michael Goode and Mykal Bouie.

NCAA Division I prospect B. J. Thomas (6-5, 315) anchors the offensive line in front of running back-defensive back Marshall Contee (1,377 yards, 15 touchdowns) and quarterback Archie Trader (10 touchdowns, three passing, seven rushing).

"We saw them against Hereford, Einstein and Lansdowne, and we're extremely impressed with their quickness and their overall speed," Calhoun said. "We haven't faced a back with Contee's )) speed, and their quarterback, Trader, does a great job of carrying out fakes."

Pub Date: 11/19/98

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