Teams at a glance

September 02, 1999|By Rick Belz

Atholton Raiders

1998 record: 1-9 overall, 0-9 league

Coach: Kevin Kelly (career 19-21)

Classification: 2A

Top players: Neal Halloran, Sr.,QB; Craig Smith, Sr., TE/DE; Jarrett Emery, Sr., OG/LB; Jeremy Butler, Sr., OT/DT; Brian Mullinix, Sr., FB/LB; Joe Levine, Sr., OT; Shaun Johnson, Sr., QB; Brandon Merrell, Sr., WR/DB.

Outlook: Inexperience will bother the Raiders, who have just four senior returnees. They also have four first-year seniors among their 28 players. Depth is improved, because they had just 17 players last season, when they defeated only Northeast. Speed is improved with the likes of two sophomore RBs, 6-foot, 185-pound Terrance Johnson and Fairmont Heights transfer Ricardo Roach. The team has some decent size on the line, featuring juniors Robert Olson at 230 pounds and Greg Ignocencio at 230 pounds. Last season ranked as the toughest in school history -- shut out five times and outscored by county opponents, 332-34. And the Raiders carry a nine-game losing streak into this season. But look for some improvement.

Centennial Eagles

1998 record: 5-5 overall, 4-5 league

Coach: Ed Holshue (career 91-95)

Classification: 2A

Top players: Adam Booher, Jr., OT-DT; Mike Bruzga, Sr., E, DE; Wyatt Cooper Jr., OG, DL; Alan Dupski Sr., C, NG; Omid Janloo, Sr., OG, DL; Kevin Laycock, Jr., E, DE, K; Tim Mitroka, Sr., FB, DE; Brian O'Connor, Jr., QB, DB.

Outlook: The Eagles will carry only 10 seniors among their 28 players. They are well-conditioned, but strength rates as only average, though the Eagles will be quicker. And they have some size on the line, but are smaller than average at the skill positions. Cooper is expected to be the team's top lineman. Mitroka is rated "top-notch" by his coach. The Eagles upset Howard, 24-15, last season and nearly upset eventual state champion Oakland Mills before losing, 12-7. The Eagles hope to knock off another winning team this year. The Eagles will play Fallston instead of J. M. Bennett as their only non-league game.

Glenelg Gladiators

1998 record: 3-7 overall, 3-6 league

Coach: John Davis (career, 9-21)

Classification: 1A

Top players: Zack McQuigg, Sr., QB; J. T. Smart, Jr., WR; Paul Brooks, Sr., WR; Raynell Mohammed, Sr., RB, LB; Vince Pirro, Sr., RB; Andrew Garland, Jr., LB; Rob LaHayne, Soph., OT, DT; Chip Bowen, Jr., WR.

Outlook: The Gladiators are speedier, thanks to players such as Pirro and Mohammedthan, and are much stronger thanks to dedicated weightlifting and an influx of youth. And with 33 players, their depth is good for a Class 1A school. The JV went 10-0 last season, and a lot of those players are expected to become varsity impact players. Major attention will focus on McQuigg, a 6-3, 205-pound first-team All-County pick who needs 2,050 yards to break the state career passing record and 677 yards for the county record. The Gladiators, with talented receivers to assist him, will line up three or four wide frequently. WR Paul Brooks, 6-0, 205 pounds, was first-team All-County punter with a 39.8 average on 44 punts, and he also caught 13 passes for 209 yards and three TDs. The beefed-up line, which averaged 180 pounds last season, averages 230 now. And with players such as LaHayne at 6-3, 235 pounds, expect a more two-dimensional offense. The Gladiators, a dark-horse team this season, upset Long Reach, 14-10, to go with wins over Hammond and Atholton last season, and will be looking to pick off another county power or two this season.

Hammond Bears

1998 record: 1-9 overall, 1-8 league

Coach: Joe Russo (career, 118-93)

Classification: 2A

Top players: Jason Harriman, Sr., WR/CB; Paul Nowecak, Sr., OT; Chris Breedlove, Sr., TE/S; Kevin Chrapaty, Sr., LB; Joe Neary, Sr., OT; John Sacks, Sr., LB; Jason Maxey, Jr., QB; Jeff Frye, Jr., RB; Brian Brewer, Jr., OG; Kevin Sschwartz, Jr., FB/LB; Jamal Stewart, Jr., RB/LB.

Outlook: The Bears suffered only their second losing season since 1987 last fall and posted their worst record since the school's inaugural season in 1977, when they went 1-9. Russo, the school's first-and-only head coach, has a new offensive coordinator in Bill Smith, and the Bears will run a wishbone offense in hopes of generating more points and more wins. The team lacks experience, however. Maxey quarterbacked the final four games last season. Frye has switched from defense to offense. Stewart, injured, played just one game. The Bears are guaranteed an exciting opening day and $3,000 for their football program, when they travel tomorrow to Cumberland to play two-time state champion Fort Hill, a team that draws 10,000 fans to its games. "It should be fun," Russo said. "We'll be better than last year."

Howard Lions

1998 record: 6-4 overall, 5-4 league

Coach: Vince Parnell (career, 29-41)

Classification: 2A

Top players: Gerald Smith, Sr., RB, DB; Joey Tortella, Sr., TE, LB; Jose Monzon, Sr., RB; Mike McAleese, Sr., OT; Kyle Fleischmann, Sr., OT; Barry Dagold, Sr., NG; Travis Irving, Jr., FB, DE; Matt Snyder, Soph., E, S.

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