Postseason results prove schedule flak was invalid

Sidelines

November 21, 1999|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

For those who were critical of the county athletic directors' restructured football schedule which found nine teams playing all 10 of their regular-season games against Anne Arundel foes, there's something to be said about the final result.

Anne Arundel County sent three teams to the state playoffs -- Severna Park and Old Mill in Class 4A and Annapolis in 3A -- for the first time since 1994 and nobody was embarrassed.

It's only the third time during the 90s that the county placed three in the postseason, and while this year's trio was 1-3, county teams had chances to win late in three of the games.

"I think we showed that we play pretty good football in Anne Arundel County and we're getting better," said Severna Park coach J. P. Hines, whose Falcons (10-2) were 1-1 against Montgomery County opposition in the playoffs.

Those who argued that not playing three or more non-county teams in regular season would keep county teams from being competitive in the postseason proved to be wrong.

The new schedule resulted in the county closing the competitive gap, as the numbers attest.

In 1994, North County won the 4A state title while Arundel and Severna Park were eliminated in the 4A quarterfinals, Arundel 39-15 by North County, and Severna Park by 32-14 to Largo of Prince George's County. Then from '95 until this season, county teams were embarrassed by outside competition.

Anne Arundel County was 1-7 in those games from 1995 through 1998 and outscored 295-117. Foes from Montgomery and Prince George's counties and Baltimore City averaged 36.9 points while yielding 14.6 points in those contests.

Broadneck notched the only playoff victory in that span, a 22-21 thriller over Westlake of Charles County in Class 3A last fall before losing to Prince George's County's Friendly, 49-13, in the semifinals.

This year against Montgomery County opponents, Annapolis dropped a 28-27 decision in overtime to Damascus; Old Mill, playing without its quarterback and leading receiver (both injured), lost 30-3 at Gaithersburg; and Severna Park edged Watkins Mill, 15-14.

Friday night in the 4A semifinals, the Falcons (10-2) put up a valiant effort before bowing, 13-0, at Gaithersburg. The Trojans (11-1) took a 7-0 lead on their first possession and didn't get any breathing room until Norman Smith returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown with 18 seconds left in the game.

Anne Arundel County's last trip to Gaithersburg was by Meade in 1995 and the Mustangs were routed, 41-0.

This year's three playoff teams were outscored 85-45,

That's a differential of 10.0 points per game, quite a contrast to the 22.3 in the four previous seasons.

County champion Annapolis, the only team to beat Severna Park in the regular season (21-17), played all 10 regular season games against county teams, while Old Mill played nine and Severna Park eight.

As for the theory "you get better by playing better competition," county teams found it at home -- Anne Arundel County had a pretty good league this season.

Sideliners

It was reported in yesterday's editions that Severna Park's Paul Gillette had made his school-record 11th interception. It was actually a school-record ninth interception. Gillette, who has a 3.5 grade-point average with a 1,160 SAT score, is headed to Maryland on a lacrosse scholarship. Linebackers David Wagner and Todd Soroka of Severna Park staked their claim as two of the best in the metro area after holding the Gaithersburg offense that had been averaging over 30 points a game to one touchdown Friday. Arundel athletic director/baseball coach Bernie Walter, who is 57, had quadruple bypass surgery Monday and is recovering nicely at home. Tony Martin, who resigned as boys basketball coach at Spalding after being named All-Metro Coach of the Year last season, resigned this week as an assistant coach at Towson University because of "family constraints." Good news for Old Mill fans: Jason Galloway, who tore up a knee playing football this season, will be ready for the upcoming basketball season. Marques Johnson and Thomas Hawkins of Annapolis have been nominated for the McDonald's All-America team. The 25th Annapolis Cap City Basketball Classic, has been officially named after the school's retired athletic director, Fred Stauffer. Host Annapolis will be joined by Howard County's Oakland Mills and Wilde Lake, and Loyola for the Dec. 29-30 holiday tournament in which a 25-second shot clock will be used. Key school athletes petitioned the administration to change the school's nickname, from Obezags to anything else, but it was turned down by the alumni. Obezag, by the way, is gazebo spelled backward. The latter is a landmark on the school grounds in Hillsmere.

Have a note or idea for Sidelines? Call Pat O'Malley's 24-hour Sportsline at 410-647-2499.

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