High school football fan brings up a few points about lighted gridirons

PLAYING AROUND

November 18, 2001|By LOWELL E. SUNDERLAND

MORSELS to munch before the really good stuff arrives Thursday:

High school stadiums: Reader Rick Harvey of Elkridge raised a couple of more points in responding to last Sunday's column wondering why Howard County's school system can't - won't for out-of-touch philosophical reasons, actually - light its high school stadiums.

"As the son of a high school football coach who coached for 30 years in Texas, Oklahoma, and Florida," Harvey wrote, "I grew up and remain a huge high school football fan. When I moved to Howard County eight years ago, I was appalled that the only Friday-night games you could find were at Howard High about five times a year. I find myself going to games in Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties just to get that Friday-night atmosphere. ...

"Friday-night football games would allow county players to get more exposure from college coaches who cannot attend Saturday games because of their own games. Additionally, county players would have Saturdays to visit college campuses and get a first-hand look at the game-day atmosphere at places like College Park.

"Lastly, there is nothing like a Friday-night football game to bring a community together. I remember growing up in Texas and seeing practically the entire town at the game on Friday night - even the 1-9 teams."

Football: Trailing 12-6, the Brick (N.J.) Mustangs tried two passing plays from the 7-yard line in the closing seconds last Sunday but couldn't score, and thus, the Columbia Community Church Warriors Junior Pee Wees (ages 9-11) advanced to the third round of the Pop Warner regional football playoffs this Saturday in Landsale, Pa. Uriyah Johnson broke two more long runs for touchdowns, one on the game's first drive, the other in the third quarter after being set up by a 25-yard dash by teammate Devrin Beasley.

Special Olympics: Howard County entrants did nicely in the Maryland Special Olympics Fall Sports Festival, which drew about 1,200 participants from 17 counties to Mount St. Mary's College.

The county's eight powerlifters, coached by Joel Penenburgh, earned seven gold medals and one silver. In five-a-side soccer, the county team won the bronze medal, and coach Nancy Hernick's charges took two golds, two silvers and two bronzes in individual skill events. Coach Donna Gilbert's players won the gold in volleyball.

County golfers a week earlier took two golds and two silvers in skills events at the state golf championships and then, as a team paired with nondisabled partners, took two golds, three silvers and two bronzes in alternate-shot play. Barbara Shearer and Mort Lenane were coaches.

Soccer: Coach Mike Rosanova's under-17 Columbia Sting didn't win their season-ending tournament in Gettysburg, Pa., last weekend. But his girls were voted an honor that meant more to him - and he hopes to them. The award, given by organizers of the South Penn Fall Classic, was for sportsmanship.

The Sting, a Soccer Association of Columbia/Howard County Classic-level team, went to Gettysburg short-handed, opening Saturday with 11 of 15 players because of high school playoffs and other absences.

A bad tumble in the first half of the first of two Saturday games sent defender Ali Piotrowski to a hospital for what proved to be damaged muscles in her right shoulder, reducing the Sting to 10 players. Nevertheless, they tied that game, 1-1.

In their second game a couple of hours later, still with only 10 players, Kaitlin Thomas, another defender, fell with a calf injury and, now down to nine players, the team lost, 3-2.

"I was afraid we were going to have to forfeit our Sunday game," said Rosanova, who at 45 still plays (three knee operations and one broken shoulder are in his medical records, he says) in addition to having coached for seven years.

But Sunday morning arrived, as did Piotrowski and Thomas and, unexpectedly, Centennial High starter Clare Cardoni, a Sting player whom Rosanova had let off for the weekend to avoid injury while preparing for the state high school tournament.

Piotrowski and Thomas insisted on playing despite their pain, the coach said - and both competed at times in tears, with Thomas forced out after being kicked again where she had been injured earlier. With a couple of absences as well, the Sting, reduced again to nine players, managed a 2-2 tie.

Then came the sportsmanship trophy - for the team. So last week Rosanova bought trophies for each of his players.

"At their age, you don't teach skills," said Rosanova. "You try to teach other things, and what they accomplished, to me, gets to the essence of the sport: You play for your teammates, not just to win. The team efforts ... were heroic."

Attention, coaches, leaders, parents and players in winter sports: We're looking for interesting people and things to write about. All suggestions welcome. Call the writer at 410-332-6525, or address e-mail to lowell.sunderland@baltsun.com.

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