Class 2A title game: redemption vs. tradition

At Hereford, pressure builds as Bulls on cusp of winning 2nd state title

High Schools

November 30, 2001|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Hereford's John Dinkins said he was congratulated by "countless" classmates, teammates and faculty members each Monday morning after his game-winning kicks against Eastern Tech and City.

And that was just during the five-minute walk from his car to his locker. Dinkins, a sophomore place-kicker, called the attention more overwhelming than the pressure of winning the game.

"When I'm on the field, I'm focused on the job. The team does its job, and I have to complete the other end," Dinkins said. "When I get congratulated, I let people know it wasn't just me, but a team effort. That's what it means to be on the Hereford football team."

Since going 13-0 to win its first championship in 1997, the Hereford football team has become a focal point not only in its community but the standard by which Baltimore County teams measure themselves.

If the Bulls (12-0) win today's 4 p.m. Class 2A state final against fifth-ranked Joppatowne (12-0) at Maryland's Byrd Stadium, they will become the county's first team to finish as The Sun's No. 1-ranked team - an accomplishment seventh-year coach Steve Turnbaugh tries to downplay to his players.

"I tell them there are other teams who could be No. 1, but they lost tough games and things sort of fell into place for us. It's like the BCS [Bowl Championship Series] college poll: You can never tell who the real No. 1 is," said Turnbaugh, who, at 72-10, has surpassed 70 victories faster than any other coach in state high school football history.

"The seniors on this team were eighth-graders when we won it, and some of them had brothers on that team and want to be part of that tradition," Turnbaugh said. "We were the hunter back then, but now we're the hunted. Everyone's playing their best game against you."

Unlike the '97 team, built largely on home-grown players, this year's more talented version features two key transfers: Dinkins, from Huntington, W.Va., and linebacker-running back Adam Goloboski, a second-team All-City/County player last fall at St. Paul's. Goloboski finished behind at least one Hereford player who made the first team.

"I was jealous of Hereford. I thought I had a right to be where their players were," Goloboski said. "But now, being on the team, I realize that every player has earned his right to be called the part of the best team."

Ryan Shupert, a threat to run or pass, runs a Wing-T offense that averages 340 rushing yards. In 10 regular-season games, Hereford outscored its opponents 50-3.

Butt Hereford's top scorer with 14 touchdowns, missed last week's semifinal victory over City with a rib injury. He returns today and is among five running backs who has cleared 550 rushing yards.

"There's no set play. Ryan can change the call if he feels something's not going to work," said Josh Morris, one of Hereford's elite rushers. "The No. 1 priority is: don't fumble, punt the ball if we have to, and let the defense capitalize on mistakes."

Hereford has committed six turnovers while recovering 18 fumbles and intercepting 15 passes.

Hereford has allowed only three touchdowns passes and five rushing scores, thanks largely to a defense that has recorded 42 sacks, led by Ed Darney (14) and Tim Ruff (10).

"We get in there pretty fast, which makes the QB get rid of the ball when he doesn't want to," defensive lineman Keith Duley said.

Overlea quarterback Craig McIntosh threw for more than 2,000 yards and 19 touchdown in the regular season. He did not throw a touchdown against Hereford, which later limited Pikesville's Damond Malloy (1,688 rushing yards) to 10 rushing yards. Only one running back has gained more than 100 yards against the Bulls.

"We'll bring our `A' game [today]," Duley said. "The championship means everything to us, our school."

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