Gilman takes aim at Urbana's streak

Frederick County power has won 50 in a row

High Schools

Football

September 05, 2002|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

Urbana will come to Morgan State's Hughes Stadium tonight to face Gilman with an unmatched resume of success: four straight state titles, four straight undefeated seasons and a state-record 50-game winning streak.

And Gilman coach Biff Poggi expects them to bring along thousands of their closest friends.

"The place gets a little nutty about their football," said Poggi, who distinctively recalled his team's trip to Ijamsville last year, when his team's arrival was greeted by a mob of towel-waving Urbana fans. "I'm sure they're going to bring 3,000 to 4,000 fans. It's going to be exciting. It ought to be a real good high school football game."

The meeting between the two football titans tonight at 7 has more than just the small town in Frederick County abuzz. It's perhaps the state's most anticipated high school game of the season.

Gilman is coming off a 12-3 victory last week over DeMatha, which entered the season ranked 22th in the nation by USA Today. And as Urbana opens its season, all discussions fittingly begin and end with "The Streak."

"You cannot not talk about it [the streak], but it's not something we can labor over," said Urbana coach Dave Carruthers. "It's nice to achieve what we've achieved, but we have to focus on the present. I told the players that they have an opportunity to do something special."

As do Poggi and the Greyhounds, who have played down what ending the streak would mean. The Greyhounds nearly stopped it at 38 last year; they led 7-6 at halftime but were denied by a late Urbana goal-line stand and lost, 12-7.

A lot has happened since then, especially for Urbana. The Hawks surpassed Howard High School for the most consecutive victories in state history with 48, and won their Maryland-record fourth consecutive state title (three in Class 2A and one - last year's - in 3A).

Still, Carruthers suggested this week that the Hawks come here as underdogs, a declaration that can be dismissed as coaches' speak or one that might have merit considering the number of players the Hawks graduated.

Quarterback Joe Conner and receiver Billy Gaines, who played huge roles in last year's game, are gone, as is nearly every member of the defense. Defensive coordinator Rick Conner left to become coach at Linganore.

Still, Poggi has watched a lot of film of the Hawks, and what he has seen is a talented and well-coached team, which is led by 6-foot-4, 200-pound Eric Lenz. The junior plays wide receiver and defensive end, but his biggest contributions may come on special teams: He nailed a 50-yard field goal in Urbana's 29-23, three-overtime victory over Seneca Valley last year in the Class 3A semifinals.

Lenz is just one reason Poggi is not buying the fact that Urbana is in a rebuilding year.

"You don't win 50 games in a row only because you have great players," Poggi said. "You win 50 games in a row 'cause you have developed a great program. There's not a kid on that team that's lost a high school football game. That's a little nuts."

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