Soccer success, friendship link coaches Shea, Stara


High Schools

October 03, 2002|By Rick Belz and Jeff Zrebiec | Rick Belz and Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

Whenever Oakland Mills and River Hill meet in boys soccer, as they did Tuesday, the game is always slightly overshadowed by the intriguing coaching matchup and the social differences between the schools.

Oakland Mills' Don Shea and River Hill's Bill Stara are contemporaries who both grew up in the Pittsburgh area, played college soccer in Pennsylvania and ended up in Maryland as two of its all-time coaching success stories.

They also were each other's best man at their weddings, and they remain friends.

Stara has a 301-36-15 record and 10 state championships coaching at Centennial and River Hill. Shea is 273-75-23 with eight state titles coaching at Elkton and Oakland Mills.

The head-to-head coaching rivalry stretches back to 1986 when Shea came to Oakland Mills and Stara was at Centennial. Since then, their teams have met 21 times.

Stara's teams have won 10, lost eight and tied three. That means eight of Stara's 36 career losses were at the hands of Shea-coached teams.

Their teams have met four times in regional championship games, with Shea's teams holding a 3-1 edge.

Oakland Mills, a Class 1A school with the lowest student population in the county, has much more economic and academic diversity than River Hill, a 3A school situated in a high-income district.

In recent years, Oakland Mills has drawn few skilled, longtime travel soccer players compared with River Hill, a tech magnet school that is always being accused, without substance, of recruiting top players.

To compensate, Shea has devised a unique system of play that often resembles kickball or volleyball as much as soccer. The system allows him to used his team's outstanding but often unskilled athletic talent and to take advantage of the county's small soccer fields.

No. 12-ranked Oakland Mills' 2-0 upset of No. 1 River Hill Tuesday was not really a surprise this year.

The undefeated Scorpions have the two best throw-in players in the state. Senior Adam Magruder can fling a ball accurately on a line 40 yards or better. Junior Brian Hamilton can throw nearly as far and with more height. And Oakland Mills has several tall players trained to head those throws into the goal.

Add transfer Saah Johnson, one of the state's most skilled strikers, and it's combination that's nearly impossible to stop, and the reason that eight different players have combined to score Oakland Mills' 16 goals.

Scorpions' Hall of Famers

Ken Klock and Sam Singleton were inducted into the Oakland Mills Athletic Hall of Fame at halftime of Saturday's football homecoming game.

Klock, now the athletic director at Reservoir, compiled an 86-41 football coaching record for the Scorpions. That included three county and three regional titles and one state runner-up team. He's also a Hall of Famer at Bloomsburg (Pa.) University, where he played football.

Singleton's teams won 16 state championships in boys and girls indoor and outdoor track at Oakland Mills. Now Reservoir's football coach, he also is a Hall of Famer at Wayne State University in Michigan, where he was a star running back.

Bantz's homecoming

When the first-year, Rick Bantz-coached Reservoir Gators played Oakland Mills in boys JV soccer Sept. 24 at Oakland Mills, the Scorpions rolled out the red carpet for their former longtime JV and assistant varsity coach.

In addition to banners that read "Welcome Back Bantz" and "Thanks for the Memories," he was presented with a soccer ball inscribed with the years of Oakland Mills' state championship teams that he helped coach, as well as the names of former players who are now coaches.

"It was quite an emotional moment," said Bantz, who coached 18 years at Oakland Mills. "Alumni came up and were hugging me. It was surreal. It was really appreciated."

Reservoir won the game, 1-0.

Phelps wins `QB Challenge'

Glenelg quarterback Tim Phelps won the Toyota Quarterback Challenge during halftime of Monday's Ravens game.

The event tests a quarterback's ability to throw for distance and takes place at each Ravens home game.

Phelps, competing against Milford Mill's Dante Smith, threw 54 yards to Smith's 51 yards. Phelps' throw was the longest this season, and it won a video camera for his school.

Oakland Mills quarterback J.T. Rembert won last season's overall title with a 56-yard toss.

Howard on rise

While much of the talk about improved county volleyball teams has centered on Mount Hebron, don't forget about Howard.

With their three-game victory over Long Reach on Tuesday, the Lions improved to 4-3 overall (3-3 county) and surpassed their win total from last season.

More proof of their improvement came at last weekend's Gwynn Park Tournament, where Grant Scott's team went 6-3 in pool play, after going 1-7 in the tournament last year.

"My girls have worked really hard and they feel like now is their time," said Scott, who called this year's team his best in his three years at the varsity level at Howard.

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