Later football playoffs block players' transition to winter

Aberdeen, Broadneck lack most of basketball team until last tackle is made

High Schools

December 03, 2003|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

Aberdeen's run to the Class 2A state football championship game has created a buzz of excitement in the Harford County school, and a cloud of uncertainty around its basketball program.

As many as nine football players were expected to help the Aberdeen basketball team defend its county championship this season. Four of the nine are projected as starters.

But with the football team's success - Aberdeen plays Potomac on Saturday at 11 a.m. - the Eagles' basketball season has been put on hold.

Aberdeen basketball coach Richard Hart, who counts football players Erin Henderson, Shawn Lewis and Phillip Brown among his standouts, has been practicing with just three players and hasn't been able to make final cuts.

"I don't know what to expect," said Hart, who was already forced to cancel two scrimmages and will likely cancel the Eagles' first game. "This is something we haven't had to deal with in the past."

Neither has anyone else. In preceding years, the state football championships would have been over last weekend, allowing players who compete in both sports at least four practices with the basketball team before its season starts.

However, with the expansion of the state football playoffs this year, football and basketball season overlap slightly. The first day of the winter season for public schools is Friday.

Meanwhile, the Class 3A state title football game is tomorrow, the Class 4A game is on Friday and the 2A and 1A championships will be contested on Saturday, all at M&T Bank Stadium.

"That was one of the things going in that when you weigh the issues, that overlap came down into the negative side," said Ned Sparks, executive director of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association. "There was good and bad to it."

On the same day Aberdeen will go for its first state football title, the Eagles basketball team is scheduled to play Randallstown in a mixer tournament.

Aberdeen athletic director Matt Roberts said that they will likely postpone the game, rather than send a team of three varsity players and a handful of JV callups up against one of the top programs in the state.

"It's a good problem to have," Roberts said. "Our main interest right now is our football team. You don't get too many chances to play for a state title."

The Eagles' next game - Tuesday against Thomas Johnson - has been pushed back until Wednesday to give the football players one more day of basketball practice.

Sparks said there is no state regulation regarding the number of practices an athlete, transitioning from football to basketball, must participate in before seeing game action.

Coordinator of Athletics Forest Wiest said Harford County allows the individual coaches to make that decision.

Joppatowne basketball coach Al Johnson is expecting a handful of football players, who play Beall Saturday in the Class 1A title game, to try out for his team, but is not sure how many.

The Broadneck football team, which faces Damascus on Friday night in the 4A title game, has eight basketball players, including potential starters Andrew Holland, Jordan Sokel and Alex Denny.

First-year Bruins coach Johnny Williams said that he will likely have the two-sport Bruins participate in five practices before seeing game action. He set Dec. 16 as the likely target date for their return.

That would mean that the eight football players would not play Saturday against Annapolis Area Christian, Monday against Annapolis (rescheduled from Friday so students can attend the football game), Dec. 9 against Glen Burnie and Dec. 12 against South River.

"It's very important our guys are healthy and capable of playing basketball," said Williams, who has called up some JV players. "I want to make sure we at least get a few practices in there as a team and we're on the same page."

The prolonged season has affected wrestling, too.

Joppatowne fullback/defensive end Jeremy Navarre won a Class 2A-1A state championship last year at the 215 weight class, but will be at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday while the Mariners' wrestling team is hosting a tournament.

Broadneck linebacker Tyler Moyer, a 4A-3A state runner-up at 215, is among five Bruins on the wrestling team, which will compete in the River Hill duals Friday and Saturday.

Sun staff writer Pat O'Malley contributed to this article.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.