Father knows best, legend's son attests

Joppatowne: Mariners first-year head coach Bill Waibel is carrying on his late father Augie's legacy of smash-mouth football.


September 02, 2004|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Joppatowne's Bill Waibel often asks himself a question before calling an offensive play.

What would his father do?

The first-year Mariners' head coach is the son of the late Augie Waibel, whose adherence to a power running game made him a local legend.

Let an opposing coach describe how the son is like the father.

"Just come out and smack you in the mouth," said Forest Park coach Obie Barnes, who played for the elder Waibel at Edmondson. "It's the same style Augie used."

As a nine-year assistant to Greg Komondor, Bill Waibel, 41, modeled Joppatowne's offense after those his father led at Poly and Edmondson

"To some degree as a coach, you teach as you were taught. I inherited a lot of his style and beliefs, so a lot of times I'll do what my father did," said Waibel, who became coach of the defending 1A state champs in June after Komondor accepted a position as vice principal.

"With certain plays, I can remember my father saying, `Wait until they stop it, then make an adjustment and go somewhere else,' " Waibel said. "Anybody can attest that we'll run the same play in a row a lot if it works."

Repetition helped Augie Waibel win 11 Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference crowns and three B Conference titles.

Waibel retired in 1997 with a record of 280-75. In 35 years of coaching - 31 at Poly - he had winning seasons in all but four. He died in January 2001 at age 67.

His memory, however, lives on in Bill, who hopes to lead Joppatowne to a second consecutive state title.

"I'm humbled [by the comparisons to my father]," Waibel said. "Since the spotlight's already on us as state champs, it adds pressure."

The team's coaching structure, though, will be similar. John Horgan, Waibel's chief assistant, replaces Komondor as defensive coordinator.

"I see it as an easy transition since Bill ran our offense for nine years and I never questioned him because he's always prepared, thinking two or three plays ahead," Komondor said.

"Bill's a stickler for detail, paying attention to the mechanics of the linemen, quarterback, running back. It's no secret that's something he learned from his dad."

The middle child of three, Bill Waibel has been absorbing the game for a long time.

"The kids were in strollers when I started taking them to Augie's games," said Betty Waibel, Augie's wife of 44 years and a grandmother of six. "As they got older, they'd run down on the field after games, always excited to see Daddy out there."

Bill is "intense like his father" during games, his mother said, while being "even tempered" off the field.

His Mariners have the makeup of his father's teams.

Quarterback Anthony Preston runs more than he throws behind an offensive line that includes John Hardesty (6-feet, 240 pounds), Spencer Washington (6-1, 265) and Randall Russem (6-2, 315).

The defense, led by 6-5, 250-pound Jeremy Navarre, The Sun's Male Athlete of the Year, can turn a game in its favor in an instant.

"We have a good corps of seniors and leadership. They're all about football, physically tough," Waibel said. "They love to hit; Dad would like that about them."

Navarre saw what the elder Waibel meant to his coach last spring when Bill and one of his two sons, Will, 8, joined Navarre on a recruiting visit to the University of Maryland.

Posted in Maryland's training facility was a team photo of the Terps' 1954 national championship team. Bill pointed at the face of Augie, then a Terps center, and told his son how great his grandfather was.

"It was a big deal for me to see that," Navarre said. "The kids on the team all realize who [Coach Waibel's] dad was and how he was a legend as a coach at Poly. We realize that the bar's been set pretty high. We want to win states for him again."

Augie probably would have loved last year's title run, particularly the Mariners' 21-0 defeat of Dunbar in the state semifinals.

Navarre set the tone by blocking a punt on the Poets' first offensive series that set up Joppatowne's first score.

Augie also would have been impressed that the offense gained nearly 300 rushing yards against Dunbar, and that Preston, the quarterback, rushed for 170 yards in the 26-6 rout of Beall in the state championship.

"I wish Augie could be here to see him," Betty Waibel said.

"But I know he's looking down on Bill right now, and he's just as proud as I am."

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