New Town may be green, but it's growing

On High Schools

September 10, 2004|By MILTON KENT

AT THE END of a long, hot Saturday afternoon last week, all New Town High's football team had to show for a hard day's effort was an excruciating, 22-19 overtime loss to Franklin, but that's just "the glass is half empty" thinking.

The way Reggie Brooks, New Town's athletic director, would prefer to look at the game, the first varsity contest in the year that the school has been in existence was the first step on the road to something really good.

"It's a project," Brooks said. "It would be nice to win the first time out, but we're building and trying to get things up and running."

For the first new high school in 25 years in Baltimore County, things are mixed at New Town, which is in the booming area of Owings Mills.

The campus, which opened last fall to ninth- and 10th-graders, sparkles, and though the crowd at the game seemed to want something to happen before it would give the Titans their hearts, by game's end, the 500 or so New Town fans were giving the officials and the coaching staff their full-throated attention.

Of course, their discomfort might have had something to do with the school's lack of lights or a working scoreboard. The Titans' field has just four bleacher sections on the far side for the visitors, while New Town students and parents must either sit on the grass or in lawn chairs.

The county recreation and parks department might help with a few bleachers, but the bulk of the $800,000 to $900,000 Brooks thinks the school will need for lights, bleachers and an all-weather field will have to come from the community.

And until there's a sizable group of alumni to give back to the alma mater, someone's going to have to either sell a lot of hot dogs or line up corporate support or both.

Without the lights, New Town will play just four home games this year - including tomorrow's game against Owings Mills - and none after Oct. 8.

But that's a long-distance worry. In the immediate term, New Town hasn't fielded boys or girls soccer teams this year because there wasn't enough interest, and there's still the winter and spring to come.

Ever the optimist, Brooks, who came to New Town after nine years at Milford Mill, smiled when asked how things are going toward building a program and said, "Oh, we'll get it."

And his football team provides a beacon of hope because, though without seniors, it is talented, having reached the county JV title game last year.

Junior quarterback Marlon McLain, though slight in stature at 5 feet 9 and 150 pounds, has definite star quality.

McLain, a left-hander whose brother is the starting quarterback at Randallstown, threw a beautiful pass on a rollout to junior receiver Michael Jefferson for a dazzling 79-yard scoring play that got the Titans on the board on their second possession of the first quarter Saturday.

New Town took a 12-0 lead just before the end of the first period, but mistakes, penalties and turnovers would give Franklin 16 unanswered points in the second quarter and a four-point lead at the half.

Alas, all their youth and immaturity caught up with the Titans in the fourth quarter. After holding the Indians without a touchdown after halftime, New Town took a three-point lead with less than seven minutes to go on a 23-yard scoring pass, only to see Franklin tie the game with a 42-yard field goal with 20 seconds left, then win it in overtime.

The winning score, a 23-yard field goal, came after New Town got a sack on third down but gave the yardage back on a personal foul.

"They're learning. The thing of it is they have to realize that games have momentum, and you have to try to shift momentum back to our side, and that's what we weren't doing," said New Town coach Richard Stichel Jr.

"The biggest thing is they have to get used to playing varsity competition. They're not used to that kind of competition. The game is almost twice as long, and the players are a lot bigger."

Stichel is in his first head coaching stint, having served as an assistant at Sparrows Point before coaching the New Town JV last year, and he's growing with his players. In the fourth quarter, he apologized to his players for using unauthorized language, then dropped on the spot to give his team push-ups.

"He's doing a nice job," Brooks said of Stichel. "He's got the kids out, and he's very energetic. They had meetings in the offseason. That's why they're here now. He called them during the summer and said, `I want you here on Aug. 15.' That's what we're looking for in coaches. And they showed up.

"It's not bad for a first time out."

Not bad, indeed.

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