J. Maybin, Catonsville aim for playoff run

On High Schools

November 11, 2005|By MILTON KENT

Sometimes, the hoary and quaint concept of a sports team as family can be taken a little too far, but don't tell that to Catonsville running back Jaren Maybin.

Maybin, one of the state's leading rushers, truly believes that his Comets teammates are like kin, from the way they stretch and work out together - varsity and junior varsity - to the way his blockers stick around to watch and listen to him being interviewed by a reporter.

"We're a lot tighter as a team," Maybin said. "We hang out all the time. Every day we are around each other. Like today, we're going to one of the linemen's house and watching game tape and eating pizza. We do that all the time this year. We didn't do anything of that last year."

Speaking of family, Maybin, a senior who leads the area in rushing, is hoping to get a scholarship offer from a Division I or I-AA program to match his cousin, Aaron Maybin, a Mount Hebron senior defensive lineman who is going to Penn State next fall.

Jaren Maybin missed a critical offseason camp that might have gotten him the same kind of attention that his younger, bigger cousin has received, but his rushing has certainly put colleges on notice.

"He [Aaron] is a good player and he went to Nike Camp and that's what sent him off," said Jaren Maybin. "I think if I had gone, it would be a different situation. But you can't change the past. You just have to do what you've got to on the field now.

"We're both good. We're Maybins. He holds it down on the defensive end and I've got it at running back."

Last year, Catonsville eked its way into the Class 3A state playoffs before losing in the first round to Bel Air and finishing 6-5. This season, the Comets (7-2 heading into tonight's regular-season finale at home against Woodlawn) believe their playoff stay will be considerably longer.

"This is the first time where we haven't felt uncomfortable as a coaching staff saying we expect to get into the playoffs and do well," said Catonsville coach Rich Hambor. "In years past, we've said if things work out, maybe we'll get in and then we'll worry about it. But we feel comfortable telling them if we get in, we can do some things and we can make a little run."

If that happens, it will be in large part because of the running of Maybin, who has gained 1,710 yards this season, 78 yards more than Franklin's Scott Noble.

As the feature back in the Comets' "Hard Times" offense, dreamed up by assistant Warren Como, Maybin lines up at tailback in a power-I formation but with a twist: a third back lines up behind a tackle, even with the fullback.

Maybin has run the ball 200 more times than any other runner on the Comets' roster, and quarterback Brian Midkiff has fewer than eight passing attempts per game. That kind of offensive imbalance could lead to problems on a team that isn't winning or doesn't have solid chemistry.

Luckily for Hambor, neither of those conditions is in play.

"It's not our philosophy to try to get him [Maybin] numbers," said Hambor, in his second season as head coach after nine years as an assistant at Catonsville and Randallstown.

"The only numbers we want to get are wins, and I think the kids know in this style, somebody's going to get the bigger numbers. But they know without the other two backs willing to block and the quarterback who doesn't mind handing off 45 times a game to get my three or four throws, it doesn't work. They have faith that it's going to work. Whatever numbers he has pays off in a win."

Maybin, who is generously listed on the Catonsville roster as 5 feet 9 and 175 pounds, averages nearly 31 carries per game. He is capable of big gains, but his 6.2-yard average, though impressive, is about a yard per carry fewer than the rest of the top 10 Baltimore area rushers.

"He doesn't go zero, zero, zero, 25," Hambor said. "He's pretty much 4, 8, 6. He'll have an occasional long run. It's not that he can't, but he's getting something on every play. That average is pretty indicative of his typical play."

Beyond whatever the Comets do in the postseason, Maybin's grind-it-out style is about to yield big rewards. His 3,114 career rushing yards are just 14 behind Chris Wilson, the school's all-time leading rusher, and he needs just 15 points to pass Wilson as the leading scorer in the program's history.

If nothing else, Maybin has given the Catonsville football family something that numbers can't measure, namely a sense of pride.

"If you look at Catonsville history, we were 2-8 [his sophomore year]. We've turned this around," Maybin said. "This is a whole different Catonsville. People aren't going to look past us anymore.

"We changed it last year, this year and into the future. We have 10th-graders coming up who can do this. We are a different Catonsville. People will not walk all over Catonsville anymore."

milton.kent@baltsun.com

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