At Havre de Grace, old friends keep things simple, successful

The Kickoff

November 27, 2006|By MILTON KENT

Josh Appold found a solitary spot on the Havre de Grace bench in the warmth of the late autumn sun Saturday afternoon, while his Warriors teammates whooped and cajoled the defense to stop New Town's offense.

Appold, a senior quarterback, wasn't being aloof or distant, but was trying not to lose himself in any given moment.

"I just try to keep my focus," Appold said. "It's a regional championship game. You're getting all pumped up and everything. As a quarterback, you have to keep your focus so you can throw good passes."

Appold, perhaps, didn't throw as many good passes as he had in the Warriors' first state Class 1A playoff game, but he threw enough of them to move Havre de Grace into the state semifinals for the first time since 1995.

More to the point, perhaps, Travis Brown caught enough of Appold's passes, as well as a few of New Town's interceptions, to help hold off the Titans, 22-15, at Woodlawn's Liles Stadium.

Brown, a 6-foot-3 senior receiver, was nothing short of fantastic Saturday, with seven catches for 114 yards and one touchdown, as well as three interceptions, including two in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. Together, Brown and Appold continued doing what they've been doing since they were kids, throwing and catching.

"We played park and rec together," Brown said. "We grew up together, so Josh is basically my brother. We practice hard and we have our little talks on the bus and in practice. We stay after practice, and I run my routes and he does his drops. And we go early to practice. I don't know, but when I'm out wide and he's under center, we're thinking the same thing."

That connection was on full display in the third quarter after the Warriors successfully executed an onside kick to start the second half. Two plays later, with the ball on the New Town 39, Brown, who was in single coverage, took the defender wide, then came back as Appold's pass was short.

Brown, who also plays basketball, said the defender, who was shorter, essentially boxed him out, as if they were going for a rebound.

"I knew I had to either get in front of him or go over top of him," said Brown, with a grin. "He kind of boxed me out, so I went over the top. Either I catch this, or it's over."

Brown, who was converted from quarterback to receiver when he and Appold came to the varsity in 10th grade, reached over, gathered in the pass at the 20, then spun out and ran in to boost Havre de Grace's lead to 15-7.

"Basically, it's two quarterbacks, but one plays receiver," Havre de Grace coach John Brooks said. "They kind of have that cohesion. They've developed ... I don't know what you want to call it, but it works for us. I just want to keep them both healthy, because they both go both ways for us. They take a pounding. Travis has emerged this year as a standout wide-out. He's really stepped it up, and Josh is just a great kid, on and off the field. I think they play off each other well. They read each other's minds. I tell [Appold] to throw it up and let him [Brown] go get it. That's what they've been doing lately, and we've been playing well lately."

Appold, who threw for 190 yards on 14-for-26 passing Saturday, was off his recent standard. He had thrown for 10 touchdowns in the previous three games, including four in a dramatic 51-50 comeback win over Catoctin in the playoff opener.

He did have a pretty relevant excuse, though. On Wednesday, Appold had broken a vase at home and had tried to clean up the mess before his mother could discover it. He got all of the glass, save for one piece, which sliced his foot and led to 10 stitches, proving once again that, in life, it's hardly ever the act that gets you in trouble, but the cover-up.

The weather might not be as warm next weekend, when the state semifinals are staged, but, for Havre de Grace, which has managed to stay out of the limelight this fall, the good news is a couple of lifelong friends will be there, just playing football with their teammates.

"I like it that way," Appold said. "Nobody really expects anything from us. We come on the field and we kind of play laid back, and then we put up a lot of points. That's all there is to it."

As simple as throwing it and catching it.

milton.kent@baltsun.com

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