Towson Football Preview 2011

Local gridders look for running start to season

(Photo illustration, Patuxent…)
August 31, 2011

While area prep squads prepare for new season, coaches are feverishly attempting to figure out the best way to put more oomph into offenses and determination into defenses.

Look for your favorite team's most uplifting prospects below:

Boys' Latin

2010 record: 7-3

Returning starters (offense): 4

Returning starters (defense): 4

First game: Sept. 2, 7 p.m., at Catonsville

Fast facts: Dominating two-way senior lineman Greg Pike (6 feet, 5 inches, 305 pounds) has verbally committed to the University of Georgia. "He had 15 offers," said Boys' Latin coach Ritchie Schell, adding that West Virginia, Penn State, Michigan, Connecticut and Maryland were among them.

Key to success: Senior Brett Radcliffe (6-1, 180) and sophomore Frederick Bopst (6-2, 170) are engaged in a heated battle to run the multiple-I offense.

Breakdown: Schell hopes there won't be any slippage from the defense.

The Lakers gave up an average of only 11 points per game last year, but defensive end Marco Jones (University of Virginia) and cornerback Michael Turner (Cornell University) are gone.

So are five other starters.

"We had some really good players that graduated," Schell says. "We had eight all-conference players on defense. We could have had 10 if I had been greedy. We are smaller, but we are athletic and fast."

It's going to be difficult for opponents to neutralize Pike, who can get to the quarterback and stop the run in the Lakers' 4-4 defense.

"He has NFL potential," Schell said. "That's what everybody is saying. He is an unbelievable athlete."

Matt Rees (6-3, 210) joins Pike (50 tackles, 5 sacks) upfront.

Two outstanding veterans — seniors Shawn Mulroy (5-10, 190) and Geron Brooks (5-10, 190) — return to start at linebacker.

The secondary doesn't have a big-play star, but does have several solid players. Junior Chris Rubino (5-9, 165), a three-year starter, is the leader of the unit that also includes Radcliffe at safety.

On offense, the coaching staff will spend extra time working with Radcliffe and Bopst, a junior varsity call-up with great promise.

"They are both athletic and have strong arms," Schelle said. "But they have to improve on their accuracy and pocket awareness."

Right tackle Pike, Rees, a left tackle, and senior center Eric Simmons (5-8, 250) are experienced, big and strong linemen expected to help improve the rushing attack.

Senior Brandon Cherry (5-6, 160), a two-year starter is a threat at tailback while junior Ben Pridemore (5-11, 155) has big-play ability at wide receiver.

Calvert Hall

2010 record: 11-1

Returning starters (offense): 5

Returning starters (defense): 5

First game: Sept. 1, 8 p.m., at Bowie State University vs. St. John's (D.C.)

Fast fact: The Cardinals captured their first Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title last season.

Key to success: On a team that returns almost every skill position player, new faces in the trenches must grow up in a hurry.

Breakdown: Coach Donald Davis is well aware that last year's dream season, which could have been a nightmare for a team that won a slew of close games, will be difficult to replicate.

"Last year, there were four games that we could have lost, but we found ways to win," Davis said. "The year before, we lost some close ones."

Knowing there can be a fine line between being a victor or victim, Davis is looking for enough blocking up front from seniors A.J. Belzner (5-9, 240) and Ricky Walston (6-0, 290) and junior Mike Manoch (5-10, 230) to spring battle-tested senior running backs C.J. Williams (6-0, 200) and Brandon Neverdon (5-8, 170) and juniors Garrett Keene (5-9, 180) and Stephen Kelly (5-10, 170).

Senior quarterback Thomas Stuart (5-11, 165) runs the show with an accurate arm, terrific instincts and knack for making big plays.

He'll also have a trio of tall and talented wideouts — senior Trevor Williams (6-1, 180) and juniors Delando Johnson (6-1, 175) and Kyle Levere (6-1, 180) — at his disposal.

On defense, Johnson will move to rush end with senior Ky Reinhardt (6-1, 180) on the other side.

Senior Da'Quan Davis (5-11, 170) anchors the backfield while C.J. Williams and junior Garrett Epple (6-0, 190) man the inside slots and senior Travon Barnes (5-11, 180) and junior Tom Hollenback (5-10, 180) the outside for the linebacking corps.

As defending champs, Davis and company will be every conference rival's top target in 2011.

"We know we're the hunted, but don't approach the season any differently," Davis said. "It's the same as if we were coming off a 4-7 season. We know what we have to do to be successful."

Dulaney

2010 record: 1-9

Returning starters (offense): 8

Returning starters (defense): 7

First game: Sept. 2 at Kenwood, 7 p.m.

Fast fact: The Lions have haven't won more than two games in any of the last seven seasons.

Key to success: The Lions yielded a whopping 356 points last year, so they need the defense to stop the bleeding.

Breakdown: Is Dulaney eyeing another 1-9 season this fall? Rookie coach Chris Fallon says a turnaround is ahead.

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