Super Bowl XLIII
DuVall comes with the added bonus of being quite knowledgeable about the sport in question. He coached 18 county and five state champion teams at Wilde Lake before retiring after the 2008 season.
This is DuVall’s take on Sunday’s game:
“Bruce Arians, the offensive coordinator for Pittsburgh, I’ve known since he was a college coach and he’s actually the brother of Kathy Hanks, who used to be our secretary at Wilde Lake High School, and so I’ve known him a long time.
“I hope Kurt has a great day and the Cardinals can upset Pittsburgh, but if I had to bet real money on it I’d be betting on Pittsburgh.”
Brian Van Deusen knows good defense. His River Hill Hawks have allowed only 81 points in the last 28 games. That’s two 14-0 seasons with two state championships and less than three points allowed per game. So it’s no surprise that Van Deusen thinks that the team with the better defense will win on Sunday.
“I have to go with the stronger defense in the big game. Pittsburgh has the No. 1 defense in the league and has some playmakers on offense. They also have the playoff and Super Bowl experience on their side. I think it will be 24-14 Pittsburgh.”
There’s a reason Van Deusen looks so comfortable doing the Big Ben/Kurt Winner impersonation in the above file photo from 2003. He holds the career passing yards record (7,239, 1992-1995) at Western Maryland (now McDaniel College) and his name is listed about 101 times in the Green Terror record book.
Editor’s note: Neither The Howard County Times nor its parent company, Tribune Co., endorse gambling of any kind.
On Friday evening while covering the indoor track county championships at Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex, I attempted to hop a fence to interview River Hill’s Craig Morgan. Morgan had just run a leg of the victorious 4×800 relay moments after winning the 800 individual race. He was seated and looked exhausted. I didn’t want him to have to stand up to answer my questions across the barricade. As I was halfway over, Morgan tried to warn me. Apparently this is a big no-no at the PGSLC. A staff member was already halfway through his tongue-lashing by the time my feet hit the ground on the other side.
“I’ve been trying to tell these kids all day not to do that!” the man shamed me.
“OK, I’m sorry,” I said, with genuine remorse. He seemed satisfied and walked away, leaving me to my interview.
A few minutes later, I was interviewing Morgan’s coach, Earl Lauer, across the barrier. I wasn’t worried about Lauer trying to jump the fence. But Morgan, trying to leave that area, tried a novel approach. He could see the logic in not stepping all over the barriers, jostling them around. So the slender runner nimbly barrel-rolled under the fence, not disturbing it a bit. Bad idea.
“UH-UH! UH-UH! UH-UH! NOT ALLOWED!” the man cried.
“I can’t go under? … ugh, all right,” Morgan said as he rolled BACK UNDER the fence, to walk around.
“IN THIS FACILITY THE RULES HAVE NOT CHANGED, NO CLIMBING OVER THE RAILS, NO CLIMBING UNDER THE RAILS,” the man declared.
“OK, OK, he’s got it,” Lauer interjected.
Apparently Lauer had heard enough of his runners being yelled at like schoolchildren. That was his job.
“LET ME FINISH, COACH, I’M TALKING TO HIM,” the man said.
At this point I ducked for cover. The man had just done the equivalent of stepping between a mama bear and her cub. Except that instead of meaning the cub harm, he just wanted to scold it some more for trying to roll under a fence instead of walking 30 yards to go around it.
It got a little ugly from there, with the man accusing Lauer of not disciplining his kids (not a good idea) and Lauer telling the man to send a written complaint to River Hill.
If the man does send the written complaint, I’m sure Lauer can explain to the administration how ridiculous the man was being.
When the standoff finally ended, the man started to walk away, then spotted a group of girls from River Hill’s girls team heading toward the team bus, which was parked outside the back corner of PGSLC.
“GET OFF THE TRACK!” the man screamed at them from across the complex. The spooked girls scurried off the track and into the center field area. “THAT’S STILL THE TRACK GET OFF THE TRACK!” the man bellowed.
As River Hill assistant coach Wes McCoy pointed out afterward, “They’re just trying to leave…”
As someone who has coached young people for more than 30 years, Earl Lauer would have been one of the most qualified people to pass along to this man one of the first lessons he likely learned:
With the midterm break upon us and the season at its halfway point, I thought it would be a good time to hand out some midseason hardware. (I’m not literally handing anything out, though. Sorry. However, I’d be happy to provide a handshake if you see me in person.)
The season resumes on Jan. 24 with the Centennial Duals and a couple good dual meets the same day (Oakland Mills at River Hill, Stephen Decatur at Reservoir). After that we really get into the meat of the league schedule.
But before that, let’s take a minute to appreciate some of the outstanding performances of the first half…
Top freshman: Nathan Kraisser (103), Centennial.
His championship at the Ray Oliver Tournament, and his championship appearance at Mount Mat Madness, give him the edge over Tony Farace of Oakland Mills, who is undefeated with a Francis Scott Key title and deserves honorable mention.
Top sophomore: Mark Colabucci (125), Reservoir.
This one was almost too close to call between Colabucci and River Hill’s Cameron Kirby (119). Kirby certainly had the better freshman year, making it to the state finals. But this year, Colabucci has one less loss, 23-1 to Kirby’s 22-2, and he has won a bracketed tournament, the Grapple at the Brook, though Kirby won a title at the Fort Hill Super Duals by going undefeated there.
Top junior: Kevin Beck (112), Atholton.
This defending state champ is doing outstanding things for a team that is struggling because of a lack of upperweights (1-7 overall, 10th and 11th at two tournaments). He has won titles at the Perry Hall Big 20 and the Grapple at the Brook, and bumped up to beat Cameron Kirby in a dual meet. He is undefeated at 15-0 and has lost only once in his high school career, to Owings Mills’ nationally ranked Avi Friedman at last year’s Perry Hall Big 20. Hammond’s Dylan Gillett (125) gets honorable mention, but a pair of Reservoir juniors, Josh Knox (103) and Mike Mullens (160), also deserve recognition.
Top senior: Scott Mantua (112), River Hill.
If Mantua and Beck meet in the county championship, it could be a meeting between two 2009 state champs. Look out! Go to the bathroom, get your popcorn and get a good seat, ’cause they’re going to go fast. I’ll have a floor seat. Mantua is going for his third state title and is undefeated this season at 24-0. The honorable mention is really a tie between Mantua’s teammate, Nathan White (145), and Reservoir’s Timmy Schwartz (119). Both are undefeated. I really can’t split those two.
Top team: River Hill (5-0, 23-1).
Yes, River Hill got a loss - which honorable mention Reservoir does not - but I think right now the Hawks’ schedule has been tougher with wins over Urbana and Hereford. These two teams should meet in a match that will decide the county champ on Feb. 5 at Reservoir. That will be fun.
Best upset: Hammond senior Danny Flanagan (189) over Catonsville sophomore Tyler Weedon.
Weedon finished third in the state in 2008 while Flanagan finished sixth … in the county. Flanagan is now 18-4 and ranked fifth in the state, and has wins over Reservoir’s county champ Tyler Breitschwerdt among others in what is turning into a breakout season. The win over Weedon came on Jan. 8 at Catonsville, and introduced Flanagan to wrestling enthusiasts across Maryland.
Biggest surprise: Wilde Lake.
The Wildecats started the season 14-4, including second- and third-place finishes at the Aberdeen and Lion Duals, respectively, and have won 20 matches already at the break including wins over Centennial and Milford Mill. A 49-9 loss to Oakland Mills was a wake-up call, but at least this team has put the “wild” back in Wilde Lake wrestling.
Best lightweight: Scott Mantua, River Hill.
Best middle weight: Nathan White, River Hill.
Best heavyweight: Jae Kim (215), Marriotts Ridge. The former region champ beat River Hill’s Jake Pace to earn this honor. He also became Marriotts Ridge’s first 100 match winner this season.
Disagree? Got your own idea for an award? Let me know…
Following another week of close games, the cream appears to be rising to the top and the race for the county championship game is becoming clearer. If the game were to be played today, Atholton and Hammond would be squaring off. Howard County Times and Columbia Flier boys basketball beat reporter Brent Kennedy takes a look at those teams and everyone else in this week’s glance around the county. As always, comments and questions can be directed to email@example.com.
1. Atholton (9-1 county, 12-1 overall). The Raiders are the undisputed top team following a convincing, 69-56, win over Howard on Jan. 14. But, as Glenelg showed two days later, Atholton is far from unbeatable. If Matt Robinson hadn’t hit a jumper just inside the foul line with six seconds left, Glenelg would have pulled off the biggest upset of the season thus far. It’s interesting to note that the team’s three closest county games have come against Mt. Hebron, Glenelg and Centennial, which have a combined 8-22 county record.
At this point, though, it would take three more losses for the Raiders to even be in danger of not making the county championship game.
2. Hammond (8-2, 10-2). The beat goes on for the Golden Bears, who are now winners of seven straight since losing by 12 to Atholton before winter break. This team is deep, athletic and gaining confidence every time it steps on the floor. And while teams around the county keep finding themselves in nailbiters, Hammond has been able to win its games lately by rather convincing margins. The team’s five county games since break have all been won by eight or more points.
If Ira Blossom can put together more games like his 11-point effort against Mt. Hebron, this team will go to an entirely different level.
3. Howard (7-3, 9-4). Not to make excuses for the Lions, but having Justin Hawkins (ankle injury) and his 13.4 points per game sitting on the bench against Atholton was a huge obstacle to overcome. It didn’t help matters when three starters got in to foul trouble in the first half. With no return game with the Raiders in the regular season, it’s going to be awfully difficult to catch first place at this point. Second, however, is well within reach.
There were two wins sandwiched around the loss last week, helping Howard sit alone in third. An interesting storyline to keep an eye on is the sudden increase in scoring production from guard Steven Cruz, who after scoring a combined nine points in the team’s first eight games has averaged over four points in his last five contests. If he can keep defenses honest, that should open up even more room inside.
4. Oakland Mills (6-4, 8-5). The Scorpions stay ahead of Long Reach because they own the head-to-head tiebreaker and showed a lot of poise in avoiding their third straight loss, beating Centennial in overtime. Opposing teams are starting to really hone in on Gionni Williams, who hasn’t scored over 20 points in three straight contests, so the pressure has been on everyone else to elevate their games.
Among those who have answered the call, Greg Whittington has been particularly impressive. He has been playing tough defense around the rim all year, but his scoring has really picked up lately. He had a season-high 13 points against Centennial.
5. Long Reach (6-4, 7-6). The Lightning are finally starting to break open some of these close games and have now won four straight to jump up two spots in the rankings. The fourth quarter against River Hill, which saw Long Reach outscore the Hawks, 22-8, and earn an eight-point win, was particularly big for confidence purposes.
Everyone is playing better, most importantly the guards. Taz Thomas had a 21-point game against Reservoir, while Brandon Bell and Josh Devine are each averaging over six points a game during the current streak. Glenelg is on tap for Friday before a return meeting with Howard next week.
6. Centennial (5-5, 6-7). That win over a top team is still proving elusive, with the latest tough defeat coming in overtime against Oakland Mills. One of the bright spots in the loss, however, was Marcos Ocadiz going for a season-high 22 points and further cementing himself as one of the county’s most promising big men.
The loss to the Scorpions was even tougher considering the Eagles had been tied with Howard in the fourth quarter four days earlier only to end up losing by 13. The odds say that one of these close games has to go Centennial’s way eventually, but it is definitely one of those things that can wear down a team.
7. River Hill (5-5, 6-7). If the Hawks’ season was being compared to a rollercoaster ride, the current portion could be described as the free fall. With back-to-back losses to Long Reach and Marriotts Ridge, River Hill has lost three of four and any momentum gained by beating Atholton right after winter break appears to be long gone.
It certainly doesn’t help that Leron Eaddy was in street clothes for the game against Marriotts Ridge, nursing an injury he suffered in the first quarter against Long Reach. When everyone is healthy and on the floor together River Hill has proven it can beat anyone. Apparently though, when pieces are missing, the Hawks can lose to anyone too.
8. Reservoir (4-6, 6-7). Like River Hill, the Gators are the epitome of the parity sweeping through the county this season. Just when things seemed to be taking a turn for the better following a 12-point win over Oakland Mills, Reservoir falls short in games against Mt. Hebron and Long Reach. Reservoir served as Mt. Hebron’s first county win of the season.
Shane Reybold and Taz Larry were big bright spots last week, as both scored in double figures in all three games. Larry is actually averaging 11.6 points over his last eight games.
9. Wilde Lake (4-6, 5-7). Over the last seven games, the Wildecats have been trading wins and losses every time out, never winning or losing more than one game in a row. Last week that meant losses to Long Reach and Howard around a win over Marriotts Ridge. If the pattern holds true to form, Atholton might be in trouble this friday.
Ben Harvey has established himself as one of the county’s leading scorers with his average of 17.7 point a game and he led the way with 20 against the Mustangs.
10. Marriotts Ridge (3-7, 4-9). It’s been a trying season at times for the Mustangs, but Nick Doolin’s shot at the end of overtime against River Hill certainly made everyone forget about that for at least a little while. Doolin, overall, has been playing some really good basketball of late. Including the two games at the Springbrook Tournament in December, he has scored 13 or more points in eight straight games.
Another name to keep an eye on in the second half of the season is Reshaud Lashley, a junior forward averaging just under eight points over his last three games.
11. Glenelg (2-8, 3-10). The Gladiators make you work for everything you get against them, just ask Atholton. Glenelg had the Raiders down nine points following the third quarter of their game Jan. 16 before losing by one, 58-57. The maturation of freshman Troy Spurrier has really been impressive, as the forward is averaging 11 points over his last eight games. He had only scored nine points combined in his first five games.
12. Mt. Hebron (1-9, 3-10). The Vikings are significantly better than their record, something that they finally were able to prove by beating Reservoir, 57-55. The team had previously lost five county games by single digits, which is a number they ended up adding to later in the week against Hammond, a 59-51 loss. Zach Neal continues to develop into a solid post presence as a sophomore and is averaging 10 points a night over his last five games.
That’s how far Atholton’s field hockey program has come under Jim Brown, who has announced that he has stepped down as head coach.
Technically, it’s only taken Brown three years to turn a perennial loser into a winner. Atholton, 4-9-2, his first year was 14-4 this past fall, reached the state title game.
Most years before Brown became involved with Atholton field hockey, total victories could be counted on the fingers of one hand.
A soccer coach by training, Brown quickly picked up field hockey, a sport both of his daughters played. He knew the value of year-round play and was an excellent motivator. He was possibly the only county coach to film games — and break the film down.
Brown brought pride into the Atholton field hockey program.
He is leaving, he said, because “the schedule of a high school field hockey coach is not congruent to someone who is not a teacher. My employer has been fantastic but without a child in the program it is very difficult to justify being involved,” he said.
His youngest daughter, Kelly, is a senior.
Brown said Crystal Chandler, his assistant coach this year, will take over the team. She is a teacher at Atholton.
Andrew took his first job with the Howard County Times as an editorial assistant/obituary writer in 2001. He has written about an array of sports, from rugby to roller skate dancing. Andrew was a (mediocre) swimmer at Loyola College, but he enjoys playing many sports, including rec-league softball, kickball, basketball, football, soccer, and ultimate Frisbee. He would play rec-league unicycle badminton if he could find a league. He is a fan of all the Baltimore sports clubs, from the O’s to the Blast. When he’s not obsessing over the athletic endeavors of others, Andrew enjoys watching zombie movies from the 70s and 80s. He resides in Catonsville.