While football coaches all over the area are trying to replace graduated all-stars, Thomas Stone of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference (SMAC), has a tougher task. It must replace Coach Brian Stevens, whose teams produced a 39-1 record over the last four years.
Stevens left Thomas Stone to become a vice principal at La Plata High School. Athletic director Ron Stover replaces him.
Stover must also find replacements for nine players who made the all-league team a year ago. He can, however, draw from an 8-0 junior varsity team, and does have some talent back.
"Basically, we're very young," Stover said. "A lot of our players got playing time last year (in the late stages of one-sided games), but our success this year will depend on how we get together as a team."
Last year's backup quarterback, Steve Gordon, will lead the offense, throwing to ends Glen Hoffman and Chuck Holman, who saw a good deal of action last year. Glenn Schmidt (6-0, 215) and Matt King (6-1, 200) will provide bulk up front on offense and defense.
McDonough (7-3), which finished second last year, has last year's offensive line and backfield intact. Quarterback Robert Sherbert and speedy back Robert Aughinbaugh will lead have an offensive line that averages 215 pounds. That group includes Albert Murray, an all-league pick at guard last year.
Defensively, McDonough will have Marty Gragen, a 6-0, 225-pound defensive tackle, Thomas Jones, who started at linebacker last year as a sophomore, and Aughinbaugh, the backbone of the secondary.
Coach Lloyd Chadwick of La Plata hopes his young team can come around fast enough to contend. Chadwick used 14 sophomores at one time or another on last year's 7-3 team. Offensively, La Plata is loaded at the skill positions. Leading rusher Donny Clark, who averaged 6.2 yards a carry as a sophomore is back. So is receiver Michael Coates, who caught 19 passes last year.
Mark Bell, an offensive and defensive tackle (6-3, 235) is the key to both lines for La Plata.
In Anne Arundel AA, Old Mill (6-4) has 23 players from last year's team. Quarterback David Beck is back, along with fullback/defensive back Brad Buse, who will anchor the running game.
Beck and Buse should be well protected because the offensive line has some real beef in it. Tackle Dave Allison (6-2, 290), guard Steve Boggs (6-1, 230) and Roy Carter (5-9, 260) should clear the way for the backs. Each can also play defensive line.
Old Mill can also draw from an excellent junior varsity squad that was 8-1 last year.
Meade (8-2), last year's AA champion, should contend. Coach Jerry Mears has four starters back on offense, including running back Claude Walker (700 yards), and five on defense. Defensive tackle Scott Harmon (6-0, 210), linebacker Antoine Poole (5-10, 180) and cornerback Marty Chavers are the top returnees.
"I look at our kids and don't see a lot of experience," Mears said. "But everyone else (in our conference) is in the same boat."
Glen Burnie (6-4) and Severna Park (7-3) graduated almost everyone. Glen Burnie will feature fullback Brett Busch, wingback Chris Lanham, tackle Russ LaAsmore (6-2, 200), cornerback Walter Robinette and end Bob Plaine on defense.
Severna Park may use freshman Tom Neel at runing back, and has tackle Joe Kits (6-3,255) and guard Buz Purddie (6-1, 190) back.
In Anne Arundel ABC, South River (9-1) should face a challenge from Southern (6-4) and Northeast (5-5). South River will rely on two seniors, tackle Tim Brooks (6-3, 230), who has drawn the attention of some big schools, and all-league fullback/linebacker Mike White (6-0, 190). Northeast lost all-league quarterback Azizuddin Ra'oof to the Maryland football program, but returns running back Skip Banks and John Jenderk (6-0, 220), Walt Solley (6-0, 230) and Mike Barger (6-0, 220).
In Howard County, defending champion and state playoff runner-up Mt. Hebron (10-2 overall) has its share of talent again this year. The key to coach Ed Holshue's pass-oriented offense is all-county quarterback John Fleming. Fleming (6-1, 180) passed for more than 1,500 yards last season and is considered by college scouts to be one of the area's best quarterbacks. He is a three-year starter, as is running back/safety Rich Burnich. Another three-year starter, Greg Schaub, has been moved from fullback to tight end to take advantage of his blocking and receiving skills.
Holshue admits his team needs more experience on defense, but will start with Dewey Collins (6-1, 205) on the line. Burnich will call the defensive signals.
Oakland Mills (9-2) and Atholton (6-3) will try to keep pace. Oakland Mills has tackle Terrence McMillen (6-1, 210), end Kenny Huff and fullback Thomas Washington back, but Coach Ken Clock says he must develop greater depth, although he has had only 26 players out for practice.
Atholton also had a poor turnout for fall practice, but has a solid nucleus upon which to build. Quarterback Gary Murdock is a third-year starter at quarterback and made most all-county teams as a punter and/or placekicker. Tackle David Pickett returns along with all-county defensive lineman Colin Winchester (5-10, 205).