Traditionally, Southern Maryland is not among the first stops on college football coaches' recruiting itineraries, but this is not a typical season.
McDonough High School added to the region's credibility by winning the Class B state title last year. This season, Leonard Neal, one of Maryland's top scholastic athletes, is making a name for himself at Leonardtown.
Some runners have power and others specialize in speed or guile. Neal, a three-year starter at halfback, has it all. For two years, the Raiders' opponents have known that their chief task has been to stop Neal.
At 5 feet 11 and 180 pounds, Neal has rushed for 1,258 yards and 14 touchdowns in nine games this season. He was all-league after gaining 898 yards last year and more than 300 as a second-team sophomore.
"He has such good speed that it's difficult to get a good shot at him," said Leonardtown Coach Steve Wolf. "It's almost impossible for one player to tackle Leonard by himself.
"We don't try to run him to death. He gets the ball 20-25 times per game and averages about seven yards per carry. Leonard runs outside or inside, but rarely is he caught for a loss.
"He also starts on defense as our weakside cornerback. That means he's often forced to go one on one against the other team's best receiver, but Leonard seldom gets beat. He's also has five interceptions."
Two weeks ago, Great Mills held Neal to 72 yards and Leonardtown (5-4) lost, 12-7, probably costing the Raiders a shot at the state playoffs. It was the first time all season that Neal was held under 100 yards.
"He knows that everyone's setting their defense to stop him, but he just takes it in stride," Wolf said. "Lately, they've been taking away the outside and forcing him to run between the tight ends."
Walter Johnson's football coach, Guy Borelli, has told his team and school officials recently that was quitting. Saturday, the Spartans went out and ended a 16-game losing streak in stylish fashion by defeating previously unbeaten Poolesville, 20-13.
Borelli, who has coached the Spartans for two seasons with a 2-17 record, will coach through Saturday's season finale at Whitman . . . Defensive end Brent Lingenfelter has blocked seven punts in nine games for Richard Montgomery. "He gets an amazing jump off the ball, has great speed and isn't afraid of contact," said his coach, Allen Avery . . .
The second annual National Bank of Washington Classic basketball tournament will be Dec. 14-15 at George Washington University's Smith Center. DeMatha, which finished last season as the nation's No. 1 high school team, and St. John's will face Philadelphia's Dobbins Tech and the Bronx's Boys and Girls High School. First-round pairings have not been announced . . . Quarterback Mark Ray of Pallotti (9-0) might be the area's most proficient passer, if not best, scholastic quarterback, completing 126 of 220 passes for 2,189 yards and 21 passes through nine games. Wide receiver Brian MacLean, his favorite target, has 58 catches for 1,054 yards and 16 touchdowns.