Broadneck might run into a small problem if it advances deep into the state volleyball tournament: Coach Romonzo Beans knows almost nothing about Maryland's top teams.
Dulaney High School? "Never seen them," Beans said.
Thomas Johnson? "I don't know anything," he said.
Magruder? "To tell you the truth," Beans said, "I haven't really been able to think about anything past our county."
It's a common problem for Anne Arundel volleyball teams this season. The county is so strong, so demanding, that coaches have little time to think about anything -- or anyone -- else.
To advance out of the 4A East Region (made up primarily of Anne Arundel teams) and into the state semifinals, a team must move past Glen Burnie, Broadneck, Arundel, South River and Chesapeake -- all teams with winning records.
"I've never seen it like this," Glen Burnie Coach Andrew Lazzor said. "Getting out of our regional is going to be just as hard as winning the state tournament."
It's a lofty assertion, sure, but here's evidence to back his claim: Earlier this season, top-seeded Broadneck played its worst game of the season against Bowie, the No. 1 seed in the South Region, and still won relatively easily.
"Playing teams from our area just gets harder and harder every year," Beans said. "We've got some of the best volleyball around, and that's good and bad. It makes you better, sure. But it also exhausts you."
Entering this week, seven Anne Arundel soccer teams were still alive deep in the playoffs: both teams from Severna Park, Old Mill's boys, Arundel's boys, Broadneck's girls, South River's girls and Southern's girls.
Coaches called it a testament to soccer in the county.
In two cases, the state quarterfinals came down to two teams from Anne Arundel. In the boys' 4A playoffs, Old Mill played Arundel on Tuesday, with the winner advancing to the semifinals. The same scenario unfolded on the girls' side, with Broadneck meeting South River. Both games ended too late to be included in this edition.
"If our teams were spread out to different parts of the bracket, we might dominate the whole thing," Old Mill boys' coach Jeff Martin said earlier this season. "Teams from this area are just so strong."
Perhaps Severna Park qualified as the luckiest playoff team, then. In the 3A playoffs, the Falcons avoid Anne Arundel teams and, at least through Tuesday, seemed to benefit from it. Both Falcons teams whizzed through the early rounds, giving up a combined three goals through six games.
"With the teams we play during the regular season," Severna Park boys' coach Robert Thomas said, "we're always going to be prepared for anybody in the playoffs."
From Fire to Frying Pan
Severn's Jamal Jones and Deon Peters finished the football season exhausted, bruised and beaten last Friday, eager for a nice break.
Basketball practice started two days later.
Peters and Jones -- seniors who've started in Severn's backcourt since they were freshmen -- enjoyed only two days of rest between seasons. Basketball coach Charles Duckett waited until after Severn's season-ending 48-14 win over St. Mary's on Friday to turn the two stars' focus to basketball. He's unwilling to wait any longer.
"Those guys are the heart and soul of the basketball team, too," Duckett said. "I know they're going to be a little tired, but that's okay. We've got to get started."
Though the first gameis not until Dec. 6, every private school basketball team has already started practice (public schools start Monday).
If Peters and Jones experience as much success in basketball as they did in football this year, Severn is in for a great season. Jones (the quarterback) and Peters (the running back) combined for more than 15 touchdowns and 2,000 rushing yards.
In basketball, Peters is an athletic guard capable of playing above the rim. Jones is a reliable, smart point guard. He feeds the entire offense.
"They're just athletes," Duckett said. "It doesn't matter what sport they're playing, because they always come up big."
Signed and Sealed
On Wednesday, Spalding held a joint celebration for four students signing letters of intent to play in college. As expected, three senior basketball players officially inked their futures: Lawrence Dixon signed with Holy Cross, Justin Castleberry signed with Bucknell and Marquis Sullivan picked Loyola. All are fully academically qualified.
Also at Spalding, Eric Owens became the first football player in school history to sign with a Division I school, inking with South Carolina State.