Pat Barry became an assistant football coach at Chesapeake High School this season to share his experiences with kids and, in less than two weeks, they've already heard plenty of stories. They know about Barry's all-county senior season at Old Mill, about his almost complete lack of academic effort in college and about his stint with the Washington Redskins.
"I'm trying to teach them some things from the stuff I've done, from the mistakes I've made," Barry said, "and I've done a lot of crazy things."
Perhaps at the top of his list of athletic accomplishments was his experience with the Redskins when the team hired replacement players during the 1987 strike. He spent six weeks with the team and played in one game on the defensive line.
A 315-pound defensive end, Barry was playing semipro football when the Redskins called. He could bench 475 pounds and had stellar hand-eye coordination from years as a baseball player.
"You never imagined that your life would turn out like that, playing with the Redskins," said Barry, who will coach Chesapeake's offensive and defensive lines. "It was like heaven. You're getting fed. You're getting your laundry done. Life was great."
Said Chesapeake Coach Jim Simms: "He tells that story to the kids, and their eyes just light up. It's amazing."
Familiar Foes Realigned
Severna Park Coach Gary Lam walked over to River Hill Coach Brian Song after their girls' soccer teams played to a 1-1 tie in a scrimmage on Saturday, shook Song's hand and smiled.
"See you in November," Lam said.
"Hopefully," Song said.
The coaches were referring to the month of the Maryland 3A East Region tournament -- a tournament that both teams expect to win.
For the past two years, the two teams haven't had to worry about each other. River Hill's Hawks played against teams from Prince George's and Howard counties in the 3A East Region tournament; Severna Park's Falcons were grouped with teams from Anne Arundel and Southern Maryland in the 3A South Region.
But the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association has reclassified and realigned the state's 186 public high schools for the next two school years. Severna Park and River Hill are in the same region for the first time since the Falcons posted a 2-1 victory over the Hawks in the 3A East Region final in 2002. Severna Park defeated River Hill in penalty kicks in the 3A state semifinals in 2003.
"I think having both of us in the same region only makes it harder to get to the state tournament," Lam said. "Every time we play them, it's a tough game."
The new 14-team 3A East Region is composed of teams from Howard, Anne Arundel, Harford and Wicomico counties.
The Falcons and Hawks return several of their top players from last year, with forwards Samantha Young and Emily Zido expected to lead Severna Park and midfielders Erica Suter and Erika Theisen driving the Hawks.
"There's a good chance we could see that team again," Song said, referring to the Falcons. "Just watching our scrimmage, you could see two good teams out there."
Too Many Heads
Football helmets remained the most precious commodity in county athletics during the first week of practices. A few days after Severn's football helmets arrived late, Broadneck, Arundel, North County and others also suffered helmet shortages.
Because they had more would-be players than they had helmets, Broadneck (145 players out), Arundel (150) and North County (125) had to scramble during the first week of practice. North County borrowed 20 helmets from South River. Broadneck cut some players. Arundel started a fundraiser to buy more helmets.
"You can't play football without a helmet, so that's a pretty big problem," North County Coach Gary Liddick said. "To be honest, we were caught a little off guard. We never thought 100 helmets wouldn't be enough, but our turnout surprised us."
Broadneck and Arundel are used to the higher numbers, but that didn't make the problem easier to resolve. At Arundel, Coach Chuck Markiewicz decided he'd rather find more helmets than cut players who have been lifting weights this summer.
"It's just not fair to cut a kid because you can't find a helmet for him, not when the kid's been in the weight room with you all summer," Markiewicz said. "We decided we'd do what it took to get the equipment."