A large measure of quickness and a smattering of large players were the main ingredients in Coach Neil Callahan's recipe for football success at Meade but the team's Anne Arundel County opponents may be served something new this season.
The defending county Class AA tilist (8-2) lineup will mix sizeable but slower offensive lines with numerous quick backs. And in replacing quickness with size as his team's dominant force, Callahan hopes to improve on last season, when Arundel kept Meade from the playoffs with a 16-6 win in the final regular season game.
"We're hoping to be one of the better teams around," Callahan said. "We've got seven or eight kids around 220 (pounds), and we have a lot of speed in the backfield."
Few teams will dispute that. Seniors Terry Evans and Vernon Carter combined for 1,400 yards rushing last season and will be joined in the backfield by quarterback Dave Johnson.
Six-foot, 215-pound Gary Fontenot will anchor a formidable defensive line, with 5-10, 185-pound John Coffee heading the linebacker corps.
Annapolis (5-5) might not swallow what Meade offers. With 24 returning lettermen, Coach Al Laramore will field a talented and deep squad.A trio of big linebackers plus a defensive line with returning starters Bill Decker (6-4, 240) and Delwin Brown (6-3, 185) will make running yardage scarce for foes. Strong-armed quarterback Craig Wilson could persuade Laramore to open up the offense.
Severna Park (2-8) could surprise. All-county running back Jeff Sanders (1,200 yards) returns with fullback Brian Kirchoff (643 yards) for a muscular running attack. Defensively, tackles Doug Bassford (6-0, 215) and Tom Kaeler (6-1, 255) lead Severna.
Old Mill (7-3) and Glen Burnie (6-4) have glaring weaknesses. Old Mill will rely on speed but probably will not outrun its lack of size and depth. Senior quarterback Pete Leonard will get the opportunity, but probably not the time, to throw more while most of the offensive will rest with running backs Sam Goddard and Steve Dorsey. o
Losing 22 seniors, including 1,300-yard gainer Tyron Spikes, Glen Burnie will be pressed for victories. Quarterback Kurt Gavin will get the chance to crank up his arm in this rebuilding season.
In the A league, three-year defending champion Arundel (11-0) will return only five players and may lose its stranglehold on the conference.
Quarterback Mike Coyle is one reason Arundel will remain in the race. The senior threw 15 touchdown passes last season while guiding Arundel to the state final, where Seneca Valley triumphed, 13-0. Coyle will have standout Mike Sullivan back at left end.
South River (7-3) returns four all-Country performers -- middle guard Al Argent, quarterback Brian Glenn, offensive guard Rick Briars and end Mike Miller.
Brooklyn Park (5-5) may improve slightly, but Southern (3-7) and Andover (3-7) will need outstanding performances from newcomers to break .500 Chespeake (1-9) returns six players on defense, and the experience should add several wins. Northeast (1-9) will be scraping for wins.
After only one week of practice, Wide Lake Coach Doug Duvall offered a succinct assessment of his team: "They're awesome."
With half of his starters returning, Duvall has reason to be optimistic in his quest for the Howard County crown. Mike Bidum (6-1, 209) and Hank Berger (6-0, 198) anchor both lines in their fourth starting year.
John Hamilton and Scott Starnes are battling for the quarterback job. Kicker Dave Bottimore returns for Wilde Lake (6-4) and will start at tight end.
Centennial (5-5) should make its best shot at the league title after losing only six starters.
Defensive backs Jim Bryan and Bernard Baker, who doubles as a wide receiver, will stand out in a staunch defense. Running back Greg Brouse will follow 6-1, 200-pound lineman Doug Shank much of the time.
Defending conference champion Glenelg (8-2) graduated 28 players but returns seven starters in an uphill fight to retain its title. The wishbone offense will be run by quarterback Bill Eckard, with help from backs Roger Blackwell and Ross Jackson. Blackwell is also set at cornerback with 6-foot, 215-pound Steve Golden.
Atholton (8-2) and Oakland Mills (5-5) return only a few starters. Howard (4-6) has added enough quality players to ensure a .500 finish. Mount Hebron (3-7) and Hammond (1-9) will struggle.
The perennially tough Southern Maryland Athletic Conference again looms as a prognosticator's graveyard. Defending champion Thomas Stone (10-0), McDonough (8-2) and Lackey (7-3) are talented enough to win league honors.
McDonald, however, has experience to meld with its talent. Fourteen returning starters should put the Eagles at the top of the conference. Jamie Fennell, Bucky Humbert, Jimmy Grant and Mike Mudd are back on the offensive line.
Six-foot-three Chuck Mays and Ricky Brawner (six touchdown catches in 1979) gives McDonough two outstanding receivers. Brawner also was an all-SMAC choice at cornerback.
Thomas Stone returns three all-SMAC linebackers along with linemen Eddie Martin (6-3, 260) and Mike Gerzog (6-3, 230). Defensive back Mo Wade also returns to possibly the strongest defense in the conference.
Lackey will need rapid development from many players to stay competitive. All-conference kicker Joey Prebble will find little rest while starting at quarterback and defensive end.
Chopticon (4-6), La Plata (6-4) and Leonardtown (5-5) lack experience to challenge for the title but should hover near .500 Great Mills (4-6) appears headed for a building year, While (4-6) appears headed for a building year, while Calvert (3-7) and Northern (1-8) should show progress.