Strittmatters are one major ingredient in second-ranked Springbrook's recipe for success. The trio of talented brothers has helped the Blue Devils to the area's longest current winning streak of 20 games and 35 victories in their last 39 football games.
"I've had three (Strittmatter) brothers in four years and we've won a few games so I imagine they have something to do with that," said Springbrook Coach Bob Milloy. "And I have another Strittmatter, who is going to really be something, coming up in jayvee."
Most Montgomery County football followers agree that senior Mike Strittmatter, 6-foot-1, 180-pound all-met safety-receiver, has been most responsible for the Blue Devil's dream teams (Maryland State Aa crown and 12-0 last year and 7-0 so far this year).
Brother Ricky, a senior also (he skipped fifth grade), starts both ways at end, while the youngest Strittmatter, Johnny, a sophomore, would probably be a starting cornerback on the varisity, but his coaches encouraged him to play quarterback on jayvee instead. The oldest Strittmatter, Robbie, started at receiver and cornerback in the '76 and '77 seasons and now attends Maryland.
"All the brothers can play," said Milloy, sounding more like a proud father than a coach. "Maybe, for the family angle, it would have been nice to have Johnny on the varisty. I think he could have possibly started some games but we thought it might be better for him to play full time on the jayvee for the experience. He is going to be some quarterback. He's 5-11, about 155 pounds and is a very good athlete. He has had some great games; the jayvee is 4-1.
"We had a great team last year. Mike had a great year, statistically, and we won the title," said Milloy."This year, we lost a lot of people but I'm not surprised we're undefeated. On defense, we just keep Mike in the middle of the field and no one is going to break a long one against us. On defense, we don't throw that much but the few we've thrown, Mike has gone and got them. wHe either outjumps the defender or tips it to himself. He always gets the ball."
Despite being double-teamed or playing the role of a decoy much of the time, Strittmatter has 16 catches for 341 yards and four touchdowns. He has intercepted four passes, returning one for a touchdown. He even took on punting duties temporarily a few weeks ago, and compiled a 35-yard average on 10 attempts.
"I'm not worried about my stats," said Strittmatter, who has received dozens of college offers. "We're still winning and that's all that matters. At the beginning of the year, I dropped a few and felt a bit of pressure. Then, I just decided to relax and go out and do the best I could."
Ricky, who had a broken ankle last year and saw action only on the special teams in the playoffs, tries his best to help Mike handle the pressure.
"I'm one of his biggest fans. No jealousy here," said 6-1, 175-pound definsive end. "Mike has helped me out on the field. When teams try to intimidate him, it makes me mad. I want to go out and play harder. When Mike has a good game, I feel good, too."
In Springbrook's 16-7 victory over arch rival Churchill last week, Mike made a 25-yard punt return that could be considered for inclusion in a highlight training film. Fielding the ball under heavy pressure, Strittmatter shook off tackles by 10 players before he was finally tackled by the 11th defender.
"Amazing," said Milloy. "I've never seen anything like it before. Mike is so deceptive. He goes limp-legged when hit, dodges tacklers and puts on the burst of speed when he has too. He's the best athlete I've seen."
Mike said he was double-teamed every play in the Churchill game. Even when it was clearly a running play, he said two Bulldog defenders "dogged" him each play. He did'nt catch a pass.
"I had caught a pass in 24 straight games before that one," he said.
"Our whole family is into Springbrook football," Mike said. My stepmother works with the booster clubs, my father brings all his friends to the games and, of course, all four brothers are there. I guess father has a time trying to keep track of us on their field."
With the defensive pressure on him, Strittmatter knows he won't come close to duplicating his superb feats of the '79 season (nine interceptions, eight touchdowns on receptions) but he hopes for another state title.
"I haven't lost a game since Whitman killed us in my sophomore year," he said. "I remember that one well. Well, I want to remember going out a winner. That means going 12-0 and winning it all. We can do it."