Summer Project 2016 . . .
On this page I posted stories about Public, Catholic and Inter-Ac athletes who advanced
to the NFL/NBA/MLB. Also posted are links to pages that detail their pro careers.
The daily choices were random. Generally, these stories were written about Philadelphia
high school athletes who graduated from the late 1970s through early 2010s.
We hope you enjoyed this project. Thanks!
-- Ted Silary firstname.lastname@example.org
Return to TedSilary.com Home Page
PROJECT HAS BEEN COMPLETED
Matt Ryan, Penn Charter, Class of 2003
(This was written before Matt's final season at Boston College)
MATT RYAN UPHOLDS A FAMILY TRADITION
Being the star quarterback is the norm
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
A TIP for those inclined to think oddball items can generate cash on eBay.
Go to the 14th Street beach in North Wildwood, N.J., scoop a bunch of sand into a jar, then advertise the item sometime this fall with the following notation: Matt Ryan Threw Footballs on This!
Or, if you're someone with patience, hold off for several years and perhaps collect big bucks.
Matt Ryan, pride of the William Penn Charter School, is primed for his senior season at quarterback for Boston College (it kicks off Saturday with a game on Channel 6 against Wake Forest) and NFL scouts, many of whom like him as an upper-rounds pick, according to mock drafts, are taking meticulous notes.
Credentials? Well, the 6-5, 220-pound Ryan, 14-4 in career starts and coming off a 2,942-yard, 15-touchdown season, has been named the ACC's Preseason Player of the Year, and he also finds himself on the list of candidates for the Manning Award (top college QB).
North Wildwood comes into the picture because that's where Ryan's family, based in Exton, Chester County, has a vacation home, and where Matt this summer was able to spend 2 weeks relaxing.
But along with suntan oil, he always headed beachward with a football.
"I had lots of fun," he said, "just throwing the ball around with my brothers and cousins. I take classes all year, so it was nice to get away for a little to spend time with family and friends.
"The neatest part, I'd say, was seeing how much my younger brother has improved. His arm is much stronger. "
You got it. John Ryan, a junior at PC, is also a quarterback. And that's not exactly a surprise to anyone familiar with the family. These guys peg pigskins. It's what they do. And not just this generation.
Mike Ryan, the older brother, played QB for Malvern Prep and then briefly at Widener. And then there's the uncle, John Loughery. For him, there's double the attachment to Matt, since he also played QB for Penn Charter (class of 1978) and Boston College.
In fact, he was BC's QB immediately preceding DF, Doug Flutie.
Loughery coached all three Ryan brothers with the nationally famous Little Quakers weight-ball team. And when Matt reached PC, he was guided by head coach Brian McCloskey, a star QB at PC and Ursinus, and assistant Mike Samuel, another former PC signal-calling legend who went on to steer Wisconsin to a Rose Bowl victory.
Now, BC's first-year boss is Jeff Jagodzinski, fresh off a 1-year stint guiding Brett Favre as the Green Bay Packers' offensive coordinator.
Talk about proper guidance.
"From the time I started playing, I've always been around people who knew so much about my position," Ryan said. "Pretty darn lucky. They not only know the game, but how to teach it. The importance of that can't be overlooked. I thank them all. "
Jagodzinski, by wintertime, could deserve a hug or three. Not only does he favor a passing attack, but one with long-ball leanings.
Ch-ch-ch-ching! Hear the yardage adding up?
"To be able throw it downfield, that's what any quarterback wants," Ryan said, laughing.
Plus, think of the possible long-range benefits.
"Making the NFL is the ultimate, and that has been a goal of mine for a long time," Ryan said. "To get there, though, I'll need a great college season. That's why I'm putting [pro] thoughts out of my head, so I can put my concentration where it needs to be: right here.
"We have a lot of returnees and people are saying some really nice things about our possibilities. We all want to make the most of this season. "
Ask Mike Ryan Sr. (his wife, Bernie, is Loughery's sister; their daughter, who's now Kate Magee, played volleyball at Bishop Shanahan) about Matt and he will tell you flat out: If he thought Matt were going to go anywhere long range in sports, his projection was basketball.
(Matt, by the way, agrees. For the record, he was also a quality baseball player. )
He was always tall for his age, developed early polish and truly loved the sport. But then . . .
"At quarterback," his dad said, "he just got good really fast. From sophomore to junior year [at PC], he started showing such command. "
He added: "He always had the great coaching, from 'Lock' [Loughery] to Brian McCloskey to Mike Samuel . . . The timing was perfect with Mike because he was just coming off his success with Wisconsin. He has uncanny ability to teach that position. He squeezes everything out of his guys. And Lock, he has always been an integral part of everything. "
Matt Sr. then told a story concerning his son's recruitment, how a visit to Iowa went great and how he expected Matt to commit. A visit to BC was next. Loughery accompanied the pair, holding his breath all the while.
"The plan was, even if Matt liked BC, I was going to send him out to Iowa another time for one last comparison," his dad said. "We're driving back and Matt says, 'I don't think I need to go back to Iowa. I'm sold on BC. '
"Lock was so happy, I thought he was going to put his roof through the head of the car. Even now he always says, 'If ever a day went right . . . ' "
McCloskey recalls Ryan being "passionate, poised, unselfish and intelligent. "
He remembered a game when he called for a pass on third-and-3, then saw Ryan audible to a straight-ahead give. It gained 10 yards.
As Ryan came to the sideline, McCloskey said with a laugh: "I knew that play was there. I just wanted to see if you knew. "
Said McCloskey: "Even back then if Matt thought something he saw was better than what I gave him, he didn't hesitate. We gave him that option, willingly. Know what? He didn't miss very often. "
In Ryan's senior season, his fellow co-captain was Tony McDevitt, now a lacrosse star at Duke.
"Two special kids! " McCloskey gushed. "You can still see and hear them in our team now. They passed on things that others have passed on since then. It's amazing what those two gave us. As coaches, just being around players and people like them keeps you motivated. "
In college, Ryan, who earned a communications degree in May (focus on advertising; he's now taking graduate classes), has paid strong attention to the complexities of the game via intense film study.
He turned in special performances pretty much throughout last season, which is why this comment from his father might come off as rather curious: "You kind of wonder what would have happened with him whole. "
Now it can be told. (Well, it leaked out a little last season, but Ryan and his teammates and coaches did everything to downplay. )
In game No. 6, a 22-3 win over Virginia Tech, Ryan suffered a broken fifth metatarsal (bone leading to the little toe) in his left foot and practiced not at all thereafter.
He wore a boot all day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, even while walking around campus, and eased gingerly through Thursday throwing sessions.
"It was kept pretty quiet," Ryan said. "I got good at telling the writers, 'I'm not commenting on injuries or my health. ' My teammates kidded around with me some, but mostly they went easy. No jealousy. I have great teammates. Now the hope is to go healthy through this season, of course. "
Through the summer, Ryan has granted numerous interviews and it has even been possible to spot him on magazine covers.
"It's flattering when people want to talk to you," he said. "I know it's partially because of what you've done in the past, but more so, I feel, it's because you're part of a team that's expected to do nice things. I'm excited for this team. So many good players and great guys. Can't wait to get started. "
Like sand on the eBay site . . . *
Ibraheim Campbell, Chestnut Hill Academy, Class of 2010
CHA'S CAMPBELL COMPETITIVE WITH FOES, AND
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
ONCE HE GETS his fill of football, Ibraheim Campbell
should take up poker.
He's skilled at not tipping his hand.
The buzz around Chestnut Hill Academy is that Campbell, a 6-foot, 195-pound senior who stars at tailback and defensive back (corner or safety, depending), is favoring Stanford for his college destination.
Mum's the word, baby.
"No word yet. Not right now," he said. "I'm down to a top four of Stanford, Vanderbilt, Northwestern and Boston College and I'm going to be taking an official visit to BC in a few weeks. I should be ready to decide a couple days after that.
"I have good relationships with the coaching staffs at all those schools. I've been keeping in touch with a lot of their players, too, mostly through Facebook. Nobody says anything negative. "
Could distance from home surface as a factor?
"Well, when you're in Division 1 football, you don't get to go home too often no matter where you are. I've seen that with Rashad and he's only 3, 4 hours away," Campbell said. "So I don't think [geography] will matter. What am I looking for? Just the best fit. The place where I know I'll fit. "
Campbell often talks like that. He tends to come from the just-the-facts-ma'am school of expressing his thoughts and, likewise, a no-frills approach has certainly served him well on the football field.
There is one subject that will get his motor running, however, and that's the friendly rivalry he maintains with the aforementioned Rashad, a brother and CHA product (class of 2008) who is now becoming a force in Cornell's defensive backfield (team-high 12 solo tackles).
"I have always tried to be better than Rashad, and it has led me to success," Ibraheim said yesterday, shortly before the start of practice while sitting in a room off the main part of the cafeteria. "I'm sure he's aware I'm trying to be better than him. "
Now we're getting somewhere. Keep talking.
"We always argue about how I'm stronger and faster," Ibraheim said, laughing. "Even when my test results in the bench press or 40 are better than his, he'll still find some way to say his are better.
"We haven't raced, or lifted together, in a while, though . . . I guess he can say that until we do it again. "
Ibraheim (e-bruh-heem) boasts quite the grid lineage on both sides of his family. Rashad finished his CHA career with 4,204 rushing yards overall and 3,200 in the two seasons that followed the Blue Devils' return to the Inter-Ac League. A brother on his mother's side, Aquil Stinson, starred at CHA (Class of '95) and Georgetown. A brother on his father's side, Malik Jones, played for Martin Luther King ('96) and Bloomsburg.
Ib or Ibs, for short, vaguely remembers watching Aquil play for Georgetown. What he most recalls are the nuggets of advice regarding preparation and dedication to team, schoolwork, etc. He also said Aquil's insistence that he slap together a highlight tape to distribute to colleges as early as possible wound up creating great opportunities.
Shadowing Rashad also proved to be golden.
"Rashad always set a great example for me," Ibraheim said. "From school to athletics, he always pushed me. I loved doing what he was doing, and stuck with it. "
So far for coach Rick Knox' 3-0 Blue Devils, Campbell has rushed 76 times for 512 yards and eight touchdowns behind the blocking of center Chris Howard, guards Colin Kelly and Brendan Spearing, tackles Will Emory and Matt Levin, ends Brendan Plunkett and Bobby Keyes and fullback Tom Devlin.
Such production should not surprise, considering Campbell last season hustled his way to 1,772 yards and 22 TDs.
But this probably will: He prefers defense.
"My first position with the Mount Airy Bantams was linebacker, and since then I've just always loved defense," he said. "I'm trying to get to the NFL, and I think I'd have a better shot as a safety.
"Most of the schools I talked to were surprised about my desire to play defense. It excited them, really. I guess they deal mostly with guys who say they want to play offense. "
As Campbell headed down a long hallway, filled with trophy cases, toward the cafeteria, he passed five wooden benches with one word inscribed on each - integrity, courage, loyalty, honesty, sportsmanship.
Quarterback Danny Gallagher, for one, would say all five of those words apply to Campbell. And more.
"He always leads by example," Gallagher offered. "From always going 110 percent through sprints in practice, to never missing an assignment during team drills, to fighting through cramps to score a go-ahead touchdown . . . Everyone looks to Ib for inspiration. "
In college, Campbell, who lives in Cheltenham, is thinking about pursuing a pre-med major with designs on becoming an orthopedic surgeon. He thrives in science and math, plus he admires the work done by Dr. Tony Salem, the Blue Devils' team doctor.
"He plays such a large part with our team," he said.
As those around the squad have noticed, Ibraheim Campbell is hardly a football head. Oh, he loves the sport, but it's not a 24/7 obsession.
"I don't sit there and watch ESPN all day," he said. "I'm more a fan of the sport than actual teams; that sums it up pretty well. "
So, when the TV's not on, what could we find him doing?
The response came accompanied by a sheepish smile, and was even slightly delivered in the form of a question.
"Homework?" he said.
Nothing wrong with that.
Jaelen Strong, West Catholic, Class of 2011
(Known as Strong-Rankin during high school)
STRONG-RANKIN A SLAM DUNK FOR WEST CATHOLIC
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
CONSIDERING THE bloodline, you'd think his sport would
Not only did Jaelen Strong-Rankin semi-shun hoops. As recently as 3 years ago, he believed he'd make his athletic bones in track.
But here is West Catholic, making a run at a hoped-for state championship, and here is Strong-Rankin, receiving sustained interest from Division I colleges (including an offer from Virginia Military Institute), and the sport involved is football.
If you ever meet Strong-Rankin, a 6-3, 195-pound senior wideout, please refrain from asking him, "How come you don't play basketball? "
When asked how often he has heard that question - hundreds of time? even thousands? - Strong-Rankin looked around the campus of Monsignor Bonner, site of yesterday's ch-ch-chilly practice in preparation for tonight's Class AA quarterfinal, 7 o'clock vs. Northern Lehigh at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown, drew a deep breath and said quite pleasantly, "Every day. "
No wonder. His late father, John Rankin, starred in roundball for West Catholic (class of 1985) and Drexel and even still holds the latter's school record for points in one game, with 44.
"Of course, my dad wanted me to play basketball," Strong-Rankin said. "I did play in summer leagues and in the eighth grade [for Ivy Leaf School], but I also played football when I was younger and . . . It just worked out this way. I ran indoor track here at West and that took away the basketball option.
"I played freshman football. Even though I didn't get on the field, except for special teams, it was fun and I became attached to it. "
Leukemia claimed John Rankin, a large and extremely popular guy, in April 2003. He'd served the Philadelphia police force as a detective in the Special Investigations Unit and, in Jack Morrison's wonderful Daily News obituary, boss Michael Chitwood said of him, "I loved the guy like he was my own brother. He's going to be greatly missed. "
Chitwood described Rankin as a tireless investigator.
"He had relentless drive to find out what happened and why," he said. "He would work 24 hours, go home, sleep an hour, and come back. "
Later, Villanova coach Jay Wright, a Drexel assistant in the 1986-87 season, called Rankin "one of my favorite players of all time - very good student, too!" and remembered fondly how he'd basically promised an upset victory over Navy and future NBA star David Robinson at the Palestra. Navy was ranked 18th at the time. Drexel won, 83-80.
As the Dragons ran up 33rd Street back to campus, Rankin kept saying to Wright, "I told you, coach. We got you. "
Jaelen's father and mother, Alexis Strong, did not live together as Jaelen grew up, but they maintained a "friendly, healthy relationship," as Jaelen put it, and Dad was always a big part of his life. He also had, and still does, a solid network of male role models, led by his grandfather, Alex Strong.
"As busy as my dad was, he always made time to see me. Even if it was just for 10 seconds to bring me McDonald's," Jaelen said, laughing. "Really, he got me pretty much anything I wanted. He was always taking me to Foot Locker for new Jordans. I'd wear them only three, four times and then get a new pair.
"I always heard people talking about how good my dad was at basketball. One time my grandmom [Jan Rankin] took me to see him play in a police league. I was like, 'He is good. ' "
Somehow, the fact that his dad attended West Catholic had never been relayed to Jaelen. After speaking with Lincoln Townsend, a coach in football and track, Jaelen decided to attend and his mother visited the school to check things out and speak with assorted administrators.
As Jaelen put it, "I didn't know my dad would be hanging on the wall. "
Explanation: On her visit, Alexis Strong saw John's plaque, complete with picture, on a wall outside the gym. Yes, he's enshrined in the school's athletic hall of fame.
"My mom told me to make sure to check it out," Jaelen said.
"I found it on my first day of school. Kinda shocked me. He had one of those high-top fades from the '80s. That made me laugh. Still does.
"My grandmom was so excited when she knew I'd be going to West. She brought me over some of his basketball tapes, and a picture he had with Charles Barkley, and a West Catholic jacket . . . "
Strong-Rankin, who won't turn 17 until next month, was only 5-10, 155, as a sophomore, and hardly ever saw action. He grew like crazy that off-season - "My knees were always hurting; my doctor said that was a good sign" - and became a starter last fall.
Strong-Rankin (26 catches, 635 yards, eight touchdowns) and Quran Kent (24-483-4), who recently earned coaches' first team All-Catholic honors for the third consecutive year, have become quite the pass-snagging tandem for quarterback Anthony Reid, who can also receive fireworks from rushers Brandon Hollomon and Joshua Mathis.
"In 10th grade, I looked up to my fellow wideout, Quran. Still do, really," Strong-Rankin said. "I'll still ask him, 'What do I do here? What do I do there? ' We push each other. We have that chemistry.
"If a play gets called for him in the huddle, I tell him, 'Go get it. ' And he does the same for me. And we always tell each other, 'You better score. ' "
Fluck responded with an immediate "absolutely" when it was suggested that Strong-Rankin, who lives near Thouron and Gorgas, in Mount Airy, intends to pursue graphic design or sports medicine, and is also hearing from Villanova, Eastern Michigan, Youngstown and Towson, possesses the most long-range potential on his team.
"In part because he's still so young and still growing," Fluck said. "But he also has that athleticism, that drive, that determination. Once he gets into a college atmosphere, he's going to explode.
"As a first-time starter, he spent last year adapting. He came into this one with the idea he'd show what he could do and earn a scholarship. "
Said Strong-Rankin: "My dad set a standard. I never really knew, as a youngster, whether I'd reach it, but I knew I'd come close. "
Then John Rankin passed.
"I decided I wanted to do better," Jaelen said. "I wanted to live up to his name even more. I was ready for that challenge of being a Rankin. "
Just with a ball of a different shape.
Corey Brown, Cardinal O'Hara, Class of 2010
O'HARA STAR BROWN CHOOSES OHIO STATE
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Brown, a star senior football player - rusher, receiver, d-back, returner, anything else you want? - at Cardinal O'Hara High, has made an oral commitment after spending a memorable weekend on campus.
The 6-1, 185-pound Brown rode to Ohio on Saturday with his mother and brother, Delene and Courtney Williams (star rusher for George Washington's 2004 Public League champs), and O'Hara junior quarterback Ryan Laughlin. Then the group sat at the 50-yard line, eight rows up, to watch the Buckeyes fall to Southern Cal, 18-15, in a game witnessed by 106,033.
The fun was only continuing as the game progressed.
"It was unbelievable," Brown said. "Just walking up to the stadium was cool. There was a bunch of us - possible recruits - with friends and family members. Everyone knew who we were. People were yelling my name. Wanting me to sign autographs.
"I don't know how many I signed, but even grown men were asking for 'em. "
Brown said his mother told Ohio State personnel that Corey had made an oral commitment just before the return trip began yesterday morning.
He said he confirmed things during a cell-phone call from the highway.
"This was my first time to Ohio State," said Brown, who now lives in Upper Darby but spent a chunk of his youth in Oxford Circle and was a pound-ball star in the city. "I didn't know what to expect. But with the way I was treated, and from what I saw, I kept thinking, 'It can't get much better than this. ' "
Brown's final five had also included West Virginia, Pitt, Rutgers and Miami.
"I was blessed to be wanted like this," he said. "It was getting so intense, though. It feels good to have the decision made, so now I can put full concentration into our season and my academics. "
Said O'Hara coach Danny Algeo: "Corey said he's comfortable and happy. "
Brown, for now, has no idea where he'll play at Ohio State.
"They said I can pick my position," he said. "I'm not sure which one [to try]. I'll see how things look when I get there."
Sean Colson, Franklin Learning Center, Class of 1992
COLSON MAKING MOST OF SECOND CHANCE
Receiving bad grades is one thing. Rarely venturing
into a classroom is another.
In the 1989-90 school year, Sean Colson was a sophomore at Franklin Learning Center and a backup guard on the basketball team.
"But I didn't do much work," he said. "I'd hang in the halls, or not come to school. I played around too much. Wasn't serious.
"At the end of the year, they said I had to leave. I got what I deserved."
Yesterday, guess who was one of the primary forces as FLC routed visiting West Philadelphia, 88-57, in a Public League game?
The 6-1 Colson shot 5-for-12 and 6-for-8 for 16 points and distributed 12 assists, proving once again that he is one of the city's top lead guards.
Each day, meanwhile, he continues to prove that he cares about academics.
"I'm not doing great in school," Colson said, "but I'm doing better than average."
Colson spent last school year at John Bartram, but never played basketball. He was inclined all summer to attend Simon Gratz, but changed his mind in the last few days of August and was permitted to re-enroll at FLC. However, he is a junior in his final season of eligibility because he repeated 10th grade last year at Bartram.
"I want to go to a prep school next year, one that takes fifth-year players, then go to a nice Division I college," Colson said. "I've been talking to a few coaches. I hope someone can help me out on this.
"Having that trouble at FLC got me to thinking. I didn't want to be one of those guys who plays good ball but has nowhere to go. My game's pretty good, people tell me. I just had to get the schoolwork part of it together."
Colson was the perfect addition for coach Pete Merlino. Senior Faron ''Meatball" Hand (25 points, eight rebounds) and junior Tyrone Weeks (8 points, 10 rebounds, 6 blocks) are monster inside players, Isaiah Russell (11 points) is an accomplished up-tempo small forward and Cliff Dunn (seven points) can knock wing jumpers.
"All summer," Colson said, "I was telling the talent scout people at the Sonny Hill League I was going to Gratz. But then I thought about it. Gratz had Contrell (Scott) and 'Reds' (Shawn Smith) already established at guard. No matter how good I played, I figured I wouldn't beat them out. With only having one year left (of eligibility), I wanted to be a starter.
"It's good to be back at FLC. The teachers like me, and I'm showing that I'm not the same kid as before. I'm doing my work now."
Colson's specialty is to push the ball downcourt, then make a quick, intelligent decision. Though he looks to pass first, he cannot be left unguarded.
"Our big men are so good, they have to be double-teamed," he said. ''Because of that, I don't even have to force shots to get my own points. The shots are just there."
West, apparently, is reeling emotionally from the loss of star guard Laurence Pembrook, who transferred last Friday to Overbrook. (He has been banned from practicing and playing, but a decision on his eligibility is expected today.) Only one player, guard Ernest Boone (10), scored in double figures for the Speedboys, who were doubled in score in each of the first two quarters (18-9, then 24-12).
Jahri Evans, Frankford, Class of 2001
(This was written in
2010, when Jahri returned to Frankford to be honored)
SAINTS' JAHRI EVANS RETURNS TO FRANKFORD TO RECEIVE AWARD
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
YEARS LATER, he's the same Jahri Evans.
Rules are not made to be broken, even when there's no chance of receiving detention.
Evans, Class of 2001 and an All-Pro guard for the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, returned to Frankford High at 9 o'clock yesterday morning to receive the Pioneer Achievement Award, which is bestowed upon graduates for distinguished leadership, achievement and service.
As the principal, Reginald Fisher, called the packed, energized auditorium to order from the podium at the front of the stage, he noted that some of the students were wearing caps, then gave the remove-'em order.
Also sporting a hat was a guy seated a shade behind to his right.
Zip. Off the lid came. Immediately.
"I know. Had to do it," Evans said, laughing. "All the principal needs is to see one kid not do it and then hear, 'Why should I take my hat off? Jahri didn't do it.'
"I went right back into form. No problem."
Accompanied by his mother, Katreen Hopkins, and six other family members, Evans dressed informally for the special occasion, which included organ music, selections by the school band, short speeches, introductions of past honorees, etc.
Evans wore the Kangol hat (modernized version of a jeff cap), which he said he loves and received a year ago from coach Mike Capriotti, because it sports a Frankford logo on the back.
"I even wear it when I hit the clubs," he quipped. "Everybody wants one."
What Frankford wants and needs, like every school, is many more young men such as Jahri Evans. And football has nothing to do with it.
Tyrell Martin, this year's top player and student, said he felt goosebumps while interacting with Evans, just as he did last fall while meeting Donovan McNabb after watching an Eagles game as his guest.
"Two great guys like this in one year. Amazing," Martin said. "I hope Jahri knows what it means to us to see him come back here today and be so great with all of us. It's an honor. There aren't enough examples of great men in the African-American community. We need this.
"Jahri did the right things. It always starts with separating yourself from the bad crowd."
Martin, a two-way back, is headed to Ursinus and Evans is helping with tuition as part of a scholarship program.
Capriotti, who coached him as a ninth-grader on the junior varsity, said Evans has picked up the cost for team awards and trips to camps "and helps us in many ways that no one ever hears about."
Evans has started the Jahri Evans Foundation, with the purpose of advancing education, providing relief to the poor, distressed and underprivileged, and instructing/training youth for the purpose of improving or developing their athletic capabilities. He is also backing such endeavors as football camps, bowling events, Amazing Race takeoffs, etc. (Visit www.jahrievans.com for complete info on his wide-ranging community activism.)
By now, Evans' story is familiar. How he shredded his knee playing pickup basketball before his senior season and never got onto the field. How he stayed around the team and became, as then-coach Tom Mullineaux told the audience, "the biggest manager a football team has ever had." How he continued to behave and work hard on his academics, achieving a high GPA and the necessary SAT score. How Bloomsburg decided to give him a chance. How he starred there and became the Saints' fourth-round pick in the 2006 draft. How he has started every game since.
"Jahri always had that sticktoitiveness," Mullineaux said before the assembly began. "He persevered. Hung in there.
"It's very depressing for a kid to miss his final year of high school football. Some kids would quit doing the right things. Not Jahri. He was always trying, trying, trying. It wasn't the football that got him to Bloomsburg. It was the academics."
In his remarks, Evans, who grew up on the 4500 block of North Hicks Street, near 15th and Wingohocking, in Nicetown, reminded the students, "Yeah, it starts here, but it really starts after you leave here. There's a whole, big, crazy world out there. Lots of trials and tribulations. It's how you respond to them."
Evans could not have been more generous with his time. His disposition could not have been sunnier. He met every autograph request. Posed for every last picture. Big-timed no one.
One guy who did not ask for a signature was history teacher Harry Palumbo.
"I already have it," he said. "I saved his test papers."
Well after the session ended, Evans was still in the auditorium, helping Capriotti with the presentation of painted game balls to the captains and other grid honorees.
Because he's still a young man, Evans was surprised upon finding out he'd been chosen to receive a Pioneer plaque, first awarded in '63. There have been one to four recipients every year since, though two per year had been the standard since '85.
Among yesterday's past award-winner attendees: the father-daughter team of Dr. Leon Johnston ('29 - yes, '29!) and Lila Johnston King ('63).
At times, Evans darn near hugged the plaque, which he said would receive a special spot among his treasures "because this is where it all began. This is the highest honor a Frankford grad can receive."
Because of his girth, Evans was never able to play pound ball. His first memory dates to his one JV season in the fall of '97.
"I wanted to be a tight end," he said. "Coach Cap had guys running five-and-outs. I ran mine, then Jeff Nagle - his brother, Jim, was the varsity quarterback that year - ran his."
He laughed. "Jeff wound up at tight end. I wound up on the line."
It alllll worked out.
Maalik Wayns, Roman Catholic, Class of 2009
WAYNS STEERS ROMAN TO WIN OVER
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
ALL’S WELL in Wayns’ World.
Really, how it could not be?
Not only is Maalik Wayns, a 6-1, 192-pound senior point guard at Roman Catholic High, considered the city’s top scholastic basketball player.
His name also can be found in lofty locations on national rankings lists and he is signed to play college ball for a program (Villanova) that pretty much owns the local spotlight.
Is there pressure? Of course. Does Wayns realize that some people this season will attend Roman’s games mostly (only?) because of his presence? He’s no dummy.
He also knows this: The best stars are those who keep evvvvvvverything in perspective.
In the midst of the holiday season, at an out-of-the-way college (Gwynedd-Mercy) 21 miles from Roman, an overflow crowd last night turned out to watch Wayns and the Cahillites battle North Catholic, the defending Catholic League champion, in a Red Division contest.
Playingwise, Wayns satisfied the fans by totaling 14 points, seven assists and five rebounds in a 58-55 win that wound up being hairy.
Though Roman led by 50-39 with 4:47 remaining, a partial stall did not produce the desired results. There were turnovers and missed shots at one end. At the other, among other things, Jaleel Mack buried a trio of treys.
His last, with 4.4 seconds remaining, moved North within 56-55. But on the inbound play, following a timeout at 3.8, the Falcons allowed Andre Horne to break free downcourt unattended and Kevin Regan, the football quarterback, hit him with a pass for an easy, buzzer-beating layup.
For those who paid attention, Wayns also provided assurance that, yes, he’s enjoying himself and that his head is not even close to basketball-sized.
Fourth quarter. Wayns got way ahead of the field. The chance to uncork a bring-the-house down dunk was there. He motored to the hoop. Left his feet and began to soar . . .
Oops. Clang. The ball slammed hard against the rim. Baskets are still 10 feet high. Not 9 1/2.
“I could tell as I jumped that it wasn’t gonna work,” Wayns said.
Luckily for Wayns, Roman maintained possession and there was a stoppage in play. As the house buzzed and he peeled toward the sideline opposite Roman’s bench, Maalik smiled broadly.
Other stars might have mumbled curse words under their breath. Might have done something – wiped supposedly sweaty hands on pants, for instance – to steer the fault someplace else. Not Maalik Wayns. Not the city’s newest megastar. He smiled.
“My AAU coach was busting on me,” he said. “Some family members, too. They were sitting right there. It was fun.”
He laughed. “I need another chance at a dunk, man. Next time I’ll dunk it. No doubt.”
Chris McNesby, Roman’s first-year coach, said Wayns has been quite the joy.
“Coming off a great summer, there was a lot of hype,” McNesby said. “For any young guy, all that stuff is hard. Sometimes I think people expect him to walk on water. All we tell him is, ‘You just have to be Maalik.’ ”
And that is?
“Point guard first, and leader,” McNesby said. “Everything else second.”
Sounds great to the target of those words.
“I don’t get caught up in the hype,” Wayns said. “I know getting tagged as the best player in the city brings things with it, but I’m just out here trying to get wins for my team. I don’t need to score 20 points, 30 points. I need wins.
“My family and friends keep me humble. I’m just a teenager [still 17, he won’t turn 18 until May] trying to have fun with my life.”
By his own count, Wayns figured five different Falcons took turns trying to guard him. From Woody Redding to Bob Makor to Mack to Mike Terry to Josh Stevens; no guarantee on the order. Oddly, he scored all of his points in the middle two quarters and did not even take a shot in the first.
Luckily, junior guard Rakeem Brookins is also quite the bright light, witness that he finished with 20 points and three assists and saved 12 of his markers for the fourth quarter. Included was an 8-for-8 performance at the line.
“When the ball’s in Rakeem’s hands, great things can happen,” Wayns said.
Mack’s second trey moved North, which received 15 points, seven boards and two blocks from 6-9 soph Rakeem Christmas, within 54-51 at 0:31. Redding’s steal led to two free throws for Terry, who hit the first at 24.6. Koron Reed (eight rebounds) engulfed the missed second shot and Wayns went to the line for a one-and-one at 19.2.
Though he failed (Roman was 12-for-12 at the stripe to that point), the ball bounced over the baseline and possession went to the Cahillites. Brookins nailed both halves of a double-bonus at 17.0, setting up the aforementioned end-game sequence.
“The game was ours,” Wayns said. “Like coach said, we just had to finish it off.”
Said McNesby: “We needed to be stronger with the ball. We made it scarier than it had to be. If we’d made them chase us better, we would have gotten layups.”
As it was, not without nervousness, Roman did get the win.
In Wayns’ World, fittingly, W’s are what matter most.
Mike Costanzo, Archbishop Carroll, Class of 2002
CARROLL ROUTS LA SALLE FOR TITLE
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Mike Costanzo played for the Phillies last
More accurate, he played in front of Phillies' scouts at Veterans Stadium as part of an invitation-only, predraft workout.
"It was fun. I think I played pretty well," Costanzo said. "I fielded, threw . . . I think they were really impressed with my arm. "
Fine, but let's get to the important stuff. Any homers?
"Close. Very close," he said, smiling. "I hit one to the warning track in right-center. I wish I'd hit this one down there. "
This one was the bomb Costanzo launched yesterday at La Salle University while leading Archbishop Carroll High past La Salle, 16-0, yes, 16-0, for its second consecutive Catholic League baseball championship, as well as its third in four years and fifth in seven.
The homer wasn't needed, seeing as how it didn't come until the second inning, when the Patriots were well on their frolicking way, thanks to a five-run first. But, man, was it ever majestic.
The two-run shot, which provided a 7-0 lead, had the trademark look of a major-league Big Fly. The ball sailed high and deep and had no trouble clearing the 10-foot fence at the right edge of centerfield.
And it wasn't Costanzo's only plate statement. In all, the senior third baseman, a lefthanded hitter bound for Coastal Carolina, went 4-for-4 with a walk, two doubles, the homer and five RBI.
The CL record for RBI in a title game is six by St. James' Art Gorga in 1965. The Bulldogs needed every one, too, as they edged Father Judge, 12-11. The winning-margin record was doubled from eight; Archbishop Ryan beat Carroll, 12-4, in '80, and Bishop Neumann beat Judge, 10-2, in '60. (In the final of a three-game series for the title in 1969, Cardinal Dougherty beat St. James, 15-1. ) The record for victory margin in a shutout was more than doubled; Judge beat Cardinal O'Hara, 7-0, in '76.
Somehow, we think Costanzo shed no tears about not being drafted. Also, it's not hard to imagine it'll happen down the line.
"This is unbelievable," he gushed. "There's nothing like winning a championship. We're always confident in championship games, since we're 5-0 [since '96]. We take no prisoners at championship time. Carroll's a dynasty. It's an unbelievable program. We're like the Yankees, everybody says. "
Actually, the Patriots' title-game streak is six. They also won in '91 after falling in their first four attempts ('90, '82, '80 and '73).
Costanzo finished the season with 54 RBI in 28 games. He hit .529 (46-for-87) with 10 doubles, two triples and 14 homers. He was 6-for-7 in Carroll's two playoff games with three doubles and a homer.
La Salle - and there's no other way to put it - offered one of the all-time stinkers. Counting two actual errors, a fly ball that should have been caught and a sinking liner that hit an outfielder's glove and went for a double, the Explorers gave Carroll seven first-inning outs.
The first error came with two outs and no runs in.
"When a team messes up," Costanzo said, "we try to jump on them the very next play. "
"We make that play and everything's different," La Salle coach Joe Parisi said.
In all, the Explorers committed five errors and several more times were guilty of mental/physical mistakes.
"I'm not angry. I'm disappointed," Parisi said. "The kids worked so hard to get here . . . If you get beat when you play well, you can walk away with your head high. I'm disappointed that we didn't give Carroll a better game, and that our kids will have to have this as a memory for the championship game. "
Joining Costanzo as hitting heroes were John Gardner (3-for-4, two doubles, homer, two RBI), Chris Cashman (two-run double), Dave Omlor (two-run double, three RBI) and pitcher Frank Gailey (3-for-5 with a double).
On the mound, Gailey posted a three-hitter with one walk and six strikeouts. The junior lefty faced just 24 batters.
"Coach hinted I'd pitch this one," said Gailey, who went the distance in the semifinal win over Ryan on Saturday. "He didn't tell me for sure until practice [Tuesday]. I wanted to start. And once I got out there, I did not want to come out. That's why I kept my concentration. I didn't want to give him any reason to come get me.
"I kept telling myself, 'It's baseball. Anything can happen. ' "
Said Costanzo: "I wanted the ball today, but I understood. I'm just so glad Frank Gailey's on our team. "
Erik Williams, John Bartram, Class of 1986
(This was written in
May 1999, when Erik returned to Bartram to be honored)
EMOTIONAL RETURN FOR ERIK WILLIAMS
NFL Star, Three Others Join Bartram's Wall
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
biggest and strongest sometimes show the softest side.
So it was yesterday at John Bartram High during an assembly that welcomed the school's fifth class of Wall of Fame inductees.
Erik Williams, hulking superstar tackle with the Dallas Cowboys and a 1986 graduate, concluded his acceptance speech by reading a poem, ``Believe in Yourself,'' that was authored by a fraternity brother at Central State University, in Wilberforce, Ohio.
But it was what happened shortly after Williams began talking that most affected the students.
Williams got out the words, ``Through dedication and hard work, I was able to fulfill a lifelong dream . . . '' and then could get out no more. He was too busy sobbing and gently heaving and dabbing his eyes with a hanky.
Moved and surprised, the students clapped and cheered and one female yelled over the din, ``Ah, that's OK! ''
Finally collecting himself, Williams continued, ``I get a little emotional sometimes.''
``I guess you don't know what's inside you until it bubbles out,'' said Erik's mother, Alkay Williams.
Also inducted were Agnes Stegmuller, Alice Strine ('56) and Dr. Jack L. Weber ('61), all of whom spent most or all of their professional lives as teachers/administrators at Bartram. They, too, were made to feel special, but Williams was the obvious headliner.
He was the only inductee to arrive in a 27-foot limo. The only inductee whose speech was preceded by a five-minute, blockin'-everybody video that was shown on a large-screen TV. The only inductee to be swamped for autographs. The only inductee carrying a wooden box filled with three Super Bowl rings.
Williams noted during his speech that he'd brought along the rings. ``Later,'' he said, ``you can look at them, touch them, do whatever you want with them . . . Just don't take them. ''
Williams was accompanied to Bartram by his mother, youngest brother Cameron and nephew George.
While mingling with other honorees and staff members in the library, before everyone moved to the auditorium, Williams talked about growing up on the 1600 block of South Wilton Street (near 52nd and Woodland). He talked about the heavy, yet fair, demands made by his first Bartram coach, the late Frank Conway.
``Coach Conway was one of those aggressive guys,'' he said. ``He could put fear in your eyes. ''
And how he was employed in the summer by his second coach, Tom Bazis.
``We were rehabbing an abandoned building,'' he said. ``We were tearing down walls, breaking bricks. Man, we were doing every type of construction you can think of. I knew one thing: I didn't want to do that the rest of my life. ' ''
And he remains overwhelmed by his good fortune.
``Every time I run out on the field, I still get goosebumps,'' he said.
And how he views his off-field problems.
``If you live long enough,'' he said, ``you're going to have some problems whether you're in or out of the limelight. The things that have happened to me, they happen to everyday people. That's what I consider myself, an everyday person. Sometimes I've been naive. Life is a learning process. ''
Ron Corson, formerly a Bartram football assistant, was among those on hand to congratulate Williams. As Corson walked down the hallway toward the library, Mrs. Williams recognized him and said quickly to Erik, `Look, here comes Mr. Corson! ' ''
Said Corson: ``People don't know how far Erik has come. When he was in ninth grade, he couldn't get down in a stance. ''
Williams was excited to hear that the Daily News-Eagles City All-Star Football Game is to be played for the 25th time on May 15.
``I can remember taking that All-Star Game personal,'' he said. ``We had chips on our shoulder because it always seemed like the Catholic schools were made out to have the best players. I played defense that game. I can remember going up against Gary Thompson, of Dougherty. '' He smiled. ``I can remember saying a couple of things to him that weren't too nice.
``That was a great game. I didn't play that well, though, honestly. ''
Mrs. Williams said it was nice that Bartram was remembering someone ``who walked out these doors and went on to some big accomplishments - thanks be to God. I know it means a lot to Erik.
``When Erik was coming up, he loved football and poured his heart and soul into it. He motivated himself. When someone is that dedicated to something, you never know what can happen. ''
Curtis "Boonah" Brinkley, West Catholic, Class of 2003
BRINKLEY'S INCREDIBLE FEATS
Burrs' back sets 2 records, scores 5 TDs
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
WAS a 2-for-1 deal at The Football Record Store and, hey, who doesn't love a
Thanks to Curtis "Boonah" Brinkley, a 5-10, 190-pound senior at West Catholic High, two of Philadelphia's high school rushing icons have been forced to relinquish cherished standards.
With everyone he holds near and dear looking on Saturday at Frankford's stadium, and with many of those supporters wearing replicas of his No. 1 jersey, Brinkley first toppled Eddie Gaskins (also in attendance) and then took care of Lawrence Reid (now living in California).
Brinkley sped, juked, spun and even bulled for 399 yards and five touchdowns on 30 carries as West rolled to a 41-13 Catholic Blue victory over North Catholic.
"It's funny," Brinkley said. "I was sitting in my tub [Friday] night and I had stars in my eyes. "
He meant that literally, meaning the nervous anticipation had gotten to him and was making him feel kind of faint. "But I can see clearly now," he added, smiling.
He meant that figuratively. As in past Gaskins. And past Reid.
Gaskins, a 1998 Frankford grad and the Daily News' choice for Public League Player of the 1990s, finished his career with 6,122 yards. Reid, a 1976 Cardinal Dougherty grad and our choice for Catholic League Player of the 1970s, in 1975 ran for a city-league's record 379 yards (and five TDs; 39 carries) in a 41-41 tie vs. Bishop Egan.
In the last week, Gaskins, as gracious as one could imagine, met with Brinkley at a West practice and spoke with him several times, in a mentoring capacity, via cell phone. They will continue to speak, each said.
Gaskins and his mother, Kathy, who was wearing Eddie's high school jacket, arrived at Frankford early in the second quarter. Brinkley already had two TDs and 122 yards.
West's next series produced 33 more yards and another TD for Brinkley. It also caused Gaskins to appear on the Burrs' sideline.
When Tom Fontaine's end-zone interception returned the ball to West 29 seconds before intermission, Brinkley needed 16 yards to reach 6,123 and ease past Gaskins' city-league's mark of 6,122. He ran for 6 yards, then for 9 to tie the mark.
Coach Brian Fluck, wanting to have the deed done as early as possible, called time at 0:05 and ordered an off-tackle run to the right. Brinkley, who knew what was going on, signaled to the crowd to make noise.
Brinkley first headed in the assigned direction and then, as he's wont to do, cut back against the grain a shade downfield. He was tackled 19 yards later by North, and then nearly tackled again by teammates and assorted well-wishers.
Balloons were released. Banners were flashed; part of one of them read "6,123 and counting. " Brinkley's father, Curtis Sr., burst into tears as he hugged his son. Gaskins and Brinkley also embraced. The ball wound up with Brinkley's grandmother, Marge Cason, who's as vocally supportive as they come.
She also can be frisky. After her grandson was limited to 1 yard on his first carry of the day, she yelled, "Can we have some blocking out there? "
A short time earlier, as the Falcons' players and coaches ran toward their bench, a fan, obviously aware of the record assault about to come, hollered to coach Tim Quinn, "Not today! Right, coach?! "
There was no stopping Brinkley, whose TD runs covered 32, 40, 17, 80 and 7 yards. On the 40-yarder, he began up the middle and then did multiple, bounce-off-people pirouettes to his left.
"SportsCenter" needs to get the videotape. Coaches at prominent Division I programs have previous tapes. Brinkley has been offered several scholarships and is trying to become academically qualified.
West's line included center Thomas Davis, guards Frank Pirotta and Fran Enright, tackles Robert Grant and Matt DeMarco and ends Derrell Hand (tight) and John Maddox (split). The others on offense were quarterback Will Burke (he accounted for the sixth TD with a 36-yard pass to Evan Polk), fullback David Fitzgerald and slotback Polk.
The 270-pound Fitzgerald, as the lead blocker out of the I, was a one-man wrecking crew in his second start at the position.
"Coach was saying all year we needed somebody to step up at fullback," Fitzgerald said. "All I needed to do was make my blocks; me and the O-line. Curt's a phenomenal back. He does the rest. Curt's a humble guy. All he does is ask us to block for him. And then he gives us the credit. "
After Brinkley raced 80 yards for a score with 7:50 left in the third quarter, raising his yardage total to 272, Fluck decided to let him take a shot at Reid's mark.
"Might as well get it," he said. "Might as well get two records done. [Quinn] was OK with it. In the same situation, he said, he would have gone for it, too. "
Quinn indeed understood: "We don't need anyone taking pity on us. Our kids have to learn. You play for four quarters. "
Brinkley's total stood at 319 when West took over on its 20 with 7:20 left. Brinkley ran on every play of the drive, collecting 13, 15, 11, 6, 7, 4, 8, 9 and 7 yards for a TD at 2:21. The game record came on the 8-yarder, a run to his right.
As the last drive ended, Gaskins quipped, "Now that's how you feed a guy the ball. "
Asked for his overall impressions of Brinkley, Gaskins said, "Everything I saw impressed me. I haven't seen anybody run like that since Paul Northern [2,154 yards for Bartram in '97]. He's got moves. Crazy moves. I wish him all the best, on and off the field. I wish the world for him. "
Nearby, Brinkley's family and friends from the Abbottsford Homes, in East Falls, were gathered on various parts of the field. Many were recording the scene with cameras, still and video.
"This is hitting me," Brinkley said.
"This was history. When you do that, your people are supposed to enjoy it.
"I'm really tired. This was work. But my linemen were so amped, they got me going. They felt it. That feeling came back to me." *
Rob Kurz, Penn Charter, Class of 2004
KURZ FOLLOWS SISTER ACT
Leads PC to win on kin's big day
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Rob Kurz has a message for Germantown
Academy's zany and quite vocal student basketball rooters: Your judgment is
pretty darn keen.
Kurz is a 6-9, 220-pound senior forward for Penn Charter and last night, early in the second quarter of a memory-making Inter-Ac League game played before a crowd sardined into almost every inch of GA's gym, he heard a chant he knew was coming as he prepared to shoot a free throw.
"Laura's better! . . . Laura's better. "
Laura Kurz is Rob's younger sister, by 18 months, and she plays for GA's girls' basketball team. She is also a Duke signee and yesterday afternoon, in a game at Springside, she surged past 2,000 career points.
"She's a great player. She might be better than I am," Rob said. "We mess around in the driveway and work out a lot together.
"I remember seeing her point total coming into the year and figuring she'd be breaking 2,000. What an accomplishment! I'm really happy for her. "
Well before the varsity game began, GA boys' coach Jim Fenerty grabbed the microphone and informed everyone of Laura's feat. Laura was in attendance, but she declined to stand up and bask in the adoration. Rob was not surprised.
"She's pretty shy," he said.
So is Rob, for the most part, but that character trait does not prevent him from taking charge, when necessary, on the court.
As PC, the defending champion, conquered the Patriots, who also figure to make a strong run for honors this season, 56-53, Kurz collected 18 points, six rebounds and six blocked shots.
His best moment came in the midway portion of the fourth quarter, when he scored six consecutive points - two field goals, two free throws - to stretch the Quakers' lead to 48-41. It wasn't easy thereafter, but PC did hold serve, so to speak.
So, what did Rob, himself a D-I signee (Notre Dame) and prolific career scorer (1,200 neighborhood), think of seeing his sister crack the 2,000 barrier?
Um, he wasn't there. He lives rather close to GA, and even attended there through the 2000-01 school year, and he headed home after school to rest for his game.
He heard the news, via cell phone, from his mother. His mom and dad, along with ND coach Mike Brey (the Fighting Irish are in town to play Villanova today), were in attendance last night.
"Coach Brey let me know he was coming," Kurz said. "This was the first time he's seen me this season. He saw me a lot last summer [on the AAU trail]. It didn't make for more pressure. You definitely don't want to have a bad game, though, in front of the guy who's going to be your college coach. "
Rob said he was warned by Laura his ears would be stinging.
"She told me the chants they were going to hit me with," he said, laughing. "It all comes with the territory. They were pretty funny. I had to keep from smiling a few times. "
Also starring for PC was point guard Sean Singletary (Virginia signee), who mixed 19 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, and dazzled the spectators with eye-popping moves. Zack Zeglinski went 3-for-5 on treys en route to 11 points.
GA's top contributors were junior forwards Ryan Ayers and Brian Grimes. Ayers, the son of 76ers coach Randy Ayers, shook off a slow start (three points at halftime) to finish with 22. Grimes had 17 points. Each claimed nine rebounds.
Ayers' third three-pointer moved GA within 51-48 with 1:03 left, but PC tallied five of the next seven points before Larry Sharp beat the buzzer with a trey of his own.
"We liked that they played man-to-man. We were hoping they would," Kurz said. "Sean was breaking them down and making nice passes to me. We start three guards, which makes us hard to match up with. Our zone offense has struggled a little this year.
"This is a big win, considering it gives us two wins over strong teams [also Malvern Prep] to start the league season. Hopefully, we'll be able to continue to have success."
Dominique Curry, George Washington, Class of 2005
WASHINGTON'S CURRY IN NO HURRY FOR FOOTBALL
SEASON TO END
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
The sport that made his family famous needs to show
Yes, Dominique Curry will still play basketball this winter for George Washington High. There's no telling when he'll first report for practice, though, and it's possible hoops will someday, maybe even soon, get pushed aside.
That's because Curry, a 6-3, 210-pound wideout and defensive end/outside linebacker, is rather impressive in football, and he's primed to help the Eagles make a run for a PIAA Class AAAA (large enrollment) state championship.
"I don't mind being late for basketball," Curry said, smiling. "We still have work to do. "
Curry was talking Saturday on the field at Charlie Martin Memorial Stadium after helping - more than a little, too - Washington down Northeast, 30-12, for the Public League championship. It was No. 8 for 20-year coach Ron Cohen.
As the District 12 rep, the Eagles will meet Easton at 7 p.m. Saturday, also at Northeast, in a state quarterfinal. (First, on Wednesday at 7 p.m. under portable lights at Washington will come the holiday bash with Archbishop Ryan. And, yes, that means three games in 8 days. )
Curry's father, Dominique Stephens, was a little-used frontcourt sub for Murrell Dobbins Tech. Then, as a classic late-bloomer, he helped North Carolina Central win the 1989 Division II national title and even earned all-tournament honors.
His aunt, Marilyn Stephens, starred at Simon Gratz (class of 1980), then merely collected 2,194 points and 1,519 rebounds in a Hall of Fame, jersey-retired career at Temple.
"My situation sometimes makes for pressure because there's a lot to live up to," Curry said. "People who know [about his family ties] expect me to be better than they were.
"But it also helps me because they know the game and give me great advice. I can count on them for support any time I need it. "
Pause. Smile. "And if I do decide to go with football, they won't even mind. They won't disown me. "
Curry's contributions included two touchdowns and three tackles (of six total) that went for 19 yards in losses.
His first score came on a 34-yard fumble return as Jelani Washington knocked the ball free from punter Chris Mountney, who decided to run after bobbling a snap, and Curry scooped it up on the fly.
"When we practice for special teams, the coaches always say, 'Make sure the ball is kicked before you release,' " he said. "I saw the ball rolling on the ground and when the punter tried to run, Jelani made a nice tackle from behind. The ball bounced right into my arms. Like a dream. "
On offense, he made three catches for 76 yards, and one went for a 47-yard touchdown. Chuck Hughes (8-for-14, 153 yards) also fired a 47-yard scoring bomb to 225-pound fullback Jerome Lewis, who got downfield surprisingly fast.
The Eagles' first score, a 77-yard run by Jerry Butler (15 carries, 115 yards), restored order after Jeremiah Pitt had enabled Northeast to strike first with a 36-yard interception return.
After Washington reeled off 30 consecutive points, Northeast scored a little-comfort TD in the waning moments on a pass from Cordia "Chops" Mosley (14-for-28, 120 yards) to star junior wideout Rockeed McCarter (nine catches, 89 yards).
In all, the Vikings' rushers and receivers 12 times suffered losses. Lineman Dave Gonser made four stops worth 22 yards.
Curry is hearing from Rutgers, Hofstra and Morgan State. He boasts a 3.1 grade-point average and has scored 830 on the SAT.
"My dad would never let me mess up. Nor my mom [Belinda Curry]," Dominique said. "Their thing is for me to get a good education. Sports just goes along with it.
"They give me such great support. My mom has seen every game I've played, in both sports, since JV on up. And today was the first game my dad missed all season. He was on the road [as a basketball assistant] with Cheyney.
"He gives me good pointers on football. And then, if we're still in the car, he gives me good pointers on basketball. "
To a degree, Curry said he's still trying to decide which sport to pursue in college.
"I like football the best. Because you can hit people," he said, smiling. "In basketball, you have to walk away. Not in football. You can punish people. Legally."
Kevin Jones, Cardinal O'Hara, Class of 2001
JONES TO PSU? JUST KIDDING
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Ten minutes had elapsed since the supposed starting
time for Kevin Jones' here's-my-decision press conference, and someone had
decided to fill the void.
Turning to a bunch of students in a second-floor conference room at Cardinal O'Hara High, TV sportscaster Garry Cobb asked, "So, where do you all think he's going? "
"Penn State!" was the group's reply.
Pause. As the laughter died down, "Delaware County Community!" one guy added.
As the laughter died down, all eyes shifted from that side of the wide, rectangular room to the other. In was walking Kevin Jones, star football player, the nation's best prospect in some folks' eyes, the absolute savior in others', accompanied by his parents, grandfathers and sister.
There would be another attempt at humor.
Jones walked in carrying a gym bag. Once he sat down, he said, "I've been going back and forth between Penn State and Virginia Tech, my two schools. "
He then sighed deeply, absorbed a reassuring pat on the back from his father, Tom, made note of the pressure and added, "Right now my decision is. . . "
He tossed a Penn State jersey onto the table.
"Not Penn State," he said. "My decision is Virginia Tech. "
Somewhere, Joe Paterno could have been knocked over with a feather. In the room there was some reaction, ranging from "mannnn" to "ooooooo," but mostly there was silence.
"This is the school I'll be attending next year," Jones added, pulling off his sweater to reveal a Michael Vick No. 7 Virginia Tech jersey. He also donned a VT baseball cap, complete with tag.
One second passed. Two seconds passed. Three seconds passed. Finally, everyone began applauding.
Much later, Jones said he pulled the jersey stunt because so many people in the O'Hara community had him pegged for the Nittany Lions.
"I just wanted to give them the joy of thinking they were right for a second," he said, smiling. "I know they all thought it was going to be Penn State. If I hadn't told everybody that I wasn't going to Tennessee, I would have brought that jersey with me, too. "
Tom Jones, O'Hara's strength coach and weight-room supervisor, knew Kevin had gone to school with both jerseys. He had even informed Penn State assistant Kenny Jackson of that fact early yesterday morning.
"That's how close it was," Tom said.
Coach George Stratts said that he, Kevin and Tom had had a half-hour, in-school discussion, where the various pros and cons of both schools were discussed one last time.
"All I emphasized was that Kevin should be making the choice for himself," Stratts said. "Not for his mom. Not for his dad. Not for anyone but himself. "
Said Tom: "I feel bad right now. If I knew Kevin was going to do that with the jerseys, I would have told him not to. You don't want to show up Penn State like that. I'm sure he didn't mean it like that, but. . .He's a kid. An 18-year-old kid. "
The 6-1, 208-pound Jones, who is also a big-time sprinter with world-class speed, is the leading career rusher in Catholic League history (5,728 yards) and ranks second in city annals behind 1998 Frankford grad Eddie Gaskins (6,122).
Slowed somewhat by ankle woes, Jones last fall was "limited" to 1,268 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. But he placed a wonderful exclamation point on his career by scoring four touchdowns (two on rushes, one apiece on a kickoff return and reception) and posting 196 all-purpose yards as the Lions stunned unbeaten St. Joseph's Prep, 35-10, to win the Catholic Red title.
The recruiting war was intense. Paterno went to Jones' Chester home last Wednesday. VT coach Frank Beamer went there Tuesday afternoon with two assistants. They were barely out the door when Jackson and fellow assistant Fran Ganter came rushing in to make one last in-person pitch for the Nittany Lions.
So, why did VT win? Why did PSU lose?
Kevin Jones did not say anything overly expansive. VT made him feel more comfortable. It seemed to be a better fit. Etc. He did mention that the training issue (his father is not a fan of the methods used at Penn State) was "part of the reason, but not a real big factor"; also, that playing in the Big East, as opposed to the Big Ten, should be slightly less taxing on his body.
(He also mentioned that VT has offered him the chance to wear Vick's No. 7 for real. Vick has left school early for the NFL. Jones is unsure whether he'll accept the offer. )
Greg Watson, Jones' backfield mate and good buddy, said Kevin held up remarkably well throughout the recruiting process.
"He was always calm," Watson said. "Other people were going crazy over it. Not him. Sometimes we'd be walking down the halls and I'd scream out, 'It's gonna be Penn State! ' Just to see how kids would react. It wouldn't even phase Kevin. That's why he's The Man. "
Quarterback Mike Lomas tried to pump Jones for info all yesterday morning.
"He kept saying he couldn't say," Lomas said. "Then, we were at lunch, and he was sitting at a table facing mine. He saw me looking at him and just went. . . "
Lomas silently mouthed the words "Virginia Tech. "
Tracey Jones, Kevin's mom, said she knew the verdict Monday a week ago.
"The thing crossed through his mind many times after that, but he never really wavered," she said. "He made a commitment yesterday to coach Beamer. Then, I didn't know how he'd hold up in front of Kenny Jackson and Fran Ganter. After they finished with us, phew, I didn't know what was going to happen.
"But I'm happy about the choice. I really am."
Just so she doesn't expect relief.
Stratts is positive that the Joneses will receive phone calls right up until the signing period begins Feb. 7.
"They're not going to give up," Stratts said. "That's how these guys are. Until something is signed, they still think they have a shot. Guys that were eliminated a while ago still call. "
Said Kevin: "Tennessee said they'll call me right up until midnight before the signing date. "
Jones is not yet academically qualified for freshman eligibility. There's homework to do. SATs to prepare for. Wouldn't it make sense, as respectfully as possible, to tell everyone to cease with the calls?
"I might not answer the phone," he said, smiling.
He added later, "Well, I'd still talk to Kenny Jackson. I have a great relationship with him. "
Ouch. One last unintentional arrow through the heart.
James Brown, Jules Mastbaum Tech, Class of 1987
(This was written in April 1992, following the
MASTBAUM'S BROWN IS DELIGHTED IT'S DALLAS
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
The television in James Brown's dormitory room at
Virginia State University is not wired for cable.
Yesterday, it wouldn't have mattered.
"I couldn't have sat there and watched the NFL draft (on ESPN)," Brown said. "I would have been too nervous. I watched the basketball playoffs, first the Bulls and Heat, then the Pistons and Knicks.
"Then, on the news at 6 o'clock, I saw that three guys from Virginia - Matt Blundin, (Virginia), Eugene Chung (Virginia Tech) and Ray Roberts (Virginia) - had been picked. I thought, 'Maybe my call will be coming soon. ' "
Brown thought right. The 6-6 1/2, 330-pound offensive tackle from Jules Mastbaum Tech was a third-round pick (No. 82) of the Dallas Cowboys.
Brown said he had been told to expect anything from a third- to eighth- round selection.
"To go this high makes me real happy," he said. "The guys on the team are happy, too. A couple of them come from Dallas. Most of them just like Dallas. They came into my room and jumped all over me. It's been pretty wild in here. "
Brown received little acclaim at Mastbaum in his senior season, 1986. He had surprisingly quick feet for his size (6-5, 270), but lacked toughness. However, Brown came to life with 11 tackles in the Panthers' 14-12 Thanksgiving loss to Dobbins.
Les Graves, who works as a security officer for the School District of Philadelphia, soon was calling Virginia State, his alma mater, to recommend Brown as a project.
In 1987, a season in which he was redshirted, Brown worked out at defensive end.
"It didn't work out. I just wasn't a defensive player. I was ready to hang it up," he said. "Not drop out of school. Just stop playing football. It wasn't a major thought, but it did go through my mind. I was young then. Young guys are always changing their minds, right?
"The next year they moved me to tight end. A junior and a senior were the starting tackles. The senior got looked at by the pros. They saw him on film and noticed me next to him. Our coaches said, 'Come back for him later. ' "
NFL teams have done well with offensive linemen from Philadelphia in recent years. Erik Williams, of John Bartram and Central State, also is with the Cowboys. Dwayne White, of Southern and Alcorn State, is with the New York Jets.
Going back some, Jim Cooper, of Cardinal Dougherty ('73) and Temple, had a long, productive career as an offensive lineman with Dallas.
John Murphy, Brown's coach at Mastbaum, said he "still perceives 'Bubba' - that's what we called him then - as this big, gentle giant.
"He could really move well for his size and he was always solid, but at that point he didn't realize where all that potential could take him. From time to time watching films, we'd say, 'Who's that burying somebody downfield? ' It would be James. But it would happen sporadically. "
Said Brown: "At a small school like Virginia State, you don't get the coaching attention you'd get at a big school. You have to do a lot of things on your own. I was always aggressive, but down here I made myself mentally tough. I guess that's what got me this far. "
Ben Davis, Malvern Prep, Class of 1995
PRO PROSPECT ALREADY STYLIN'
MALVERN PREP CATCHER/BARBER IS NATION'S NO. 4 SCHOOLBOY
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Davis next month likely will be offered hundreds of thousands of dollars to sign
a professional baseball contract.
For now, he settles for much smaller amounts of cash.
Davis, rated the nation's No. 4 high school prospect by Baseball America, is a switch-hitting catcher at Malvern Prep with a cannon for a right arm.
Enemy baserunners, it turns out, are not all he clips.
If you are a Malvern student in need of a haircut , Davis accepts appointments most days between the end of classes and the beginning of practice.
The cost is $3, having recently been raised from $2.
"Prom season was coming up," Davis said, laughing. "I needed a little more.
"This is my only means of making money. It's the only 'job' I've ever had. Like I told the kids, 'If you go to a barber, it's going to cost $15. This is still a deal. ' Nobody complained. "
Although Malvern's Inter-Ac League game with visiting Germantown Academy was monsooned out yesterday, the 6-3, 195-pound Davis was unable to knock out seven or eight haircuts as opposed to the usual three or four.
As soon as classes ended, a television crew wanted a chunk of his time. Followed by a sports writer. Followed by three high-ranking members of the Seattle Mariners' scouting department.
Seattle has the third pick in baseball's amateur draft, which will begin June 1. It is not unrealistic to suggest that Davis, who is batting .542 with three doubles, four triples, six home runs and 25 runs batted in through 17 games, could be selected in such a lofty slot.
"He has every tool," was the short version of the comments made by Mike Rooney, Malvern's first-year coach.
Here's the expanded version: "His most extraordinary tool is his arm. It's out of this world. When he goes to the mound (for infrequent closer appearances), he hits 86 to 87 mph on the radar gun. Put that behind the plate and it's one in a million. He's got size. He's a switch-hitter with power. He's really polished behind the plate. He blocks balls, knows the game, calls a great game, frames pitches. Then, he's a great leader with a tremendous personality. "
For an unbiased opinion, we turn to Steve Kolinsky, an area scout for the Chicago Cubs.
"Ben should play in the big leagues," Kolinsky said. "With his arm and release and defensive skills, he should at least make it as a backup. The question is, as it is for every kid, will he be a big-time hitter? I feel he will. A lot of people feel he will. "
Kolinsky said he gets excited every time he watches Davis throw.
"There aren't too many arms better than his in the majors," he said. ''Every chance he gets, he shows it off. Not too many people are running on him these days, but between the innings, he throws it down there just like it's in the heat of game. Scouts love seeing that.
"The other things we love are how close he is to the batter - you don't lose low strikes that way - and how he takes control of the game. He's got great makeup. Just watching him, you know he's a kid who does everything he can to be the best he can be. I don't think anything could sidetrack him. The kid is special, real special. "
Rooney said numerous scouts have told him what a difference, and pleasure, dealing with Ben has been. They've commented, he said, about how much more they'd love their jobs if there were more guys like Ben.
"His attitude has been unbelievable," said Rooney, who was an assistant last season under former Phillie Greg Gross, now a coach in the Colorado Rockies' farm system. "Whereas most kids get arrogant when lots of attention comes their way, Ben has remained very down to earth. "
Ben credits his faith, his parents, Bill and Cheryl, and his brother, Glenn, for helping him to remain grounded.
Glenn, a first baseman, last year was an 18th-round draft choice of the Minnesota Twins out of Malvern. He now plays at Vanderbilt. Ben, meanwhile, has signed with Miami, one of the top college programs in the country.
The Davises have been talking with an adviser, the high-powered Ron Shapiro, and a target dollar amount has been set. The scouts have not yet been told the amount, Ben said, and the Davises prefer to keep it private.
"I'm thrilled that high school players are included in the draft," Ben said. "You can look in the majors and find a number of quality players that didn't go to college. College is supposed to prepare you for what you want to do in life. If your goal is to be a professional baseball player, I don't see why you should have to go to college if you can go right into your chosen profession. "
But at the same time . . .
"If you don't have a college education, you might not do too well in life," he said. "I have a scholarship to a great school. To not go on and get a college education, I'll have to be compensated. Probably, money will be a major factor in my decision. "
He sighed. "I just hope to go as high as I can in the draft, and that the contract thing will work out, and that I'll be able to go play pro ball wherever it takes me. "
According to Rooney, Malvern's games have been witnessed by an average of eight to 10 scouts, with a high-water mark of 20. The interest has been intense since last summer, when Davis starred in the U.S. Olympic Festival and the World Junior Baseball Championships. This spring, national cross-checkers, scouting directors, assistant general managers and even a GM, Pittsburgh's Cam Bonifay, have watched him play.
Unfortunately, they don't always get to see him hit. Twice in one game, Davis was issued an intentional walk with runners on first and second.
"When you see all the scouts, it's mesmerizing," he said. "You can't help but think, 'They're here to see me. ' But you can't go up there thinking that one at-bat might make or break you. You have to focus on what's at hand. Not getting to hit sometimes, that's frustrating. I want to hit, and they want to see me hit. "
Scouts just don't watch. As part of their scrutiny, they usually ask top prospects to take a personality test with close to 200 questions.
"Some of them are amazing," Davis said. "Let me think of one. OK. One was, 'Are you scared of wild animals even if they're in strong cages? ' The choices were yes, uncertain or no."
He smiled. "I put no."
Gerald Henderson, Episcopal Academy, Class of 2006
SAYS DUKE WILL BE THE BEST FIT
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
FATHER-SON car rides produce less stress than others.
Like the one last week featuring guys named Gerald Henderson, when son calmly told father he was ready to announce his college decision and felt no need to tell him to pull over.
There would be no shock. Duke, it was. Duke, it had always been.
Yesterday, in a stately stone building on Episcopal Academy's Merion campus, with at least 25 media members on hand to ask him questions or to smile for the cameras, Gerald Henderson Jr. made his oral commitment to Duke official.
The 6-5 small forward, a junior with jump-through-the-basket leaping skills, and more, had narrowed his choices in recent weeks to the Blue Devils and Villanova. Despite the Wildcats' best efforts, the truth is likely that the 'Cats barely had one life in this contest, let alone nine.
Henderson said that going to Duke was his dream since he began following college basketball, and that all he had to do was make sure the reality matched. As he confirmed in several unofficial treks, followed by a recent official visit, it did.
No rock-hard pillows on the beds. No nasty cheeseburgers in the cafeteria. No negative reaction to the hint of folks' drawls.
"Yes, I do need to be here," Henderson kept telling himself.
And his head spun, no doubt, when coach Mike Krzyzewski told him he could blossom into one of the best players to come out of Duke.
"Coming from him, that means a lot," Henderson said. "Especially when you consider the history of the school, and how many great players have come out of there . . . He said he has a vision for me. "
Henderson is one half of what many consider the nation's most dynamic high school duo. The other guy, 6-5 junior wing guard Wayne Ellington, attended, along with his teammates, and he too was sought out by the media.
Why? Well, in part because he's heavily rumored to be headed to the University of North Carolina, which he'll visit this weekend. 'Nova and Connecticut also are still involved.
Henderson at Duke, Ellington at UNC. Now wouldn't that be interesting?
"It'd be a lot of fun. An incredible amount of fun," Ellington said.
When asked whether he'll likely wind up a Tar Heel, Ellington smiled and responded: "It's possible. A great possibility. "
His announcement could come as early as next week.
On the subject of a future rivalry, Henderson said, "If he chose North Carolina, being 20 minutes apart, we'd definitely have a great time. "
(A third junior Churchman, 6-9 Mike Yocum, is virtually being stalked by the Ivy and Patriot schools. Indiana and Drexel also are sniffing, and overall interest should only increase. )
Many hoops gurus view Ellington as a potential NBA early entrant, as in right out of EA. And, in sometimes coy fashion, he has not dismissed that possibility.
As for Henderson, well, he made significant improvement from his sophomore to junior year, especially once he backed off from golf (world-class skills, rumor has it). Yesterday, he did not discount the notion that his stay at Duke might be short, or maybe medium.
Dad, a former 76er and still amazed that a college (Arizona) sent "G" a recruiting letter when he was still an eighth-grader, does not have to be charged with shallow boasting when he talks of his son's skills. Everyone else says it, too.
"He has a great, great upside," he said. "I see a lot of room to grow. He has [wing guard/small forward] skills and is as strong as an ox. And everybody knows about his jumping ability. His physical tools, I think, are unmatched in his class nationwide. If you harness all that . . . I feel he has the coach who'll do that. He recognizes Gerald's potential. "
The decision, Dad said, never came down to home or away. Only whether any school anywhere could match Duke's total package.
"This is all emotional for my wife and daughter because we're a very close family," he said. "The fact that he'll be going away for college is hitting them. Me? I did kind of suggest that going away might be better. He needs to break away from me and start becoming his own man.
"That's not to say Villanova wouldn't have been a fine place, too. We've developed a great relationship with [coach] Jay Wright and his assistants, and we hope it continues. "
Gerald Jr. said he informed Wright of his decision Tuesday night.
"He was a little disappointed; he's been through it before," he said.
He was flanked at the table by his parents (mom is Marie) and sister, Jade, along with coach Dan Dougherty and athletic director Gina Buggy.
Jade is a freshman at 'Nova and, no, she won't need a disguise on campus.
"I think they'll still treat her good," Gerald said.
"I pulled and I pulled," Jade said, smiling and wearing a Duke hat. "But now I have to support his decision. "
Buggy called Henderson "an excellent ambassador for our school. "
Dougherty, who taught him math the previous two school years, emphasized that Henderson would be "a prized academic recruit for any college in the country" and that "his best attribute is that he's coachable. "
"He wants to get better. Wants to learn," Dougherty said.
Also, like a lot of people, he wants to find out where Wayne Ellington is going.
Jerome "Pooh" Richardson, Ben Franklin, Class of 1985
'POOH' PICKS UCLA BRUINS
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Even 13 1/2 years after his departure from Overbrook as one of this city's more heralded high school basketball players ever, the mere mention of his name gets tongues to flapping and blood to boiling.
If the topic being bandied about by hoop junkies is whether it's better to stay home or go away, the stay-at-home proponents point to Andre McCarter as their ever-trusty Exhibit A.
Ben Franklin guard Jerome "Pooh" Richardson, who yesterday, in effect, snubbed coach John Chaney and Temple in announcing his intention to play for UCLA, still was sucking his thumb when McCarter was lighting up Public League gyms with a style that belonged to him, and him alone.
So he didn't see Andre McCarter. But he knows of him, and his story.
What story? Well, McCarter wasn't much of a factor until 1975, when, as a redshirt junior, he started at lead guard for coach John Wooden's final NCAA champion. What followed were several different NBA cups of coffee, not the stellar career many had envisioned during his schoolboy career. Now he's an aide at UCLA under fellow ex-Philadelphian Walt Hazzard, after having assisted last season at Haverford College.
"Many people said to me Andre McCarter was the best player coming out of Philadelphia in a long time, that he went to UCLA and coach Wooden restrained his game," Richardson said. "But I won't be playing for coach Wooden. I'll be playing for Andre McCarter and coach Hazzard, who are from Philadelphia, and who know the Philadelphia game.
"If you look at it, coach Chaney has pretty much the same philosophy coach Wooden had. He would have restrained my game a little. I don't do too much stuff on the court I'm not supposed to do anyway, but I do like to do a little something (creative) here and there. I knew that would be taken away from me.
"Guys can say, 'Look what happened to Andre. ' OK, let's look. How many people would like to have his job, assistant at one of the country's top college programs? I'll bet you guys would lay down your pens real quick to take that job. "
This wasn't the first time Hazzard and Chaney had done head-to-head battle.
In Los Angeles yesterday, Hazzard was telling reporters how, as a student, he used to play one-on-one against Chaney, then embarking on his teaching career, during gym classes at Overbrook.
"We used to beat each other up," Hazzard kidded.
You can bet the competitive fires were burning just as brightly this time around, as Richardson is considered one of the country's top 10 schoolboys, as well as no worse than the No. 2 lead guard.
"I'd say I'd compare him to the young man at Syracuse," Hazzard said, making an obvious reference to Dwayne "Pearl" Washington. "But Pooh shoots the ball better.
"He's going to give our team a little of that East Coast attitude. Those kids are a little more aggressive and hungry. That comes from growing up on the streets. "
Last time we looked, Pooh Richardson wasn't eating his meals in soup kitchens or sleeping on heating vents. But Hazzard's point would appear to be well taken. As quickly as Richardson will unleash an ear-to-ear smile for any camera within three blocks, that's also how quickly he'll slit your throat if it means the difference between a win and a loss.
Franklin went 45-3 in Richardson's first two years as a starter and is very much favored, since frontcourters Paul "Snoop" Graham and Will Bolds are also Division I prospects, to win a second consecutive Public League championship in the 1984-85 season.
Pooh averaged 16 points and eight assists in league play as a junior, never failing to make the Electrons do what coach Ken Hamilton wanted when Hamilton wanted it done.
"Pooh is known for making very good decisions on the court. I just want it known that he also makes very good decisions off the court," Hamilton said. ''He handled this whole thing very well.
"I don't think I realized how much of a weight has been on me until this morning, when I realized it was almost over. Coach Chaney and coach Hazzard are personal friends of mine, as well as what I consider to be great coaches. A lot of days, I wished I could have divided him in half, sent both of them a 'Pooh Package. ' Since that wasn't possible . . . "
While insiders steadfastly believe Richardson chose UCLA the instant Hazzard succeeded Larry Farmer last spring, Syracuse made a strong push and believed, probably with some justification, it was in the running as late as Sunday night.
The Orangemen might have had more of a shot if Pearl Washington had gone public with the I'm-going-hardship statement he has reportedly uttered in private.
Temple? Don't take this the wrong way, Owls' faithful, but I tend to believe you never had a shot, even though Richardson told the media, "If (Hazzard) wasn't the coach, I would have gone straight to Temple"; also that he didn't make up his mind until yesterday morning, even though the press conference had been set for almost a week.
"Going to Temple," he said, during another portion of the interview, "I wouldn't have developed as an independent person. When I have a problem, I want to work it out for myself. I know so many people from around here. I'm sure coach Chaney could have isolated me from that for a time, but it could have gotten to me eventually. There could have been distractions.
"How many times does a guy growing up in Philadelphia, and going to this school, get a chance to attend somewhere like UCLA, a very special place? I'm a guy who's been places, but I haven't experienced going to many places, if you understand that. I have friends from here going to school (at Temple). I feel I'll enjoy it better if I go out there. "
In 1971, of course, Andre McCarter said many of the very same things.
"I can't understand how people call Andre McCarter a failure," Hamilton said. "He started for a national champion and now he has - from what the guys from the sneaker companies tell me - one of the best college jobs around. He's a fine young man and a credit to the city of Philadelphia. It's insane to think of that as being a failure. "
As for Pooh Richardson . . .
"I made the decision I felt would benefit me the most," he said. "And I will make it work.
"I've heard people say Temple is one player away from being a powerhouse, and I feel bad if they viewed me as that one player, and now they're not getting me. But I feel coach Chaney can turn the program around himself. If anybody can do it, he can."
Jim Poole, La Salle, Class of 1984
(This was written in late August 1983 during a
national tournament in Johnstown, Pa.)
POOLE'S PITCHING SLOWS FOX ROK'S FOE
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
JOHNSTOWN -- Fox Rok A.A.'s often ruthless collection
of bench jockeys would chirp into action immediately if an opponent threw a
fastball, and we use that word advisedly, resembling that of Jim Poole.
"Hey, buddy, do you time that pitch with a calendar? You're meat. Toss a salad to go along with it. "
OK, so Jim Poole, a senior left-hander from La Salle High, doesn't throw a fastball that makes the radar gun brandished by pro scouts snap to attention. But he does pitch, and sometimes that's much more important.
Yesterday, starter Russ Gianforcaro (West Catholic, Villanova) struggled for the second consecutive time in yesterday's fourth round of the 39th annual All American Amateur Baseball Association Tournament, getting yanked with two outs in the fifth inning after the Bonnie Rams of Brooklyn scored seven runs to create a 7-7 tie.
Poole threw a first-pitch groundout and went the rest of the way to pick up the 12-7 win, allowing only three hits (one on a horrible call at first base on an infield chopper) and a walk and striking out four.
And he did all that with his less-than-sparkling fastball.
"One guy was swinging ahead of my fastball. Oh, oh. That's slow," Poole said, laughing. "I went out there with the idea to mix things up and pitch with a purpose. I knew I wouldn't have anything on my fastball this time. "
Poole said "this time" because he pitched the final 2 2/3 innings, allowing two unearned runs, in Wednesday's 17-10 loss to Johnny's Auto Sales of Baltimore.
A few days ago he was doubting he would pitch an inning at all.
"Truthfully, I didn't expect to get in there," Jim said. "I was the last of our relief pitchers most of the year, which is OK because I'm the youngest guy on the team and I'm not as good as the other guys we have.
"I was lucky enough to get in with the game on the line. That's all I could have asked for, a chance to show something in the clutch. "
If not for the add-on who decided to subtract himself, Poole would not have been included on Fox Rok's 18-man roster for this tournament. Instead, he would have competed last week in State College with Fox Rok's so-called "B" team in the Keystone State Games.
Under AAABA rules, league champions in the various cities are permitted to add three players from other league members for tournament play. Manager Jerry Bilbee wanted to add pitcher Bob Crepp of Bristol, but Crepp decided to decline the offer at the last minute.
And Jim Poole was on the team.
"Originally, Mr. Bilbee told me I'd be going with big team," Poole said. ''Then the night before we played our first game in qualifying for the Keystone State Games, he told me there had been a change. I guess you could say I was kind of mad. I went out and pitched a no-hitter.
"It was," he added, smiling, "my own little way of saying, 'Mr. Bilbee, I think you made a mistake. ' "
For good reason, Poole made second team All-Catholic in the Northern Division despite a 2-6 record for lowly La Salle. His ERA was a tidy (his fielding support wasn't) 1.58 and he fanned 71 batters in 62 innings.
Actually, his fastball isn't as slow as we've made it sound.
"But I definitely need more velocity," Poole admitted. "Hopefully, I'll fill out a little bit naturally. I'm going to lift weights like crazy and put all my effort into improving my strength, which is one of the reasons I'm giving up football (as defensive end ) . "
Poole is one of those pitchers who, as soon as you see him, makes you say ''stylish. " Hey, if the cliche fits, wear it.
"I really have to credit my school coach (ex-Phils farmhand Ed Molush) for making me the way I am," Poole said. "He knows what pitching's about. In a way, maybe it's better that I don't have great velocity. If I did, maybe I wouldn't work hard on pure pitching.
"Now, if I can come up with some velocity, I'll be way ahead of the game. "
NOTES: Fox Rok went ahead for good with three in the fifth as sub-left fielder Harry Daut (Bensalem, Temple) and Northeast first baseman Howie Freiling (4-for-5 with two RBI) knocked in runs. The other run scored on a wild pitch . . . Third baseman Stu Drossner (Washington, Temple) celebrated his 20th birthday by going 2-for-4 with two RBI . . . Outfielder Jeff Capriotti (Washington, Community) blasted a huge home run to left-center.
Sean Singletary, Penn Charter, Class of 2004
LEADS CHARGE FOR PC
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
SEAN SINGLETARY has a message for those basketball fans who like to tease him by bellowing "Braces! . . . Braces! "
You're only half correct.
Yes, the top teeth are tinseled. But those on the lower deck are uncovered and - phew, look at that - there are many.
"My mom said I had to get the braces," Singletary said, smiling. "It was supposed to be both rows, but on the bottom ones . . . I'm probably going to have to get what they call 'aggressive treatment. ' Get some of those things outta there.
"I need to get this wrapped up. Next year, I'm going to be walking around a college campus. I can't have this stuff going on. "
Singletary is a 5-11, 175-pound point guard at Penn Charter, and a Virginia signee. A fifth-year senior, his high school travels have taken him from Haverford School (1 year) to Perkiomen Prep (2) to PC (2 more), and have produced more than 2,100 career points.
But, brace yourself, this kid is so much more than a scorer, and he proved so again last night.
In an Inter-Ac League game, played before an overflow crowd that was a wonderful basketball experience pretty much from beginning to end, Singletary led all scorers with 30 points as PC tripped visiting Germantown Academy, 74-64.
He also had 10 rebounds. And eight assists. And four steals.
Singletary shot 10-for-20 (3-for-4 on treys) and 7-for-8 at the line as the Quakers went to 6-0 in league play. Four games remain, but only a vintage collapse would prevent them from winning a second consecutive title.
As always, Singletary made three or four plays that only he could have made, whether because of athleticism, timing or instincts and, on a fastbreak, he even unfurled a dunk.
In time, he allowed himself to look ahead to tonight, when PC will play Cardinal Dougherty in the second game of a showcase event, roughly 7:45, at Arcadia University, in Glenside. GA and Simon Gratz will play at 6.
Dougherty has its own franchise guard in Villanova-bound Kyle Lowry.
"I've been thinking about it a lot," Singletary said. "It seems like people all around the city will be paying attention to this one. They've been building up the [personal] matchup.
"We used to be like best friends. We haven't talked in a while. We're very competitive with each other and our fans like to talk trash to each other. "
Based on how he performed as a junior, Singletary last fall likely would have been one of the city's top football players. However, he suffered a shoulder injury last spring playing AAU hoops - trying to dunk, no less - and he gave up the sport.
"I hadn't dunked since the spring," he said. "My shoulder's up to 95 percent. Almost 100, really. "
Notre Dame signee Rob Kurz added 19 points, 12 boards and five blocks for PC, and had an eye-popping sequence in which he got a block and raced downcourt for a dunk. Zack Zeglinski hit three treys en route to 13 points. His brother, Sam, dealt five assists. Joe Rauchut scrapped for eight points and five boards. Brian Grimes led GA with 26 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Singletary's slam provided a 64-58 lead. PC eased away by completing a 16-for-17 showing at the foul line.
In the PC portion of his career, Singletary has scored 979 points. Getting to 1,000 tonight would be nice. Knocking off the lofty Cards would be preferable.
"I take pride in doing all the things I do," Singletary said. "The idea is to keep a nice team momentum going. I can make that happen by grabbing rebounds and making nice passes and playing tough defense.
"You only get assists if your teammates are making shots. But if they're off, I still pass. That's because I know they're working hard and they'll come around. "
So will more "Braces!" chants.
"I might as well get used to it," he said, smiling. "I'll hear 40 times more stuff in ACC games."
Bruce Perry, George Washington, Class of 1999
Bruce Perry wants everyone to know
he is finished playing high school hopscotch.
Yes, Perry transferred after his freshman year from West Catholic to Cardinal Dougherty and, yes, he transferred after his junior year from Dougherty to George Washington and, yes, he has heard the rumor that he will bounce any day now from Washington to Roman Catholic because that school has quality indoor and outdoor track.
The rumor makes him laugh.
It also makes his blood boil.
``Oh, yeah, I've heard it. The track people are talking about it,'' Perry said. ``Forget it. I'm not going anywhere. Washington is in my heart. I love it.''
Although the Washington portion of Perry's football career included major disappointment last Saturday, when the unbeaten Eagles were shocked by Jules Mastbaum Tech, 40-32, in a Public League semifinal, it ended on the high of highs.
Yesterday, the 5-10, 185-pound Perry rushed 14 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns as Washington dropped Ryan, 14-7, in the Battle of the Far Northeast.
Ryan, which will meet La Salle for the Catholic League title Dec. 5, leads the series on Thanksgiving, 19-4-1, and 21-4-1 overall.
Perry finished the season with 1,041 yards on 105 carries - a sliver under a first down per tote - and 12 touchdowns. He added two more TDs on punt returns. His career rushing totals show 291 carries, 2,157 yards and 28 TDs.
Each of Perry's TD runs against Ryan was dramatic. In the first quarter, he sped 97 yards to provide the Eagles a 7-0 lead. In the last quarter - with 28 seconds remaining, no less, on second-and-goal from the 6 - he scored to win the game.
The play was a run to the right. Trying to get into the right corner of the end zone, Perry leaped from the 3, did a half-flip after getting hit low by linebacker Neal Regan and landed on his butt a half-yard beyond the goal line.
If Washington had failed to score, the game would have ended in a tie. The schools had agreed to not play overtime.
After Perry scored, Washington's Ivan Kosty recovered a squib kick that bounced off the leg of a Ryan player. After quarterback Edvard Jean did one last kneel-down to end it, almost all of Washington's players raced to the end zone to celebrate.
Not Perry. He first whipped his helmet into the air, then dropped to both knees, placed his hands on his face and began to cry.
``It was an emotional time,'' he said. ``It was just hitting me how it was my last high school football game. That's it for high school football. I can never go back. It's the most fun a kid can have. I'm going to miss it so much.''
As a sophomore, at a time when the Catholic League had different eligibility rules regarding transfers, Perry was prohibited from representing Dougherty in Northern Division games.
In the first game of his junior season, he rushed 14 times for 219 yards and four touchdowns in a 46-45 loss to Kennedy-Kenrick, and even added a fifth TD on a punt return. However, the season was largely a disappointment as Dougherty finished 3-7.
Perry voluntarily transferred to Washington last spring for personal reasons.
On offense, Perry served the Eagles as a tailback, wideout and slotback and also as a return man. On defense, he began the season as a safety and later moved to linebacker.
``Every situation I've been in, going back to West Catholic, I've taken it as a learning experience,'' Perry said. ``I have no regrets about anything.
``When I came to Washington, I didn't know how the Public League was going to be. For my money, the Public League players are much faster and tougher and more determined.''
At Penn State's football camp two summers ago, Perry was timed at 4.28 seconds for 40 yards. His best time for 100 meters is 10.46. He posted that mark last summer, when he was traveling to places such as Florida, Virginia and Maryland with the New Dimension club team.
Now that football season is over, Perry will start trying to make a decision on college. He has scheduled official visits to Pittsburgh and Maryland as well as a tentative visit to North Carolina State. Also among his suitors are Florida, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Purdue, Texas A & M, Temple, Connecticut . . .
``It's a long list,'' he said.
``I plan on doing [track and football] in college,'' he added, ``but football is my bread-winner sport. The position - I'll let the coaches decide that. I like running the ball, but I just want to be on the field.''
On his 97-yarder, Perry began to his left, saw that the hole was plugged, bounced outside toward the sideline, turned the corner, tiptoed briefly along the sideline and . . . Ryan couldn't have caught him on a motor scooter.
``When I'm running with the ball and there's nobody there . . . it's great to have that God-given speed,'' Perry said. ``If I did get caught, I'd be shocked.''
Washington coach Ron Cohen said of Perry, ``He's the greatest athlete I've ever coached. More important, he's a great individual and a pleasure to be around. Anything we asked him to do, he did it.
``He can run inside, he can run outside, he can run over you, he can run through you. He'll go over you, if that's what it takes to win the game.''
Jason Lawson, Olney, Class of 1993
OLNEY 6-10 CENTER LAWSON CHOOSES VILLANOVA
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
When Jason Lawson walked into a meeting room at Olney
High late yesterday morning, he was wearing a Villanova University sweatshirt.
"We kind of got the message," said Glenn Simpson, the school's athletic director. "He said he had already signed the letter of intent. And that he was comfortable with his decision. "
Mindful that Lawson, a star 6-10 center, had experienced all varieties of consternation while trying to pick between 'Nova and Virginia - his indecision had forced the cancellation of a tell-the-world press conference one day earlier - Simpson kiddingly ordered Lawson to look him in the eye and say that Villanova was, indeed, the choice.
"He did it straight as an arrow," Simpson said. "Didn't hesitate. Didn't blink. Didn't anything. I congratulated him, told him he had our support. Then we canceled the meeting. No need for it. "
In the room with Lawson and Simpson were Lawson's brother, David Lyons, coach Jim Evans, principal Pat Taggart and college counselor Steve Rosen. The meeting's purpose would have been to help Lawson sort things out and show him that he could count on everyone's support.
To everyone's surprise, Lawson privately settled the matter late Thursday night after talking with his parents, Jerry and Debbie Lawson.
"When I got home from school, I went to sleep for a while," Jason said. ''When I woke up, my pop was home. He was kind of upset because I didn't follow through with the press conference. We got into a little argument. I went out to a friend's house. When I came back, he was calmer. We sat down and talked, along with my mom.
"It went well. We got things finalized. My parents were behind me no matter what the decision was. I looked to them for support more than anyone else . . . I said I was set on Villanova and ready to sign the papers. Then my pop and I signed them. "
Lawson, who last season averaged 24.7 points, 14.9 rebounds and 8.2 blocked shots for the 19-5 Trojans and finished with 1,270 career points, said he chose Villanova over Virginia "because I'll be featured at Villanova," adding, "I'll have a chance to become a prominent player early in my career. "
Lawson is expected to become the immediate starting center for coach Steve Lappas. Undoubtedly, he also would have started at Virginia as the replacement for the graduating Ted Jeffries. However, the Cavaliers' other starters are returning. Lawson would have had to wait his turn for the headlines.
Lawson, who plans to major in communications, gave Lappas the good news around 12:30 yesterday afternoon.
"He almost hugged me through the phone," Lawson said, laughing.
He then phoned Virginia coach Jeff Jones.
"He said, 'I respect your decision,' " Lawson said. "He gave me his good graces and best wishes. "
Earlier this week, Lawson eliminated Georgia Tech. La Salle and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas were nixed last week.
While happy days might not be here again for Villanova, which went 8-19 last season after Lappas replaced Rollie Massimino, local flavor is.
For the first time since the spring of 1973, as Massimino prepared for his first season by collaring Archbishop Carroll's Joe Rogers and Roxborough's Chubby Cox, the Wildcats have signed two city-league stars. Guard Alvin Williams, of Germantown Academy, signed with 'Nova last November.
After Rogers and Cox, Villanova signed only one other city player during Massimino's tenure - Barry Bekkedam, who graduated from Carroll in 1986.
Guard Jonathan Haynes, a transfer from Temple by way of Germantown Friends, is also a key player at 'Nova.
All members of Philadelphia's Fab Five are now signed. Along with Lawson and Williams, the others are Simon Gratz center Rasheed Wallace (North Carolina), Franklin Learning Center center Tyrone Weeks (Massachusetts) and Roman Catholic center Marc Jackson (Virginia Commonwealth).
Lawson, Williams and Jackson will be eligible to play as freshmen under the requirements of the NCAA's Proposition 48. Wallace and Weeks have not scored 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.
"I feel relieved," Lawson said. "This wasn't easy. I'll get acclimated to Villanova this summer, then be ready to go in September. "
Joe McEwing, Bishop Egan, Class of 1990
Catholic All-Stars First to Win 2nd Carpenter Cup
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Unlike most of his Catholic League baseball teammates,
Joe McEwing had trouble last week trying to find some rest or relaxation.
Cuddy Marek, his coach with the Bristol American Legion team, took care of McEwing's rest. Marek would not permit his players to miss games because of trips to the South Jersey shore.
"He said, 'If you miss a game, you're cut,' " McEwing said. "Three guys missed. They were cut. "
Anxiety concerning his future nixed all prospects for relaxation.
Playing for Bishop Egan, Joe McEwing was a first team Daily News All-City outfielder, as well as a third team All-City basketball guard. And yesterday at Veterans Stadium, he surfaced as a primary hero when the Catholic League topped Chester County, 7-4, in the championship game of the fifth annual Carpenter Cup to become the first team to win the tournament twice.
However, McEwing's college plans remain incomplete, largely because he has not scored 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.
McEwing attempted the test for the fourth time June 2 and is awaiting the results. He needs 30 points.
"I should find out in a week or so," McEwing said. "It's very frustrating. I don't know where I'm going to be come September. Seton Hall (for baseball) is sticking by me through all this. I talk with the coach once or twice a week. They're still very interested. If I don't get the 700, it'll be a junior college. Probably Brookdale or Mercer County (both in New Jersey).
"I feel really good about this last SAT. During baseball season, my coach, Mr. (Rich) Papirio, was helping me prepare. Twice a week at his house, he was working with me on the English part. "
Offensively, McEwing did not have a spectacular Carpenter Cup. In four games, he hit just .250 (4-for-16) and struck out a whopping - for him - three times.
"I didn't strike out once for Egan," he said, shaking his head.
But in the sixth inning yesterday, McEwing rewarded the patience of coach Paul Ellis (Wood). After Brian Peacher (Judge) turned an infield chopper into an RBI single to tie the score at 2-2, a wild pickoff throw by Chester pitcher Tim Sheridan (Downingtown) moved Roger Harrington (La Salle) to third and Peacher to second.
McEwing, a righthanded batter, followed with a two-run single to right.
The Catholic Leaguers scored three in the seventh as Sean Hollenbach (Wood) drove in Carlos Galarza (Dougherty) with a double, then Nick Del Percio (Neumann) blasted a low liner to center that became an RBI single and a three-base error on Cleveland Indians draftee Cesar Ramirez (Phoenixville).
The cushion would prove helpful. In the eighth, Ramirez doubled and Creighton Gubanich (Phoenixville), the Oakland Athletics' sixth-round choice, cracked a homer off the backdrop behind the leftfield bullpen.
In the ninth, Chester twice had the tying run at the plate, but Brian Warren (St. James) induced a pair of groundouts to save the win for Steve Hoppel (Kenrick).
Meanwhile, McEwing said of his key hit, "I was trying to poke it over the infield. Drive it through the infield. Hit it to right. Anything. It was a curveball and I just went with it.
"I was playing six innings a game and I was getting a lot of at-bats. But I wasn't coming through. I felt like I was letting everybody down. There, I was just trying to make contact . . . I'm overstriding, I think. "
Said Ellis: "When you've got a great player like that, you have to keep putting him out there and keep letting him play. His speed and base-running instincts are tremendous. More importantly, he's a greyhound in center. He catches everything out that way and has a fantastic arm. "
The Catholic Leaguers, who also won in 1987, overcame great hardships to win the tournament. On Saturday, they trailed defending champ South Jersey Central, 9-2, after 7 1/2 innings before rallying for a 10-9, 11-inning win. Three pitchers who worked in that game - Eric Parker (O'Hara), Hoppel and Warren - had to come back yesterday.
Also, the league's top two players, Dan Kusters (Wood) and Keith Conway (Carroll), were unavailable during the weekend because of a commitment to a college baseball camp and lower back pain, respectively. And then consider this: Due to post-graduation vacations, some to exotic locales, that were planned well in advance, such quality players as Frank Stassel (West), George Beisel (Judge), Brian Dunphy (West), Frank Rauscher (Carroll), Chris DeFelice (West) and Chuck Malloy (La Salle) did not try out for the team. All made at least third-team All-City.
"No one looked back and said, 'I wish this kid was here,' " Ellis said.
Said assistant Joe Parisi, of La Salle: "We didn't worry about who wasn't here. We concentrated on who was here.
"To do this, considering everything, goes to show you how much talent our league really had."
LaMar Campbell, Strath Haven (via St. James), Class of 1994
(This was written in 1993, after St. James, in
Chester, won the Catholic
League track title. It closed shortly thereafter. LaMar switched to Strath
Haven for his senior year.)
ST. JAMES WINS TRACK TITLE WITH SCORES OF EMOTION
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Bob Hasson, who last summer earned a law degree and
this summer will enter a seminary, is described by his coaching peers as a
caring man who is not afraid to show his emotions.
Two nights ago, those emotions bubbled to the surface as Hasson, 32, pondered St. James High's final appearance in the Catholic League track championships.
Because the place had previously brought him luck, the eight-year coach of cross country and indoor and outdoor track was eating dinner in Strolli II, an Italian restuarant in Eddystone.
"I was sitting by myself. I just started to lose it," Hasson said. "I was trying to control the tears. It had hit me: This has been the focal point of my life for eight years and it's going to be hard to let it go.
"Just letting go would be hard enough. But to think that the creation that the kids and I have come up with is going to be scattered to the winds . . . That makes it harder. These guys will be going to lots of different schools. "
Thanks to a sensational performance by junior LaMar Campbell, and strong showings from senior Jermaine Battle and junior Harvey Johnson, St. James departed by winning its first championship.
The Bulldogs, who are heavily stocked with underclassmen, scored 127 points in becoming the first South representative to win an outright track title since Cardinal O'Hara in 1974. Also, they kept runner-up Bishop McDevitt (107 1/2) from winning its ninth in a row. (The Lancers' 1985 title was shared with Cardinal Dougherty. )
"I don't mind losing to him, or them," said McDevitt coach Paul Poiesz, who was fully aware that St. James was everyone's sentimental choice. ''Everything was going to have go perfectly for us to win. I have no complaint with how we did. St. James had too much for us, plain and simple. "
Were St. James not about to close, the track enthusiasts among its teaching staff and student body would have talked about Campbell's performance for years to come.
Campbell broke a 13-year-old record in the long jump (23 feet, 2 1/4 inches) and a 27-year-old record in the triple jump (47-4) and combined with Horace Strand, Battle and Johnson to break another mark in the 4 x 100-meter relay (42.70; St. James had clocked 42.71 in '90).
In the meet's final event, he joined with Melvin Raymond, Matt Caia and Johnson to take the 4 x 400 relay (3:24.68).
Johnson also won the 200 (22.25) and took second in the 100 (11.20).
"I was thinking about trying for the long jump record," said Campbell, who will attend Monsignor Bonner or Strath Haven next year and is also a standout defensive back in football. "I did 22-9 in the trials the other day and the record was only 5 more inches. I figured, 'I have a shot at that. ' The other two records shocked me. "
Campbell has been involved in track for two years. The fellow who coaxed him into trying was Battle, his buddy from Chester.
"When I was in ninth grade, Jermaine saw me playing basketball," Campbell said. "He saw the way I could jump. He said, 'You should come out with us, do some running and jumping. ' I didn't know much about it. But I started liking it and started to do well. "
In the jumping events, Battle placed first in the high (6-6), second in the triple (46-7 1/2) and fourth in the long (22-1 3/4).
Battle had not high-jumped since last indoor season, when he cleared 6 feet. He took yesterday's competition after landing on the bar, and breaking it, on his next-to-last attempt at 6-6. He cleared it on his last try.
When the bar broke, it pinched Battle's back.
"I surprised myself by clearing 6-6, especially after a 10-minute delay," he said. "I can't explain it. I just tried.
"I thought I won the triple jump on my last try," he added. "Coach said it was 48-plus. But I fouled. "
Said Campbell: "Jermaine and I have a friendly rivalry. When one of us gets it going, the other guy usually follows. We push each other. "
While St. James and McDevitt battled, Bonner star Brendan Benner excited the sun-baked crowd by breaking the meet's second-oldest mark. Unchallenged, the Georgetown-bound Benner ran the mile in 4:16.12. In '73, Wood's Kevin McGarry ran 4:16.7.
After the championship plaque was presented to Hasson, the Bulldogs did a slow trot around the track.
As they neared the finish line, a fan hollered, "St. James forever! " The Bulldogs then grouped for pictures as Hasson invited parents to stand with their sons.
"A little while ago," Campbell said, "a Roman kid said to me, 'It's a shame your school's closing. ' I said, 'Yeah, I'm really mad. ' He said, 'You are? Really? ' I said, 'Of course I am. What do you think? ' St. James is a great school. We're all going to miss it."
Doug Overton, Murrell Dobbins Tech, Class of 1987
A SPEEDY DECISION
Overton Picks La Salle to Play Under Morris
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
A fellow recently called Speedy Morris in an attempt to
turn on La Salle University's first-year basketball coach to a potential
The pitch began, "This kid can't play for Villanova, but I really feel . . . "
"I knew the guy had good intentions," Morris said, "but I had to stop him. I said, 'Don't bother to tell me anything about him. ' I mean, why would I want a guy who can't play at Villanova? If we're going to compete against the Villanovas - and the St. Joe's and Temples, too - I have to get the same kind of athletes and players that they do. "
Monday, Morris did exactly that when Doug Overton, a 6-3, 175-pound lead guard from Murrell Dobbins Tech, made an oral commitment to continue his career at La Salle. And yesterday, when Overton ticked off his reasons, he ranked the presence of Morris as a solid No. 1.
"Speedy's being there made the difference for me," Overton said. "I received some mail from La Salle (before Morris's appointment), and even two years ago, (assistant) Joe Mihalich said they'd be back to recruit me as a senior. But I can't say I had much interest in La Salle. My pop's house is only about five minutes from there, but I was never much of a La Salle fan. "
Overton originally intended to wait until after the season to tip his hand, but said that "La Salle kept ringing in my head. " He had made official visits in the fall to Rutgers and Southern Cal, as well as an unofficial one to Villanova.
The Wildcats, in all honesty, considered Overton a peripheral recruit. Fellow Big East members Boston College and Connecticut had come hot and heavy, however, along with Rutgers, Northeastern and Loyola Marymount, where former Dobbins stars Greg "Bo" Kimble and Eric "Hank" Gathers are sitting out the season as transfers from Southern Cal.
Overton is averaging 11.5 points, 8.8 assists and 3 steals per game for the 7-1 Mustangs, who suffered their first loss last Sunday, against Oak Hill (Va.) Academy in the final of the Pepsi-Cola Tournament. A four-year varsity performer, he started at wing guard when Dobbins won its first-ever Public League basketball championship in 1985.
Do not be alarmed that Overton's current statistics fail to jump off the page. His game is one that is most appreciated by the true basketball connoisseur, one who feels that headiness and defensive tenacity are next to godliness.
"The way I like to describe Doug," said Dobbins coach Rich Yankowitz, who is in his 16th season, "is that he doesn't do anything great, but he does everything very well. Also, Doug and Horace Owens (a 1979 Dobbins player who later starred at Rhode Island) are the two nicest players, with talent, I've coached. "
Overton knows full well that going from "Yank" to Speedy is like switching from one fireball to another.
"I hear Speedy's a crazy coach, and I've seen him go crazy," Overton said, laughing. "Counting Yank and John Hardnett, my coach in the Sonny Hill League, I've been playing for crazy coaches a long time. Yank's been known to throw a few tantrums, even throw a few chairs. Whatever Speedy does won't affect me.
"What I like about him most is his honesty. When he came to see me play in the summertime, in the Greater Philadelphia League, he didn't just tell me, 'Oh, boy, you're a great player. ' Hey, I didn't want to hear that. I've only been a point guard for so long (two seasons). I know I'm lacking in certain areas, that there are things I have to work on. Speedy told me what I had to do to improve. When someone tells you that, you know they're sincere.
"Speedy came to a lot of our games. He said I was their No. 1 guard recruit. Any player would love to hear a coach say that. When I heard how much interest he had in me, that led me to have more interest in La Salle. "
Big 5 followers should find it intriguing that Morris has successfully recruited the 1986 City Player of the Year - Southern forward Lionel Simmons - and the fellow who stands a reasonably good chance of winning the award in 1987.
Yankowitz and Southern coach Mitch Schneider greatly admired Morris during his 14 seasons at Roman Catholic (1968 to '81). There is no doubting that Speedy, in large part, has pulled off these two coups because of his reputation.
And the question must be asked: Can other local stars be on their way to La Salle?
"Certainly, I don't think many coaches tell their kids where to go," Morris said, "but I'm sure some of them advise their kids. As I always say, except for getting married, picking a college is probably the most important decision a kid will ever make. At Roman, I never told a kid to go a certain school. But I sure said, 'Don't go there,' if I thought a place wasn't right for whatever reason.
"I have a lot of respect for Yank and Mitch, and I think the feeling is mutual. People know that I'm honest, that I look out for my kids, that I don't try to mislead anybody. When their kids said they were going to La Salle, I'm sure they could feel comfortable about that. "
Right about now, Overton's mother, Linda, is as relieved as she is comfortable. Ditto for Overton's father, Doug Sr.
"My pop lives around 20th and Stenton and my mom lives up in Cheltenham," Overton said. "I was getting phone calls at both places. I couldn't escape. Things were getting a little hectic.
"La Salle was such a definite to me, I said, 'Ah, why not do it now?' "
Frank Wycheck, Archbishop Ryan, Class of 1989
RYAN TAILBACK ENJOYS BEING UNDER PURSUIT
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Frank Wycheck has phone, will gab.
If it were up to the 6-3, 195-pound, senior tailback from Archbishop Ryan, big-time football recruiters could call the Wychecks' home at 2 a.m. without fear of chastisement.
The conversation might go like this:
Recruiter: "Excuse me, Mrs. Wycheck. We realize it's late, but is it possible to speak with Frank? "
Frank, brightly, a few seconds later: "Hey, coach, how ya been? Hope the wife and kids are fine. I've been waiting for you to get back to me. Next time cut down the interval, OK? Don't be a stranger. Anyway, what's new? "
Wycheck ran for one touchdown yesterday and was his ever-multidimensional self as Ryan deflated Bishop McDevitt, 17-0, on Northeast High's soggy field. Then, he experienced a similar rush when an interview turned to the subject of recruiters.
"Whenever I read a kid saying he doesn't like to be bothered by all the phone calls, I can't believe it," Wycheck said. "I'll talk to them all. All day.
"I mean, if there was something I had to do, like study for a test, I'd just excuse myself and say I'd talk to them later. I guess they'd understand. It's great, though. Lots of fun. The coaches are good guys. They talk to you like a regular person. You never feel like you're hearing the same spiel over and over. "
One night several weeks ago, Wycheck was not at home when Bill Kirelawich, a West Virginia assistant, happened to call.
"My mother (Marie) answered the phone," Wycheck said. "At first she thought it was my Uncle Frankie. The voice was just alike. It turns out (Kirelawich) is from upstate Pennsylvania, near Hazleton. That's where my mother's from, too. They wound up talking for 20 to 25 minutes. "
Schools other than West Virginia threatening to give Wycheck a case of cauliflower ear include Minnesota, Rutgers and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Syracuse. The way the coaches talk, Wycheck is being viewed as anything from a fullback to a tight end to an outside linebacker.
Yesterday, for example, he had 20 carries for 33 yards, 3 receptions for 22 yards and a punt return for 33 yards. Few backs at the scholastic level can surpass his ability to run with power (not to mention speed; he runs a 4.7 in the 40-yard dash) and catch with sure-handedness. Wycheck last season posted 1,184 yards total offense, 724 by land and 460 by air.
Coach John Quinn, who has guided 13 of Ryan's 20 varsity football teams and who gained vast expertise in the other years by assisting or closely observing, said Wycheck, as a combination runner-receiver, "is as good as we've had, though I guess Albert (Settembrino, 1987 graduate now playing for Minnesota) was at times a little more agile.
"The colleges talk about Frank as a tight end or corner linebacker. I don't know . . . In his first four, five steps, he's as fast as most people. It's just that they want a guy who, once he gets through the line, is going to go 80.
"He'd be good on a 50-50 team (run-pass ratio). He could bang up in there as a fullback, and also catch the ball. "
Said Wycheck: "The interest mainly seems to be as a tight end. That's probably because of the way I caught the ball last year. But Minnesota seems to be talking fullback. Penn State said they'll keep me on their mailing list as an outside linebacker prospect. "
Yesterday, Ryan had all the defense it needed. Linebackers Jeff Burke, Pete Rendina and Tim Wade, tackle "Downtown" Alan Brown, nose guard-end Steve McEachern and defensive back Frank Altmire helped to limit the Lancers to 77 yards in total offense. McDevitt had scored in 64 consecutive games since being blanked by Ryan, 28-0, on Oct. 9, 1982.
"Even with those first two wins (over Father Judge, Bishop Kenrick), there was still some tentativeness," Quinn said. "It was like, 'Maybe we are, maybe we aren't. Maybe we will, maybe we won't.'
"Losing to Egan (17-7, two weeks ago) shocked McDevitt. But because they have a championship (mentality), they came in here knowing they weren't going to lose again. You could see the determination was really there. But things went our way. "
During the summer, Wycheck figured the way to go was to forsake employment and work out almost non-stop. He and his teammates met routinely at Ryan to lift weights and run.
"We knew we had something good this year," he said.
Wycheck, a B-average student, did grab at least four days off, however. He trekked to Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple and Lafayette for unofficial visits.
"The schools call them 'Junior Day,' " he said. "They bring in kids they're thinking of recruiting. They talk to you, show you around the school. It's nice. Around here, I feel as though I tower over some of the kids. At those things I felt real small. It wasn't so much height. It was the way the guys were built. Unbelievable. You see guys 5-9, 190, and all muscle, and they look like they can run. "
The question is: Unlike Frank Wycheck, do they feel like running at the ring of a telephone?
NOTES: Frank Wycheck set up his own touchdown, a 2-yard run 5:44 after halftime, with a 33-yard punt return to McDevitt's 27 . . . Matt Knowles kicked a 27-yard, first-quarter field goal . . . Frank Altmire had an interception and fumble recovery . . . Ryan quarterback Bill Sachs completed eight of 15 passes for 140 yards . . . McDevitt was blanked one other time in 1982, coach Pat Manzi's first season. Judge beat the Lancers that year, 28-0.
Tim Cooney, Malvern Prep, Class of 2009
COONEY KEEPS HIS HEAD IN THE GAME AS MALVERN
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Tim Cooney is quite the thinking man's pitcher.
Lest there be any doubt, these were the first words out of Cooney's mouth after he was asked to detail the enjoyment/challenge he gets out of pitching:
"Hmm, let me think about that for a second. "
"I love the fact that, as a pitcher, you're really in control," he said. "A lot of what goes into the outcome has to do with how the pitcher throws. It's fun being such a big factor. "
And the good vibrations are pretty much a constant.
Even as a sophomore, Cooney was impressive enough to garner co-MVP honors in the Inter-Ac League and earn second-team honors on the Daily News All-City list.
No beats have been skipped. Yesterday, the 6-2, 175-pound junior lefthander twirled a four-hitter (all singles) with 12 strikeouts and only one walk as visiting Malvern bested Penn Charter, 5-1.
Among the spectators: Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, who's about to become a very rich man thanks to the NFL draft. His two brothers are part of PC's squad - John as the leftfielder, Mike as an assistant to coach Rick Mellor.
Cooney was too busy to stargaze. Now if Cole Hamels had been in attendance . . .
"That's my favorite," he said. "That's why I wear No. 35. I love his talent and the way he approaches things. I got his autograph last summer at a Phillies game.
"Nah, I didn't say anything about being a pitcher, and that he's my idol. He was walking along in front of the first-base stands, like they do before games, and I just asked him to sign a baseball I had. It's in my room now. "
Cooney is routinely eyed by Division I coaches and major league scouts. They love that his velocity is already mid-80s respectable and that his savvy resembles a graybeard's.
In this one, it's likely only a shade more than half of his 105 pitches were fastballs.
"If you just pump fastballs in there, people are eventually going to catch up," Cooney said. "The more you mix it up, the better the results are going to be.
"Especially toward the end, as my fastball lost a little steam, I was relying even more on off-speed stuff. All day, really, my primary concern was to throw first-pitch strikes [usually with fastballs] and then mix it up. "
Though Cooney was strictly a pitcher last season, he asked coach Mike Hickey for a shot at double duty and was told he also could become a part-time first baseman by hitting well during the Friars' 10-game stay in Florida. (Check this out: Malvern is 24-1 overall and is scheduled for 22 more games! )
Mission definitely accomplished. Cooney now hits cleanup.
After walking twice, he launched a drive to deep center and fanned on a seventh-inning curve from reliever Kenny Koplove, a 5-8, 115-pound, 14-year-old eighth-grader. A man (well, boy) of many delivery angles, including submarine, Koplove is the brother of ex-major leaguer Mike Koplove, now at Triple A Las Vegas in the Dodgers' system.
Of his whiff, Cooney said with a smile: "That wasn't fun. I sure didn't expect that to happen. "
Koplove plunked Chris "Goose" Gosik to start his one-inning stint, then whiffed Cooney, Mike Lubanski (two RBI singles; he's the brother of Royals prospect Chris Lubanski) and Nick Busillo.
"That kid's pretty good for an eighth-grader," Cooney said.
PC's starter was junior righty Billy O'Boyle, a true soft-tosser. His downfall was the sixth, during which a disputed call on an advancement on a wild pitch - base ump Russ Lickfield claimed shortstop Mark Rhine did not make a tag - enabled Malvern to mount a one-out, runners-on-second-and-third uprising.
Leon Stimpson was issued an intentional walk. Lefty pinch-hitter Alex Olah, in the No. 9 hole, laced a three-run triple to left-center and was gunned out at home as he tried for an inside-the-park homer.
When Cooney, who lives in Collegeville, looks at Koplove, he almost sees himself. It wasn't too long ago - um, last year, in fact - that some observers playfully likened him to an eighth-grader.
"When I do get bigger, I'm hoping my fastball will really be powerful," he said. "I lift weights, but I'm not gaining [size]. I'm not really worried about it. I think it'll happen just from natural maturity. "
There's that word again. Tim Cooney. Always thinking. (And producing results.)
Brandon Moore, Archbishop Carroll, Class of 1988
A strong, three-pronged case can be made for labeling
Archbishop Carroll tackle Brandon Moore the most desirable city football recruit
of the 1980s.
It won't take long. Just a paragraph.
Size: Moore stands 6-8 and weighs 240 pounds. Academics: At the end of last school year, he ranked 27th among Carroll's 367 then-juniors and already had scored 1,190 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test. Bloodlines: In 1969, his father, Rich, a 6-7, 290-pound defensive tackle from Villanova, was a first-round draft choice of the Green Bay Packers.
The ingredients don't get any better than that.
Approximately 40 universities have contacted Brandon Moore by telephone and many more have sent him letters. When basketball begins - yes, he also plays that - Moore plans to work official visits to Penn State, Michigan, Duke, Boston College and either Southern Cal or UCLA around practices and games.
It is assumed that Brandon Moore realizes how much he has going for him.
"Truthfully," he said, "I never thought that I did have it going for me, until recently.
"I never did really well (academically) in grade school. When I got my grades, and if I saw that I passed, that was fine. But in high school, I worked as hard as anyone else, I guess, and my grades came along. In football, two years ago, when I was on the JV and the varsity was practicing for the playoffs, and all I did was stand there as a blocking dummy, I wondered, 'What am I doing out here?'
"It's probably natural to have those thoughts, though."
Rich Moore, who was then usually referred to as Richie, starred scholastically at St. Joseph's of Cleveland. Though Playboy named him to its preseason All-America team in '68, there still was some surprise - from Rich himself, in fact - when the Packers selected him 12th overall in the NFL draft.
Recurring knee injuries limited his stay in Green Bay to two seasons, and though he was traded to the New England Patriots on July 31, 1971, he never appeared in a regular-season game. Moore later was an assistant coach at Drexel University and Roman Catholic High. He now holds a management position in private industry.
"If the question is, 'Did I ever think things would turn out quite like this for Brandon?' the answer is, 'No,' " Rich Moore said. "As he got older, I figured he would have some kind of athletic ability, but he has really progressed, in both sports, over the last couple of years.
"Don't give me any credit. I drove him to practices, made sure he got to the games on time, cheered like a good parent. But he did this on his own. He's had good coaches, too. The coach (Kevin Clancy) he has now at Carroll; he's a wonderful man. I couldn't ask for a better individual to have coaching my son."
Brandon Moore says he mostly enjoys the recruiting process. By now, fittingly, for a guy who plans to major in biomedical engineering and someday pictures himself working as a health care professional, he has parts of it down to a science. Representatives of the still-involved schools know they are to call on certain days and at certain times.
"I'm still getting about three calls a night," said Brandon, who has gained 20 pounds since last season and hopes to add another 15 to 25 by next season. "The schools know how I feel. They know I want to go to an institution, not a factory. They realize education is the first thing I'm looking for. Football lasts only so many years. Education takes you from there.
"When the coaches call, we'll kind of update things from the last time we talked. It takes maybe 10 minutes. I like to ask questions, like, 'Who should I take this week in the betting pool we have at school?' It's great. They all say, 'Pick us. Pick us.'
"You can tell the differences between recruiters. Some have tact. I was very impressed with the man who was calling from Clemson. He captured your attention. He knew how to talk to you. From some guys, you get the impression that they don't even want you. Some of the accents are hard to pick up on, too. With some of those Southern guys, it's tough to tell what they're saying.
"It's enjoyable when you're talking to someone who's interesting. Every phone call, I try to learn something new about the school, the program or the coaches. It can get to you sometimes if you're tired or you're trying to get some schoolwork done, but I have to think about it this way: Most people are not getting these calls. I should be thankful that I am."
Surprisingly, Moore says many schools have not bothered to send him catalogues detailing course offerings and descriptions.
"You get a lot of football media guides," he said. "But they might have only four pages about the school itself.
"One time, a guy from the University of Colorado called and said, 'Now that you've seen the mail we sent you, what do you think of our school? Would you like to come here?' I said, 'I know nothing about your school.' He said they'd had this player and that player and they had a really good program . . . Some of these places just talk about football."
The rest of the Moore family includes Maureen, Rich's wife, and Kevin, an eighth grader.
"He's about 6-foot, 215 pounds," Brandon said of his brother. "Facially, he's an exact duplicate of my father. He's going to be a monster. He's on a first-name basis with many of the coaches who've been calling me. They have down how many years into the future they'll be giving him a call."
Perhaps Kevin Moore will become the most desirable city football recruit of the '90s.
Wayne Ellington, Episcopal Academy, Class of 2006
SHOWING THE STUFF OF LEGENDS
Episcopal's Ellington lifts team to dramatic Inter-Ac triumph
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
The comparison began in whispers, but now has reached
the persistent-chatter stage.
Is it really possible the Philadelphia scholastic basketball community is fortunate enough to have in its midst the Second Coming of Kobe Bryant?
Perhaps you were among the 3,000-plus who last night enlivened Saint Joseph's Fieldhouse during an Inter-Ac League showdown between Episcopal Academy and Germantown Academy, ranked Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, to Ss. Neumann-Goretti, in the Daily News/Fox Philadelphia Area Top 15.
Somewhere in your vicinity, someone had to be saying, "That kid's game has some Kobe. "
That kid is Wayne Ellington, and he's a 6-4, 185-pound junior wing player for Episcopal.
Most scouting services rank him among the country's top junior prospects, and some even call him No. 1. In this one, he did nothing to detract from his ever-golden reputation.
Showing an impressive blend of explosiveness, midair body control and the underappreciated ability to stop and pop, Ellington shot 10-for-20 (one trey) and 4-for-5 for 25 points as Episcopal triumphed, 52-51.
How'd it triumph? In spectacular fashion as, around the facility, hearts raced and palms got sweaty.
GA's Kirk Jones hit a pair of free throws with 9 seconds left that completed an amazing comeback in which his team erased a 12-point deficit in the final 5 minutes, 12 seconds to claim a 51-50 lead. Episcopal coach Dan Dougherty, in effect, then told Ellington to do his thing and somehow put points on the board.
The well-behaved star followed orders. He drove hard down the right side and, while drawing contact from GA forward Ryan Ayers, a Notre Dame signee, kissed a layup off the glass.
Episcopal's student rooters, seated right behind that basket (and the section appeared to include every kid from maybe eighth grade on up), exploded in ecstasy.
Many years from now, when Ellington is presumably lighting up the NBA, those kids-turned-adults will talk about the night at St. Joe's and how the legend got started (for those new to watching him in this neutral-court happening) or continued to grow (for others). Just as others now talk about nights they saw Bryant (Lower Merion High, class of 1996) perform feats of daring and/or miracles.
The teams will clash again Feb. 1 (6:30 p.m.) at Arcadia University, and you might want to get in line now. Proceeds above the cost of facility-rental fees are going to tsunami relief.
Just before he released the ball, Ellington slightly stumbled.
"My leg kind of gave out on me," he said.
That it all worked out should not have surprised. It usually does for the great ones.
"It was somewhat of a desperation shot," he said, smiling. "I just wanted to get up at the rim. "
He said his thought while heading for the hoop was: "Just win, that's all. To win . . . To go straight to the basket. We were tied up" - not really, but that's OK - "and we didn't need a three or a jump shot. We needed to get to the foul line. I made the drive and got to the foul line. "
The free throw missed, and that might have been better, because GA had to go on the fly after 6-10 junior Andrew Ott claimed his 10th rebound. Jones' line-drive trey from maybe 30 feet was not close.
Ellington said he felt honored that Dougherty often let him go to the top of EA's offense and make moves from there out of a semispread formation, sometimes bobbing and weaving through three to four defenders to eye-popping outcomes.
"We felt we had a mismatch," Ellington said. "Mr. Doc wanted to take advantage. When I work on my game, I mostly work on my ballhandling. It pretty much comes naturally now. "
A quick, six-point burst - Ellington's reverse layup off a pass from Joe Rosati; dunk by the other junior headliner, Gerald Henderson (eight points, 11 boards, four assists), off a fastbreak pass by Dylan Brown; Ellington's trey off Rosati's pass - gave Episcopal a 48-36 lead with 5:12 left.
The next nine points were GA's, on treys by Kyle Griffin (12 points), Jones and Ayers (13).
"We wanted uncontested shots, not contested," Dougherty said. "We made some bad decisions. "
With 1:08 left, Episcopal committed its first turnover as Brian Grimes made a steal. He wound up at the line and made two. The Churchmen's second turnover came at 0:26 and that set up the successful, filled-with-pressure foul shots by Jones.
Ellington, who added four rebounds and two steals, is receiving anyone-and-everyone recruiting interest, but said he has not yet begun to whittle the list. Anyway, this is the middle of the season, baby! His junior season! That stuff can wait!
"This win means a whole lot," Ellington said. "But we're not satisfied yet. We have to play them one more time.
"Giving up the lead like we did, that was a heartbreaker. The good thing was, we didn't hang our heads. We still wanted it. That's what we always talk about: wanting it. We got it. "
In the Catholic League:
Though only three of its players scored, and two (Derrick Graff 34, Jeff Jones 18) combined for all but three points, Monsignor Bonner extended St. Joseph's Prep to double overtime before falling, 66-55. Prep scored the final five points of regulation.
Earl Watford, Simon Gratz, Class of 2008
GRATZ' WATFORD MAKING UP FOR LOST TIME
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
To watch Earl Watford play football is to marvel.
It's to watch his combination of talent and drive and think to yourself, "This guy has the look of someone who has played this sport for a mighty long time. "
And he has . . . Just not in pads.
Watford is pretty sure he was only 3 years old when he first became involved in mess-around football games, mostly with family members, at assorted playgrounds. His debut with Simon Gratz High? Not until last season.
Watford, a 6-4, 275-pound senior, stars at tackle on both sides of the ball.
"He's going to be fine," coach Erik Zipay said, referring to Watford's college possibilities. "We have great film on him. "
Yesterday's can be added to the collection.
In just three quarters of action, Watford posted a whopping 11 tackles as the Bulldogs roared past Jules Mastbaum Tech, 36-6, in a Public White game at Northeast. Two were sacks and another went for a loss. Better yet, Watford made two of his stops at the sideline.
Yes, the sideline. And not downfield, either. He rag-dolled would-be blockers, sprinted along the line of scrimmage and thumped guys to the artificial surface.
In 2012, maybe we'll hear Ron Jaworski on "Monday Night Football," saying "This Watford guy is an interesting story, Mike. He did not play football until his junior year in high school and now, here he is, drawing a paycheck and looking like he's going to be a longtime force in this league. "
So, what happened? Why did Watford get such a late in-pads start?
As a freshman, he said, he was maybe 50 pounds lighter and 3 inches shorter and decided he wanted to get larger before he took the official plunge. Before his sophomore year, he said, he suffered a summertime leg injury while playing basketball.
"I regret not being out here in ninth and 10th grade," he said. "I'd be more advanced. Even when I first came out last year, I was unsure of myself. Timid, really. It takes a lot to play football. But as time went on, I got confident and now, well, I feel like I dominate. "
He feels correctly.
"Today they were double-teaming and even triple-teaming me. Still couldn't stop me," he said.
He uttered those words in friendly, matter-of-fact fashion, and came off, somehow, as not sounding boastful at all.
Watford is receiving persistent interest from an assortment of Division I-A and I-AA schools. He can listen with eager anticipation, too, because he boasts a B-plus classroom average and has already posted a qualifying SAT score.
"Football gives you the greatest feeling. There's nothing better," he said. "It's entertaining to watch and when you play it, it's gotta be your lifestyle. You have to live it. I knew I loved football from the time I was very little.
"When you make plays, especially after running a long way, it's so exciting. Exhilarating, really! Remember, I'm a lineman, so I don't get to run around that much. I was always fast, though. Even when I was little. "
Meanwhile, this game had more than a little nuttiness.
In the first quarter there were five lost fumbles in a six-play sequence. And this was in beautiful weather, not torrential rain. The recoveries went to Gratz' Muhammad Dudley, Mastbaum's Jamil Thomas, Gratz' Elijah Akbar, Mastbaum's John Turner and Dudley again. On the play that did not produce a lost fumble, Dudley ran for a 10-yard touchdown that was wiped out by holding.
Oh, and five plays later - we're talking 11 snaps total - there was yet another turnover as Mastbaum's Andrew King recovered a fumble.
Wait, we're not done. Four plays later, an against-the-wind Mastbaum punt bounced backward 13 yards to the 1. A motion penalty immediately put the ball on the 6. Hal Chambliss, a former Mastbaum player, ran for a 1-yard score for Gratz on fourth down.
Dudley scored twice on passes from Dominic Marrow while Daveer Fincher ran 9 yards for a score and Akbar posted a defensive tally on a 34-yard fumble return. Rasheen Tookes rushed for Mastbaum's six points.
Watford, who lives near 9th and Erie, intends to explore numerous options in college.
"But I might want to get into broadcasting," he said, smiling.
Who knows? When it comes to gettin' paid, talking might have to follow playing. *
Jerome Allen, Episcopal Academy, Class of 1991
SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS
ALLEN SCORES 21 TO LEAD EPISCOPAL PAST GA. TEAM IN SEAGULL CLASSIC
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Jerome Allen yesterday chose the occasion of Episcopal
Academy's afternoon basketball shootaround to break out one of his Christmas
Allen's teammates could not see what they perceived as an evil. Nor hear it. But when they sniffed it, they sure did speak about it.
"I was next to Jerome one time in a shooting drill," said fellow guard Brian Dougherty. "I was saying, 'Oh, my God. Get away. That stuff's wicked. ' He smelled like a girl. Why would someone wear cologne to a basketball practice? "
Perhaps as an omen.
The name of Allen's cologne -- a gift from his girlfriends mother -- was Passion for Men.
And, yes, that was Allen who played with a passion last evening at St. Joseph's Fieldhouse, when Episcopal (11-0) downed Towers High, of Decatur, Ga., an Atlanta suburb, 61-56, in a first-round game of Seagull Classic XVII.
Allen, a 6-4 guard who is bound for the University of Pennsylvania, collected 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 6 steals as coach Dan Dougherty's Churchmen ran their two-year winning streak to 26 games. (In the last two weeks, both Roman Catholic and Simon Gratz experienced the end of their streaks at 25. )
Earlier in his Episcopal career, Allen's main duty was to launch three- point attempts. his ability to hit a fair percentage caused Division 1 coaches to scramble for his services.
But now, there is much more to Allen's game. He drives more often. Dribbles past flying defenders for shorter, pull-up jumpers more often. Fires nifty passes to open teammates more often.
In other words, he's showing more pure athletic skill. And that, he has always had in abundance.
Eugene Burroughs, now at Richmond, was the athletic guard in Episcopal's 1989-90 mix, which made it necessary for Allen to play a more subservient role. Not anymore. Hard drive capped by a scoop shot, anyone?
"Everybody had a specific role to play last year," Allen said. "But, when Gene and Jim (Shanahan) left, that meant we had to change a little.
"As we came together in the first couple of scrimmages, each one of us saw where we had to fit in. Mr. Doc emphasized what we should concentrate more on, in order for us as a team to do better. Toebe (Hinckle) and Brian are handling the ball pretty well, so whoever's in the right spot at the right time (gets to look impressive). "
Said Dan Dougherty: "Jerome now realizes that there's more to the game than standing still and shooting three-pointers. He has a great first step. With that comes an awful lot of good things. It frees him to shoot the pull-up jumper or take the ball all the way to the hoop. He's doing that extremely well this year, much more so than he did last year. "
Back on Nov. 12, when Allen made an oral commitment to Penn, the eyebrows of basketball junkies were raised in many locales.
The Ivy League rarely receives the nod from a player ranked among the 10 best in the country at his position (The Sporting News called Allen the No. 9 wing guard). Allen made only an unofficial visit to Penn. He officially visited La Salle, St. Joseph's, Temple and Massachusetts.
Allen said friends and classmates infrequently tease him about not holding out for an offer from a basketball factory. Yet the overwhelming majority of them, he acknowledged, respect and applaud his decision to place academics ahead of athletics.
By the way, Penn recently accepted Allen.
"When I committed," he said, "it was a 'likely acceptance. ' Now it's final. From what they told me, over the last seven years, 90 percent of the people who receive a 'likely' wind up there the next September. "
Less than two minutes into the third quarter, as a basket by Larry Burdette cut Episcopal's lead to 32-31, it appeared likely Towers would hang tough to the wire. But 6-6 senior Eric Moore (12 points) scored six of eight points as the Churchmen regrouped.
In the fourth quarter, the score was 57-51 when Brian Dougherty and Towers star Brian Kelley traded missed "threes. " On Episcopal's next trip, Hinckle fed Chris Wyszynski for a deflating three-point play.
Coach Dougherty was unaware that Allen had appeared at yesterday's shootaround wearing cologne. But once he was told, his mind whirred into action.
"I'll make sure he wears it" for tonight's 8:30 semifinal against LaSalle," Dougherty kidded. "Maybe it'll scare off defenders."
Mike Koplove, Chestnut Hill Academy, Class of 1995
(This was written after Mike made MLB debut)
MAJOR ACHIEVEMENT FOR D'BACKS' KOPLOVE
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
It wasn't the first time Mike Koplove heard his sister
yelling encouragement from the front row of a baseball stadium.
Yet, the size, number of spectators and game's importance were definitely something new.
Koplove, a 5-11, 170-pound righthander out of Chestnut Hill Academy (class of 1995) and the University of Delaware (via Northwestern), made his major league debut Thursday for the Arizona Diamondbacks in a game at San Francisco's Pac Bell Park.
He'll never forget it for two reasons: one involving sight and the other involving sound.
Koplove was able to see Barry Bonds become just the fifth player to reach 60 home runs in a season and get goose bumps while watching a Bonds/Babe Ruth montage on the video screen. But even better, he was able to hear nonstop yelling by his sister, Amanda, 26, even though she wasn't exactly close, and had to be heard over the roar of 41,000 fans.
Amanda, father Steve and other family members were sitting about 30 rows up from the bullpen area when Koplove entered the game in the sixth inning. Amanda dashed downstairs and seized a front-row seat.
"It was strange," Mike said. "There was a full house, it was a game in a pennant race and the Giants were in the middle of a rally, so the fans were pretty excited. The sound was like a big murmur, but in the midst of it all, I could hear my sister screaming at the top of her voice. It was kind of entertaining. It took away a little bit of the gravity of the situation. "
Said Steve: "She got the whole section stirred up. 'That's my brother! That's my brother! ' They were cheering Mike by the end of the inning. It was like 'Rocky IV,' where the fans started rooting for the Russian. "
Koplove served a single to Jeff Kent, the defending National League MVP, and a double to longtime slugger Andres Galarraga upon entering the game, but notched his first strikeout to end the inning and two more, including ex-Phillie Benito Santiago, in a 1-2-3 seventh.
Overall, Koplove felt close to normal as he first headed to the mound.
"I wasn't that nervous," he said. "I told myself I'd worked so hard to get here, I might as well enjoy it. "
Said Steve: "My heart pounded like crazy whenever I watched Mike pitch in the minors. I knew how important every outing was because he was still trying to make it. But now, he was there. I wasn't as nervous. I had confidence he'd show he belonged. He was throwing 90 to 92 mph, and he topped out at 94. "
On two fronts, Koplove, who split the minor league season between Double A El Paso (3-2, four saves, 2.66 ERA) and Triple A Tucson (4-1, nine saves, 2.82), beat incredible odds to reach the bigs. First, he was a 29th-round draft choice. Second, he had to battle the "short righthander stigma. "
"I had to deal with things from the day I was drafted," he said. "But really, the D-backs were always fair to me. Right away they said if I performed well and got people out, they'd keep moving me up. The round and my size wouldn't matter. I took them at their word, then proved myself at every level.
"I wasn't sure this was going to happen [this year]. They called up guys from Triple A in two waves, so it wouldn't clean them out. After the last game, they called me in and said, 'You've worked very hard this year. Congratulations! You're going to San Francisco tomorrow. ' I was like, 'Wow! This is it. What I've been working for. ' Then I called my dad. He got a little emotional on me. "
In two games, Koplove has pitched 4 2/3 innings, struck out six, and allowed no runs.
After his first game, Koplove received congrats from staff aces Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson.
"It's one thing to hear it from your parents and coaches, but to hear it from them, that meant a lot," he said.
That brush was his first with the legends.
"I don't see too much of them," Koplove said. "I try to stay out of the way. I don't want to bother them. They're doing their thing. If they want to interact with me, I guess they will."
Jon Clark, John Bartram, Class of 1991
ALL-STAR FROM BARTRAM IS OVERSIZED BUT OVERLOOKED
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Jon Clark's size is not in the genes.
His mother, Stephanie, stands 5-3. His father, Roland, is 6-foot. Both are slim.
Jon stands 6-6 and weighs 295, down from a high of 320.
On April 13 at 7 p.m. at Northeast High, Jon Clark, of John Bartram, will play defensive tackle for the Public squad in the 17th annual Daily News- Eagles City All-Star Football Game.
Clark will be the fellow who will look as large as any other two players combined.
"Is it fun being this big? Much fun," said the personable Clark, who maintains a B-minus classroom average and has surpassed 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test. "Everywhere you go, there are all these little people running around. When you're my size, you realize how many short people there really are. It's fun having people look up at you. "
As recently as eighth grade, which he spent at Logan's Cooke Middle School before moving to 57th and Baltimore in Southwest Philadelphia, Clark was tall and slender.
Then he started gaining weight. At a frightening pace.
"All I did," he said, "was sit around and watch football and basketball on TV . . . And eat. That tends to catch up to you. "
According to Ralph Ricapito, the Mastbaum Tech assistant who is serving as the Public head coach (he also founded the all-star game), Clark has been the most surprising player in his team's early practices.
Because Mastbaum had played Bartram in its first game last fall, Ricapito was slightly familiar with Clark. Ricapito knew the kid was huge, but he also felt he was slow. In an all-star setting, he wondered whether Clark would be able to produce even at a non-taxing spot such as offensive tackle.
"That's what we put him on the roster as - offensive tackle," Ricapito said. "But he asked if he could play defense and I said, 'OK, give it a try. ' Well, he's still there. At that size - he's such a massive person - I'm surprised how well he moves. "
For now, Clark is receiving interest from Delaware State, which wants him as a walk-on, Millersville and Widener.
"At first, I was bothered (by the scant interest)," Clark said. "But the more I thought about it, the more I understood. When the season started, I was 320 pounds. Coach (Tom) Lodge used me both ways against Mastbaum, but I didn't do well. I was so tired.
"Then, he had me just play offense. He was telling me, 'Jon, you're mediocre. You have to perform. If you don't do the job, we'll get some sophomore in there. ' He was right. As I lost weight, I started playing better. I went both ways the last five games (as Bartram went 5-0).
"I've learned about recruiting. When you get off to a slow start (0-3-1), the college coaches probably figure, 'Can't be any players there. ' They look mostly at the teams that make the playoffs. I got lost in the shuffle. "
When the Publics appeared for their first practice, Clark displayed an All- America mouth.
"You have to talk a little junk," he said, laughing. "Everybody does that. You have to show you're not afraid. You have to show that you can't be taken as a joke. But when you get out on the field, that's when you show what you're made of. "
As a freshman, Clark attended George Washington as part of the school district's desegregation program. That necessitated a 5:30 wake-up alarm, followed by rides on the 34 trolley, the El and the 67 bus.
"I'd always heard bad things about Bartram. It was this. It was that," Clark said. "When I got the chance to go to Washington, I jumped at it. But it was just too far away. Two months into 10th grade, I transferred to Bartram. "
Clark's earliest football days were not enjoyable.
"When the coaches see someone so big," he said, "they expect you to go around crushing people. I'd try to explain to them, 'Give me a break. I never played before. ' But I learned. Got better. "
By this past winter, Clark had developed enough athleticism to help the Braves' basketball team as a key frontcourt sub. After academic ineligibility claimed a frontcourt starter, Clark took his place. He even claimed 10 rebounds in a first-round playoff loss to Overbrook.
"Basketball helps," Clark said. "It gives you agility. "
In college, Clark hopes to study architecture, at least to some degree.
"My mom says I should follow that up," he said. "I'm always drawing buildings. There are drawings all over my bedroom. "
Unfortunately, there are not drawers full of recruiting letters.
But that's what the all-star game is for - to help the overlooked.
"I can't believe he's not being recruited by some big-time schools," Ricapito said. "If you're going to take a chance on somebody, he's the kind of guy. Heck, he's bigger than anybody on the Eagles."
Marc Jackson, Roman Catholic, Class of 1993
ROMAN'S JACKSON WORTH WAIT
A 60-pound drop and an 11-block move later, Marc
Jackson continues his basketball development.
A year ago, at 300 pounds, the 6-9 Jackson experienced an unproductive season at Public League middle-of-the-roader William Penn, located at Broad and Master.
Now, at 240, Jackson is making a favorable impression at three-time defending Catholic League champion Roman Catholic, located at Broad and Vine.
Yesterday, Jackson posted 10 points, 10 rebounds and 6 blocked shots as the Cahillites melted visiting Monsignor Bonner, 65-40, in a largely forgettable South opener.
"I never saw a Catholic League game in my life," said Jackson, a junior. ''I wasn't sure what to expect. Guys play hard, I'll say that."
Jackson most often battled Bonner's 6-7 Chris McFadden, also a junior. McFadden managed 10 points and three rebounds. Trash-talking was a standoff, but McFadden snuck in the last word as he left for a late-game substitute: ''See you at Bonner."
Jackson is still not confident on offense. But when he posts up low and seals off his defender, he can catch an entry pass, turn with some semblance of authority and power the ball off the glass. The weight loss has resulted in improved jumping ability (that is still not a strength, however) and better timing for shot-blocking purposes.
"This league has a lot of players like McFadden. Some pretty good big men," Jackson said. "The guy I really want to go against is (Cardinal O'Hara soph) Adonal Foyle. I've seen tapes of him. I can't say anything bad about him. By going against him, I'll be able to tell how much I've improved."
Jackson recorded an 86 classroom average in the first marking period.
"This is a great school," he said. "The teachers are willing to help you at any time, and you can even talk to them about personal problems. Tutoring is available any time you need it."
At Penn, Jackson never seemed to fit in. The rest of the players were small forwards and guards who wanted to fly upcourt. Being so overweight, Jackson had problems getting involved. The Catholic League, of course, favors a slower-paced style, and even Roman has downshifted this season because it has fewer great athletes.
Preliminary recruiting interest has multiplied since Jackson transferred to Roman.
"Roman has such a national reputation," Jackson said. "I'm getting mail from Big East and ACC schools. Overall, I'd say Providence and Xavier are writing to me the most."
Providing most of Jackson's help yesterday were swingmen Kyle Locke (16 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks) and Dennis Bohn (16 points, seven rebounds), a junior. Both are team-oriented hustlers. Forward James "Flame" Lewis missed his first seven shots, but finished with 10 points, 10 boards and 4 assists.
For Bonner . . . Oh, never mind. It was one of those afternoons.
Maurice Stovall, Archbishop Carroll, Class of 2002
CARROLL'S STOVALL HAS REGAL PRESENCE
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Maurice Stovall, hot football recruit, was spotted last
Saturday in a Corvette convertible.
Stop thinking what you're thinking.
The Corvette was not presented to Stovall by the members of some big-time program's out-of-control boosters club. It was not presented at all. Hey, and Stovall wasn't even driving.
Stovall took a ride in the fancy car - one lap around the track at Radnor High - as part of Archbishop Carroll High's Homecoming festivities, and he did so with something pretty darn gaudy, a crown, on his head.
"It was this high," he said, smiling, holding his hands about the length of a football apart.
Stovall, a 6-5, 205-pound wideout, defensive back, punt returner and kickoff returner, is "Mo" or "Bird" to his long-time friends. Now, at least for the moment, he is also answering to "King. "
As Stovall walks through the hallways this week, he is getting constantly greeted by the low-volume chant, "Homecoming king . . . Homecoming king. " He chuckles and takes it all in his very long strides.
"People were saying I had a chance to be the king, but it was still a surprise," Stovall said. "Riding around like that was sort of embarrassing. It was like, 'This is nice, but let's get it over with. ' My mom was all excited. They gave me the crown to take home - I guess I can keep it - and she put it on the mantel. "
Seven decently sized cardboard boxes filled with recruiting letters and media guides are elsewhere in the Stovalls' West Philadelphia home.
Because of his height and speed and general pass-catching savvy, Stovall is the most prominent city-leagues' receiving prospect since Marvin Harrison, now starring for the Indianapolis Colts, signed with Syracuse in February 1991.
Georgia Tech is the current leader for his services, while Virginia and Notre Dame are also cemented in the mix. Tennessee and Michigan are hanging in as schools Nos. 4 and 5, or vice versa, though it's possible they could be replaced as time goes on.
Stovall, who envisions a career in business or the media, said he plans to make all five official visits because that will enable him to make the most informed decision.
When asked why Georgia Tech was No. 1 for the moment, he said he liked the school and the coaches "and their passing attack. "
He added, "I don't get much of a chance, but my father is watching a lot of college games on TV, trying to scout how teams do things and whether I'd be a good fit. "
Maurice Sr. was a second-team Daily News All-City lineman for John Bartram in 1978 and then played at Cheyney. He's a probation officer. His wife, Cynthia, who operates heavy equipment, attended West Catholic and was known for being a fast runner, though she never participated in track.
Dan Bielli, Carroll's coach, said he clocked Stovall in 4.26 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
"Right out there on our tennis courts," he said, motioning in his office. "He was in sneakers. "
Perhaps mindful that a 4.26 time, in sneakers, on a tennis court, sounded a mite unreal, Bielli added, "He's been timed at 4.3 consistently [at other venues]. "
Stovall this season boasts 17 receptions for 355 yards and three touchdowns for the 5-1 Patriots, the defending Catholic Blue champ and favored to repeat. In the last two games, he scored twice on punt returns and once on an interception.
Bielli, who was the coach of Carroll's 1998 freshman team, when Stovall was a quite-raw running back, is duly impressed, of course. But what he likes even more about Stovall is that he's a motivated gunner on punt coverage - "He gets down there and bangs through the wall before it even sets up" - and remains extremely humble.
To roughly approximate halftime, Bielli has a 5-minute break built into every practice. Invariably, Stovall spends that time having a catch or just talking with lesser lights.
"Mo doesn't big-time anybody," Bielli said. "Some of the parents, the ones that come around practice and see him up close, have mentioned how much they appreciate how he handles himself. "
The soft-spoken Stovall, who is academically qualified for freshman eligibility, said he loves competition and enjoys trying to outsmart defenders.
"If it's too easy, it's not really fun," he said.
As the recruiting interest began to mushroom last summer, the Stovalls made an unofficial visit to Notre Dame on one trip and trekked to North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and Georgia Tech on another. They tied those visits to an appearance in an AAU basketball tournament in Florida by Stovall's sister, Enonge, now a Carroll freshman.
"It was interesting just seeing how much equipment they have," Maurice said. "And how big the players were.
"I'm getting two to three calls a night [from college coaches]. They ask me how things are going and they like to know where they stand against the other schools. I've thought a lot about how it would be playing in front of, say, 100,000 people. I'm sure I'd be nervous at first. Maybe a little scared. But then I'd be fine. "
Because Carroll has other weapons and has outscored opponents, 164-29, footballs don't exactly go whizzing in Stovall's direction on a regular basis.
After halftime Saturday, during what became a 41-6 bludgeoning of Cardinal Dougherty, a fan took notice of the cobwebs on Stovall's uniform and bellowed to the coaches, 'Throw the King the ball! The King needs the ball! ' "
"I heard that," Stovall said, laughing.
Just another reason to blush for the Crown King of Modesty. *
Dionte Christmas, Samuel Fels, Class of 2004
HE'S MAKING SEASON MERRY AT FELS
As usual, Christmas makes big contributions in victory over Masterman
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
So, are you kind of sad that the Christmas season has
come and gone?
Do you miss the tree, the lights, the decorations? Even the idea of receiving wacko, what-were-they-thinking? presents that need to be returned?
Well, head on over to Samuel Fels High! Specifically to the gym. It's still the Christmas season and things are rather festive.
The headliner on Fels' basketball team is none other than Dionte Christmas. Please don't get mad that he doesn't play hoops while wearing a Santa hat.
"When I was little, I used to get kidded about my name a lot," he said, smiling. "That has pretty much stopped, but I still get asked about.
"Every year, I get at least one teacher who's fascinated with my name and wants me to try to find out how we got it. I do know my grandfather has it, and I've asked him about it. He doesn't really have an answer. "
Speaking of an answer, Christmas could very well provide one for a Division I college program looking for a late bloomer with a serious upside.
Christmas, a 6-5, 185-pound small forward, is one of the city's leading scorers, and yesterday he contributed 24 points as the Panthers powered past visiting Julia Masterman, 60-34, in a Public League game.
He shot 9-for-17 from the floor and went 4-for-8 on threes. He canned his only two free throws while adding 11 rebounds, two assists (he made passes good enough for at least five more) and four steals.
One time on a break, Christmas ran the floor like a young colt, pointed unobtrusively to senior guard Dawud Lyons and nearly jumped through the basket on the resulting alley-oop dunk.
Sadly, no one yelled, "Holy Christmas! "
Christmas' build and playing style are similar to Tyreek Byard, who last winter had a breakthrough senior season for Franklin Learning Center and wound up earning a scholarship to Temple. He already is making headway for Owls coach John Chaney.
As recently as two seasons ago, Christmas was very much a lesser light and finished with 36 total points.
"I really got a lot better in the summer before 11th grade," he said. "Once I started to improve, it made me want to work even harder. "
Fels is hardly a basketball mecca and Christmas' original intent was to attend Martin Luther King. His family moved to Olney, near A and Champlost, before his freshman year, however, and he decided to enroll at Fels.
His father, James, was a football player at Olney and Delaware State and later was an assistant coach with Delaware State's women's basketball program. He still coaches in youth programs.
"When I was 12," Dionte said, "I got cut from the Oak Lane Wildcats. I'd never been cut from anything in my life. That was a tough thing. It hurt me a lot. My dad was coaching the 10-and-under team. He just dragged me along to all of his practices and I'd work out with them, or off to the side. I had no left hand back then. Couldn't use it at all.
"I still do a lot of work on my game. I do the private workouts every Sunday with John Hardnett [of the Sonny Hill League] and I play for 3-4 hours every Saturday at Olney Rec. If there aren't enough guys to run up and down, I'll just do drills.
"My best thing now is shooting threes. I'm working on going to the basket and those stop-and-pop, midrange jumpers. Not too many layups available in college ball. "
Christmas, who wants to major in business, is a B-average student and has a shot at achieving a qualifying SAT score. La Salle, Coppin State and Albany are in steady contact, and Villanova has at least asked questions.
Dionte is maintaining a levelheaded approach.
"I go to a lot of D-I games," he said. "I don't know if I'm ready for that, yet. Those guys are so strong. I might do better going to prep school first. "
Mindful of Christmas' future, Fels coach John Bissett tries to play him facing the basket as much as possible.
"But whatever I ask him to do, he does it," Bissett said. "He's our biggest kid and we need him down low sometimes. He does it willingly. He's a very nice kid and has really taken a leadership role.
"Dionte's father is a good influence for him. The things I tell Dionte, he agrees and reinforces them. "
Lyons, a nephew of Jason Lawson, a former star at Olney and Villanova and an NBA player, also turned in a solid performance (18 points, six rebounds, six assists, four steals) for Fels. Fareed Williams added eight rebounds.
For Masterman, three players handled most of the production. They were Zahir Carrington (12 points, seven rebounds, three blocks), Stephen "Same Name" Stevens (11 points) and Pierre Milburn (eight points, three assists, five steals). Carrington is a promising 6-5 sophomore.
Two years ago, Dionte was not even that.
Now, things are going so well in his career, he always feels like a kid on Christmas morning.
Jameel McClain, George Washington, Class of 2003
McCLAIN FOR THE DEFENSE
George Washington standout stuffs Central
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
George Washington High's football players were walking
briskly toward the team buses.
Not Jameel McClain. Not even close. He was takin' his time.
"Don't worry, they're not going to leave me," he said, smiling broadly.
It's nice to be The Franchise. For the 6-2, 240-pound McClain, a senior, it's also head-spinning.
Once McClain reached the buses and took his seat in No. 1, it was a wonder no one tapped frantically on the window and told him, "Yo, Jameel, get off! You're needed on Bus No. 2! "
McClain last year served the Eagles at center and defensive end. But he's now an offensive tackle and middle linebacker and, as recently as 2 weeks ago, his position on offense was fullback.
"I don't mind moving around so much," McClain said. "I figure knowing more positions will help me for college football. "
Syracuse, Wisconsin, Penn State, Temple, Virginia and West Virginia are among the colleges contacting McClain to varying degrees.
One has to imagine yesterday's tape will be prepared for distribution to those and other schools.
McClain fared well on both sides of the ball as the visiting Eagles downed Central, 28-14, in a Public League game between likely title contenders.
McClain's blocking helped senior halfback Larry Turner rush 12 times for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Also, he contributed nine tackles and two pass deflections.
Washington used a very uncommon alignment within its 5-3-3 defense. The corner linebackers, Ricardo Rivera and Marcus Banks, were at least 8 yards away from McClain to either side, meaning Jameel had all kinds of responsibility.
"I didn't mind," he said. "I knew I was getting a lot of help from my D-linemen in front and the other linebackers and the D-backs coming up hard from behind. I like that the coaches have that kind of faith in me.
"My main assignment was to make sure their fullback [Quindel 'Milky' Ladson] didn't get too much yardage on those hard runs he does up the middle. It seemed like we held him down [11 carries, 57 yards]. "
Washington coach Ron Cohen said he switched McClain from defensive end to middle linebacker simply "because we felt he was good enough to handle it. "
At first, McClain was slightly unsure of himself.
"It's a whole different game in the middle," he said. "It's a lot faster in there and you've got a lot more people trying to come out and block you. I'm getting better at it, though, with the help of [assistant Bill 'Skip' Singletary, the former Temple All-America]. I just try to come forward as I'm finding the ball. "
McClain's fullback experiment could be traced, Cohen said, to the Eagles' dearth of experienced backs. Stationing McClain in the backfield would provide more protection for quarterback Marcus Kennedy.
But the offensive line, hit by academic ineligibility before the season, was further thinned by injury and McClain had to wave bye-bye to his glory days (stretching the definition; he had 16 carries for 41 yards in three games) as a ballcarrier.
"No problem," he beamed. "I get my glory on defense.
"I was actually getting ready to ask coach Cohen to switch me anyway. I didn't take any hard hits, but I didn't like running that much. I like being on the line. Doing that hard work to help our backs. They're getting good, so it's not like I'm really needed back there. "
Kennedy and soph Jerry Butler scored Washington's other TDs on short runs. Turner lost a 78-yard TD on a kickoff return due to an ill-advised block in the back well behind the action.
Michael Yeiter scored for Central on a 5-yard counter (it was his only carry), and Ladson recovered the ball in the end zone after quarterback Marcel Quarterman botched a handoff.
Kennedy (two) and Rivera had interceptions. Brandon Peaker notched two sacks.
McClain, who lives in North Philly, is on the doorstep of earning a qualifying SAT score. For the moment, recruiting's on a way-back burner.
"I'm focused on the season," he said. "You only go through high school one time. Gotta enjoy it."
Maurice "Mardy" Collins, Simon Gratz, Class of 2002
GRATZ'S COLLINS GOES FROM SUB TO STAR
Helps Bulldogs defeat Inter-Ac power GA
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
One thing kids need to know is that there's truth in
the stories told to them by adults.
Maurice "Mardy" Collins, freshly arrived via transfer, was reminded again and again last basketball season that Michael Cuffee, his Simon Gratz High teammate, had been a deep sub the previous season.
He watched as Cuffee exploded into a first-team All-City player. From right up close, in fact.
"I used to play against him in practice," he said.
Maurice "Mardy" Collins is the Next Michael Cuffee. His coming-out party was Saturday night at Temple's McGonigle Hall.
Gratz edged Germantown Academy, 55-53, in a battle of longtime titans - Public League and Inter-Ac League, respectively - in the feature attraction of the third annual Nu-Wave Wireless/Scholastic Play-by-Play Network Classic. The 6-5, 190-pound Collins, a senior power forward, shot 10-for-17 and 5-for-5 for 25 points and claimed 14 rebounds.
It's unlikely he ever flashed a bigger smile than he did in the moments immediately afterward. Not only had he starred in the most important basketball game of his budding career, but his mother, Eunice Hill, had been there to see it.
After accepting a 2-foot trophy for being Gratz's game MVP, Collins hurried to sidecourt to be with his family - mom, three sisters, two more loved ones. Everybody was hugging and posing and flashbulbs were popping like mad.
"That's the first time my mom saw me play," Collins said. "She's always working and can never get to the games. I've got to get her to come more often. "
Gratz coach Bill Ellerbee, of course, mentioned to Collins last school year that Cuffee was living a come-from-nowhere dream. But it was volunteer assistant Roland Wharton, father of guard Tariq Wharton, who talked about it on almost a daily basis.
Knowing what was possible made it easier for Collins to handle playing maybe 3 minutes in some games, none in others.
"It was frustrating. It's hard not playing," Collins said. "But we were winning and going to the championship. I just waited my turn.
"I knew I could play. Really, I thought of myself as a star. I always did nice [in outside competition]. I just needed the chance to prove it with Gratz. Off what I did in summer leagues, people were calling me one of the city's most improved players. And when we had our little preseason meeting with Mr. Ell, he was telling me, 'I expect you to really make strides. '
"This feels good. I'm proud. I've put in all the hard work and I'm starting to blossom. "
Ellerbee said of Collins: "He just wasn't ready last year. He is now. He's big-time. He's so talented that sometimes he doesn't understand about giving it 100 percent. He floats. He wasn't floating tonight, though. "
The outcome was entrusted to Collins. Even though he didn't produce, it all worked out.
With 1 minute, 23 seconds remaining, GA guard Matt Walsh, a Florida signee and usually a dead-eye shooter, missed both ends of a double bonus leaving the score at 53-53. Collins rebounded and the Bulldogs, with GA's permission, opted to run down the clock before calling time at 0:14.
Using quick, back-and-forth dribbles, Collins tried to shake 6-7 Duke signee Lee Melchionni on the right side. But he slipped and the ball squirted to the left. Senior wing guard Augie Woodlin lofted an 18-foot jumper, but the result was an airball. Luckily for Gratz, Temple signee Micheal Blackshear was able to catch it, lean backward and put it home just before the buzzer.
In his excitement, Blackshear thought the shot was by Collins and that the ball came off the rim. Anyway . . .
"I showed relentless effort," Blackshear said. "I was infuriated that my points and rebounds [10, nine] weren't what they should be. When I saw that ball, it was like a championship was on the line. I had to get it. Had to do everything in my power. In that split second after I caught it, I thought about what Mr. Ell always tells me. 'Use the backboard, Mike. '
"Mardy lost the ball on that play, but overall, what a great job he did. I thanked him. I felt I didn't do too much, but Mardy picked up the slack. When we're on the same page, we're unstoppable. "
Collins lived as a youngster near Gustine Rec Center, in East Falls, where he got his start. He played a half-season of junior varsity ball as a ninth-grader at Roxborough and did not play at all in 10th grade while attending John Bartram. His mom still lives in Southwest Philly, but Collins lives with his sister, Rameca Hill, near 68th and Ogontz in West Oak Lane.
Recruiting interest is coming primarily from Coppin State, Towson and Maryland-Eastern Shore.
"I feel I'm capable of becoming a really good player," he said. "Here I'm needed more on the inside to help out Mike. But I'm really a small forward. "
Perhaps his story can be no small inspiration to the Next Maurice "Mardy" Collins.
Bill Ellerbee, on Gratz's underdog status: "We're used to being top dogs. We hadn't been playing like top dogs, though. This was our best defensive effort. And it had to be with all the shooters GA has" . . . Matt Walsh didn't score until 1:40 remained in the half, but finished with 18 points . . . Lee Melchionni, limited to 23 minutes by foul trouble, didn't score until 3:43 remained in the third quarter. He had nine points . . . The crowd was about 2,000. There was very little sustained noise until the stretch run . . . Bartram went to 18-0 by holding off Chester, 58-55. Guard Charles Jones went 4-for-4 from the line in the last 17 seconds . . . Maureece Rice scored 29 points for Strawberry Mansion in a 79-71 OT loss to St. Augustine, of New Jersey . . . Forward Darron Bradley had 19 points and 11 rebounds for Martin Luther King in a 54-43 win over Paterson (N.J.) Catholic . . . Archbishop Carroll lost to St. Dominic (N.Y.), 61-56 . . . Ben Franklin was humbled by Council Rock, 56-38. *
Bob Zupcic, Bishop Egan, Class of 1984
EGAN'S ZUPCIC IS JUST A REGULAR PLAYER
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Bob Zupcic splashed onto the Catholic League baseball
scene last year as a pitcher, doing a creditable job for Bishop Egan during the
Northern Division regular season and allowing only three earned runs in 12
Folks drooled, as they do when a kid is only a sophomore and his pitches sizzle like bacon.
Then came 1983. Zupcic rang up a 5-3 record for Egan during the regular season, but his ERA was a not deceptive 4.58.
"I'd rather be known as a good hitter who happens to pitch," Zupcic says, ''than a pitcher who happens to hit pretty well. "
That explains why Zupcic has become better known for his hitting, witness his .370 average and 20 RBI during the regular season and his 2-for-4, solo- homer performance yesterday that helped lead Egan over Cardinal Dougherty, 8-5, in a first-round playoff at La Salle College.
Oh, Bob also pitched for the Eagles, who will meet North Catholic today, 3:30 p.m., at the same site in the second round. He allowed seven hits and four runs (three earned) in five innings before Ted Blucas collected a save.
"I like pitching," Zupcic said, "but I'd never want to stop playing a regular position to concentrate on it. I feel I've always been a good hitter. Anyway, I haven't been dominating as a pitcher, so my baseball future is probably as a regular player. "
Although Zupcic played shortstop in the sixth and seventh innings, he is projected as a first baseman or outfielder. Then again, Bob could decide to concentrate on football - he became the starting quarterback last year after Blucas suffered an injury - in college.
"I like football in that season, baseball in this season," he said. "For now, I'm playing it by ear. I guess, though, I'd lean a little more toward baseball.
"Early this year, I was frustrated with my pitching, although I knew I was giving it my best. I was walking too many guys and giving up too many hard hits. My pitches were up. When that happens and you fall behind, you can't mix things up the way you'd like to. You have to throw too many fastballs and guys start sitting on them. "
Just before Bob Zupcic's homer, Dougherty thought it was sitting pretty thanks to a three-run fifth that produced a 4-3 lead.
Zupcic's blast cleared the fence in right-center and immediately was matched by junior catcher Greg Youngblood, also the supplier of a two-run shot in the third in the same direction.
Talk about batteries with power. Yesterday, at least, these guys rivaled the Diehard.
Youngblood was one of four catchers to finish in a tie for second team All- Catholic, with the vote-off nod going to Father Judge's Steve Nejman.
"I was kind of shocked when the news came from coach (Joe) Coleman," Youngblood said. "People were saying I'd probably wind up on the team, that I deserved it. Making All-Catholic is a nice individual award, but making the playoffs is more important.
"Anyway, the first home run erased any disappointment and the second was like icing on the cake. I never would have expected to do this. I didn't even know about starting. Finally, just before the season started, coach Coleman told me I'd proven myself, that I'd be the starter.
"I hit pretty well in the beginning, then the pitchers started throwing junk and, to be honest, I didn't know how to react. "
Youngblood hit his homers off fastballs, so he still knows what to do with them. Zupcic also powdered a fastball.
Otherwise, Egan was not exactly the second coming of Murderers Row, collecting only six hits total. Of course, the Eagles' chances to hit were somewhat limited, with Jaime Przybylinski and Kevin Vilsmeier walking seven batters and hitting two more. Three errors didn't help the Cardinals' cause, either.
"I could tell in batting practice that right field would be the way to go," Youngblood said. "The ball was carrying well in that direction. "
"It felt strange getting two hits to right field," said Zupcic, who singled to the right of second baseman Ed Kozlowski in the third inning. "I think I'd only gotten one hit to the right side all year. "
Last year at this time, it appeared that Bob Zupcic's "right position" would be pitcher.
However, he's shown he does too much right at the plate to be left out of anyone's everyday lineup.
Lionel Simmons, Southern, Class of 1986
SOUTHERN'S SIMMONS PLAYS HARD - OR SOFT
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
His playing style usually resembles that of a bull, and
an inner rage is apparent when the situation warrants.
But to Lionel Simmons' credit, if a butterfly needs to be imitated, he's not too proud to flutter.
Some high school superstars, even if covered by three defenders, would feel the macho need to somehow burst through and risk having their arms chopped off for the sake of a rim-wrecking dunk.
Lionel Simmons, in that same situation, is more inclined to flick a pass to a wide-open teammate for the simplest of layups.
Simmons wasn't the only reason visiting Southern squeezed past University City, 64-63, in a Public League game yesterday that gave off an odor for three quarters, then sparks in the fourth. Like always when the Rams (10-1) win, however, he was one of the prominent reasons.
The 6-6 Simmons, who is spending more time on the wing in preparation for college, shot 8-for-14 and 6-for-7 for 22 points. He grabbed just 3 rebounds, but had 6 assists and 4 steals.
Also, when Southern played man-to-man in the first half, Vincent "Butter" Smalls, University City's inside terror, shot only 1-for-6 and scored just three of his 13 points.
It was Smalls who attempted the last shot, an 8-foot banker from the left side that bounced a bit too hard off the glass as the buzzer sounded.
That ended one game (basketball) and started another (trying to pin down Simmons, as subtly as possible, on his college destination).
Simmons, who already has made official visits to La Salle, St. Joseph's and Old Dominion, said chances are "70-30" he'll remain in the city. He also said he intends to follow through on his plans to visit Boston College and Wake Forest and to not announce his decision until after the season.
"I had planned to make up my mind after the Christmas tournament," Simmons said. "But my coach (Mitch Schneider) thought it would be better to go ahead and enjoy all my visits because it's something I'll never get to go through again. "
Those close to Simmons, noting that he rarely leaves South Philadelphia, let alone the city, are convinced La Salle and St. Joe's are the only schools with a legitimate chance. The others are involved merely for show, they say.
"Going away could be an adventure. I think I'd like to stay home . . . for the most part," Lionel said with a chuckle. "Philadelphia is a basketball city. I like being a part of that. To get me to go away, it would have to be a school with great academics and great basketball - above all, a winning school. "
How, someone asked, would you compare La Salle and St. Joe's?
"Oooh, that's 50-50 straight down the line," he said.
Except for a tendency to misfire on almost as many chip shots as a golfer struggling to make the PGA Tour, Simmons is generally pleased with his play this season.
And, sorry, he says, everyone will have to wait until next year to see him extend his range.
"In games, we're looking for good shots, and, say, an 18-footer wouldn't be appropriate in our halfcourt offense," said Simmons, who regularly sticks his jumper from distance in warmups, as if merely to prove he can do so. "As our biggest guy, I shouldn't be way out there. I should be trying to score in the paint.
"When I get the chance, though, I work on (perfecting) a nice, decent- range jumper. "
Even if Simmons did not have the dexterity to put the ball in the basket from the top of a stepladder, or the wherewithal to rebound his own misses practicing alone in a schoolyard, he would remain one of Schneider's favorite people.
Theirs is a relationship that began because of basketball, but has gone way beyond, and flourished.
"He has been a close personal friend and I would hope my children would grow up to be like him," Schneider said. "Get ready, because I'm going to repeat that very often this season. That's from the heart, it really is. We have fun together. "
When Simmons made a steal and three-quarter-court drive for a breakaway dunk with 1:34 left, Southern appeared to be in great shape at 62-59.
But after matching turnovers, Smalls capped a wild sequence with an inside basket at 0:19, then recovered the ball when James Glass deflected Al Baur's inbounds pass. Smalls gave to guard Eric "Spud" Kegler (14 points, seven assists), whose miss on a drive was successfully followed by Glass.
Next, Baur (6-for-8, 14 points) fired a baseball pass the length of the court to lefthanded guard Marshall Taylor, who used his right hand to flip in a layup. Smalls was fouled by Clarence Jackson (12 points, seven rebounds) while maneuvering for a shot, but with the bonus not in effect, the Jaguars (led by forward David Scott, with 18 points, 7 rebounds, 5 steals) had to inbound from the right side.
As hard as they tried to shut him off, the Rams were still at Smalls' mercy when he went up to shoot.
A little less oomph and University City's fans would have exploded onto the court. Instead, they strolled on, pointing fingers at Southern's players and shouting the likes of, "You dudes are lucky. We had you. And you know we had you. "
"That was one of the best games I've played in in a while. Exciting," Simmons said. "Coach said we'd have to use two men to control Smalls, to front him and look for weakside help. We lost track of him a few times in the zone and that's when he was able to get in there for follows. We knew that was coming. All those guys crash the boards. "
Lionel Simmons can crash the boards, too. But his is an overall game, one that doesn't leave people bored.
Markieff Morris, Prep Charter, Class of 2007
PREP CHARTER GETS HELP FROM ITS
TWIN POWERS TO BEAT E&S
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Don't expect Markieff Morris to renounce
his citizenship in Twinsville anytime soon.
"I love everything about being a twin," he said.
OK, that about covers it . . .
Wait. Really? Everything?
"Pretty much," he said. "You always have somebody to hang out with. To do things with. It's a lot of fun. We say the same things at the same time. Finish each other's sentences. It's unbelievable. I'll be going to say a word and, boom, it'll come right out of him. "
Except that the 6-8, 210-pound Markieff is maybe 1 inch taller - thus, the nickname "Big Twin" - he and Marcus are identical.
Friday night, 8 o'clock, at Temple's Liacouras Center, they'll enjoy the same experience: trying to win a Public League championship against Central.
Markieff and Marcus are sophomores at Prep Charter, a fourth-year PL member from South Philly (now housed in new quarters at 24th and McKean). And last night at Saint Joseph's University, in a sloppy semifinal that was, frankly, hard to watch, they helped the Huskies down Engineering and Science, 69-55.
Markieff (No. 42) shot 5-for-11 and 3-for-6 for 13 points, grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds and recorded two apiece of assists, steals and blocked shots. Marcus (No. 41), who comes off the bench for first-year coach Dan Brinkley, managed seven points, three boards and three assists.
With family members and friends swirling around him at the edge of the court, Markieff talked about how excited he is to be headed to the Pub final and how comfortable he now feels at Prep Charter. He even made a funny.
"It was tough when we first got there because we didn't know anybody. Now we have groupies," he cracked.
The Morrises, who live near 15th and Erie, last year bounced from Simon Gratz to St. John Neumann and back to Gratz, though they never played varsity. Markieff said the twins are close with Brinkley because he coached them, like many of the Huskies, with the Hunting Park Warriors AAU team. He and Marcus view Brinkley as a second father, he added.
"He takes us to a lot of college games so we can see what we need to do to prepare for that level," Markieff said.
Rodney Green (19) and Jason Dogan (14) also scored in double figures for PC. Those guys also evenly divided eight assists. Fred Gresham (16) and Rodney Norris (12) topped E&S, which severely damaged its chances, not to mention its flow, with 17 first half turnovers.
The PA announcer will find himself challenged Friday. One of Central's starters is named - we kid you not - Marcus Morris.
"We're not related," PC's Marcus said. "But we're good friends with him. "
Markieff is 7 minutes older than his twin/best buddy and claims to be the leader of the twosome. But there was this time during third grade when Marcus was not real confident about a test he was supposed to take and . . .
"He talked me into switching classes with him," Markieff said. "But we had to switch back at lunchtime because somebody was gonna tell on us. When we got home, he told my mom [Angel] what we did. I don't know why he did that. Luckily, she thought it was funny. "
Meanwhile, Markieff said the only area where the twins really differ is in their rooting interests for pro teams. We'll limit things to football, for now.
"I like the Cowboys. He likes the Eagles," Markieff said.
Why don't you like the Eagles?
"They stink," Markieff said, laughing.
Rich Gannon, St. Joseph's Prep, Class of 1983
ST. JOE'S GETS ITS QUARTERBACKS WORTH
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Maintaining order in the huddle. Crouching over center. Surveying the defense. Calling the signals. Eventually, running the play.
Those duties were a relative snap for Rich Gannon, the present, near-future and possible long-range quarterback for St. Joseph's Prep. However, it wasn't easy to practice those duties during the week after replacing a highly popular captain.
Last Tuesday, coach Jack Branka rocked his team with the announcement that Gannon, a junior, would replace senior Matt Brannau at quarterback for a Catholic League Southern Division game with St. James, which yesterday produced a 22-0 victory for The Prep.
Branka could have told the players that the school had dropped football and the reception would have been warmer. As it was, there were fears of a palace revolt.
To understand, soak up some background.
Two years back, when The Prep was coached by Bill Brannau, Matt's dad and now the head man at St. John Neumann, Matt split time with Sean Rooney at quarterback before suffering a shoulder injury. He had been hoping to emerge as the full-time starter in '80. Instead, Branka installed the capable John Spahr at QB and, in a twist of irony, Brannau emerged as the most capable receiver.
THROUGH IT ALL, Matt kept his mouth shut and acted like each ball thrown his way was coated with $100 bills. He dived, took vicious hits and earned the respect of his teammates, who figured that 1981 would finally belong to Matt.
What the Hawklets didn't figure on was a 1-2 start lowlighted by the scoring of 14 points, although Brannau (7-for-12, 77 yards) surely was not to blame for last week's 27-7 disaster at Carroll.
" I wanted to give Rich a chance," said Branka , talking on eggs. " Matt was fine. I just wanted to see what Rich could do. Matty didn't let in 27 points against Carroll. Matty didn't fumble late in the Penn Charter game ( 7-0 loss ) . I just wanted to try something else. "
Gannon's main advantage over Brannau is mobility, which he showed on a third-quarter drive by sprinting for gains of 18 and 19 yards. His biggest drawback is a lack of experience, which he showed by failing to eat the ball late in the second quarter on a promising drive. The first of his two interceptions resulted.
Gannon (6-3, 178, still only 15 years old) passed 7-for-16 for 72 yards and gained 41 yards on eight carries, scoring the first two touchdowns on sneaks from the 1. Brannau (0-for-3) played most of the fourth quarter and drove the Hawklets to their final score, a one-yard run by leading rusher (16-100) and defensive whiz Joe Griffith.
AFTERWARD, RICH Gannon could hardly believe that two city reporters wanted an interview. He is, you realize, very uncomfortable with the whole situation.
" It's been tough," Rich said, also talking on eggs. " I've been pushing Matt. Matt's been pushing me. My feelings toward Matt are really strong. He's a great quarterback. It's a shame it has to come down to this.
" It's not only the people in the stands ( who'd prefer Brannau ) . It's everybody, even my teammates. It's something I have to overcome. At least I didn't lose my composure like in our scrimmages. There was lots of pressure. It was like a constant duel between us. "
Gannon's brother, John, was The Prep's acknowledged " best player" as a guard-linebacker for the City Title team of '77 and another brother, Paul, is a starter at offensive guard for Dougherty.
Rich first made an impression last season with booming, left-footed punts, although he throws right- handed. In all honesty, he does possess vast potential as a quarterback.
" Coach Branka told me that if we won and I played well, I'd play again next week," Gannon said. " All this has been tough on him , too. At the start of the year, it seemed like some people, including the coaches, favored me. Then Matty started doing well and the feeling seemed to be, 'Stick with him. ' Then the coaches decided that I should play.
" Now, I have to go home and think about what will come next. If I'm not starting, fine. When I get in, I'll try to do my best. "
And what's the latest from Branka ?
" I've got to go with Gannon as a starter again," Jack said. " But I don't know how this will go the rest of the season. If it turns out that we can't move the ball, we'll make the switch ( back to Brannau ) .
" I was concerned about Matty's reaction and the team's reaction. But after I talked to Matty and the team, I wasn't as worried. I want the kids to respond to Rich, that's all. And we have the type of kids who will do that. "
NOTES: The Prep's defensive line (ends Joe Given, Mike Irvine , tackles Brian Daly, Fran Grey , guards Dorian Hamilton, Jim Sweeney ) was outstanding, as St. James was limited to 46 yards . . . Daly and Givens combined to tackle gutty Tom Costa (6-for-18, 29 yards) for a third-quarter safety . . . Mike Sheldon gained 95 yards on 15 carries . . . Several Prep players lost money, jackets, wallets, etc., due to a locker room break-in . . . Marty Herman intercepted two passes.
Uhuru "Joby" Hamiter, Jules Mastbaum Tech, Class of 1991
MASTBAUM FINALLY ENDS FRANKFORD'S RIDE
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
They did it for all the carpenters in
Kensington, all the laborers in Logan, all the bakers in Bridesburg, all the
tailors in Tacony.
They even did it for men they had never met. Men who are dead.
Yesterday, after the football players of Jules Mastbaum Tech defeated Frankford, 26-7, in a Public League quarterfinal at Lincoln, ex-Panthers of all shapes, sizes, ages and hairlines stormed the playing surface to rejoice with coach John Murphy and two assistants, Ralph Ricapito and Adam Rolek, both of whom had once coached The 'Baum.
In time - not that he'd fully gained his composure - Murphy tried to pinpoint the win's significance.
"You have no idea what this means," he said, voice cracking. "Two teachers were telling me they kept spaces next to them in the stands for Mastbaum teachers who had died. They knew those guys were with us in spirit. "
Mastbaum has been playing Frankford since 1948. Before yesterday, the series stood at 0-31 and Mastbaum had often been clocked.
Murphy, knowing the pain of the Frankford series firsthand, having seen it in hundreds of players' eyes, had decided earlier in the week to tell his current team a white lie.
Mastbaum had beaten Frankford, he said. Twice, even.
"That's what I thought," said two-way end Uhuru " Joby " Hamiter . "But in school today, a friend of mine came around with the Daily News. It said how we'd never won. Phew, that came as a shock. That made me more hyped than I already was. I said, 'Time to get busy. ' "
Said quarterback-safety Marc Baxter: "When I saw the paper, it made me feel good. It was like, 'It never happened? Well, it's going to happen today. ' Now that it's over, it makes us feel even better. We just didn't win for ourselves today. We won for a lot of people. We achieved something that will go down in history.
"But you know what? It didn't hit me as hard as it hit some other people. I guess that's because I knew we were going to win. I guess that's because I never had any doubt. "
The 6-3, 225-pound Hamiter , who also stars in basketball, punctuated the win by recording sacks on the final two plays. The tackles were Hamiter 's sixth and seventh, but his largest contribution had taken place late in the third quarter.
Mastbaum had already scored twice since halftime, on a 59-yard pass from Baxter to wide receiver Gary Fooks and an 8-yard pass to fullback Jamie Jacobs. But the conversions had failed and Frankford, down 12-7, was hardly whipped.
But, on the second play from scrimmage, Hamiter recovered a fumble by quarterback Lawrence King at the Pioneers' 39. Junior tailback Barry Williams, silent to that point, finally got rolling and the 10th play from scrimmage produced touchdown No. 3, a 2-yard run by Williams (21 carries, 126 yards).
"The guy bobbled the ball. I just dove for it," Hamiter said of his recovery. "We knew they'd be trying to give to No. 37 (Damien Adams, who ran for 272 all-purpose yards, including 164 on returns) so that's why I was in there quick. "
Mastbaum's second half was a thing of beauty. Four possessions, four scores. Two touchdowns came off turnovers (Maurice Tucker's interception, Hamiter 's recovery), two came off long drives (66 yards, 91 yards). Baxter, a 6-1, 185-pounder who is Proposition 48 qualified, was outstanding.
His touchdown toss to Fooks was perfectly timed, and delivered. On Jacobs's scoring play, Baxter rolled to his right and patiently waited for someone, anyone, to break free. When Jacobs did, the ball was drilled. Later, Hamiter dropped a 15-yard touchdown pass and Baxter was just long with a 17-yard scoring try. No problem. On the next play, he found Fooks to wrap up the scoring.
Baxter, who also had a game-high 13 tackles, including nine solos, is receiving constant recruiting attention from Temple, but other schools have limited their pursuit to nondescript letters.
"Lord only knows why," Murphy said. "The kid's the real thing. "
Said Baxter: "The letters I get say, 'Keep up the good work. We're watching you. We'll be back with you later. ' The Temple people say, 'We know other schools will be after you. Will we still have a chance? ' "
In Mastbaum's previous seven games, Fooks had made two receptions for 24 yards.
"Gary was catching real good in practice," Baxter said, "but he was freezing up in the games. He talks like he's very confident, but the fact is, he was in a bad streak.
"At halftime I had some individual talks with the coaches. I told them what I thought we had to do. I said the only reason Frankford was winning was that they were hustling more than us. I said such-and-such plays would work if the guys ran good patterns, ran fast and I threw the ball well. Nothing was going to come easy, I knew that. "
But once it did, it was sweet.
"Some guy who used to play for Frankford lives around me," Hamiter said. ''He was talkin' all kinds of trash. He was saying how we hadn't played anybody good, how Frankford was waitin' on us, how Frankford was gonna kick our butts. I just laughed it off . . . But I'm thinking about that guy right now."
Paul "Snoop" Graham, Ben Franklin, Class of 1985
SNOOP HELPS BEN FRANKLIN DUMP DUNBAR
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Paul "Snoop" Graham was discussing the derivation of his nickname.
"My grandmother gave it to me," he said. "It goes back to when I was little. When the adults were having their little conversations, I was always snoopin' around, trying to listen. "
Yesterday, the prevalent sound in Temple's McGonigle Hall with less than a minute remaining in the championship game of the Pepsi Challenge Tournament was the tap, tap, tap of opportunity knocking, the opportunity for Ben Franklin to stun the No. 1 team - Dunbar of Baltimore, thus anointed by USA Today - in the country.
Snoop Graham 's ears, rest assuredly, work as well at age 17 as they did at 4 or 5.
Graham canned a 12-foot, in-the-lane jump shot on a pass from Ernie Roberts with 44 seconds remaining to give Franklin a 58-57 lead. Then, like all of his teammates and coaches, not to mention many of the estimated 2,800 fans, he breathed a huge sigh of relief when a last-second, off-balance 20-footer from beyond the top of the key by Dunbar superguard Kirk Lee (28 points, five assists) clanged off the rim.
Despite all the noise, you could hear a 40-game winning streak ending.
"That kid's a great shooter," Graham said, "but when I saw him go up and fade to one side, I didn't think it would have much of a chance to go in. When it came off the rim, all I could think was, 'That's it. It's over with. We beat 'em. '
"That's a great team. Make sure you say that. And the way I feel, every great team is entitled to lose once in a while. "
"It wasn't in our hands," said coach Ken Hamilton, whose team's only loss last season was to Dunbar in the championship of the Seagull Classic. "I still feel just as good about my kids if that shot goes in. I still look at my team the same way. A one-point game. It can go either way. I'm not jumping up and down now and I wouldn't be crying if the shot had gone in. "
Except for the ending, the final was almost an exact replica of Saturday's first-round game between Dunbar and Murrell Dobbins Tech.
Franklin took a first-quarter lead, milked it through the second and third and threatened to run away and hide early in the fourth, as a drive by productive sub Everick "Sugar Shack" Shackelford made it 56-47 with 6:30 left.
A few turnovers, missed shots and sweaty palms later, there was Dunbar, taking a 57-56 lead as Lee swished a left-baseline jumper at 1:41. Thereafter, Franklin 's Ray Robinson was called for an offensive foul at 1:20 and Lee missed a one-and-one, with Franklin 's Will Bolds grabbing the rebound, at 1:00.
Following Graham 's field goal, the teams took a torch to the time-honored book on late-game strategy.
After calling time at 0:14, a breakdown led to Dunbar holding for the very last shot. The book says, when you're trailing, you shoot early enough so you still have a chance at a follow.
"We wanted to split the zone and get it low to (6-9) Terry Dozier, then have him shoot and crash for the rebound," said Dunbar coach Bob Wade. ''Really, we were supposed to initiate something off the inbounds pass. But we made an extra pass and wasted six seconds. "
Meanwhile, Hamilton elected to play a 3-2 zone. The book says you play man- to-man in such situations, so no one gets a chance to throw in a lucky shot unattended.
Don't get upset. Hamilton had things covered.
"We told our guys to look in their area for No. 23 (Karl James) and No. 15 (Lee), that one of them would most likely take the shot," Hamilton said. ''We said, 'Play them strong, don't foul and make sure we get the rebound. ' "
On the rebound, meanwhile, was how Franklin gained the services of the 6-5 Graham , a smooth forward who stays within himself better than any player in the city.
Basketball-wise, Graham was a budding sensation as early as his sophomore year at Olney. Now, after deciding to make a deeper commitment and receiving, he says, better counseling since his September transfer to Franklin , his academics are falling into place.
If Snoop comes through on his end, the likes of Ohio University, Connecticut, Detroit, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and Virginia Commonwealth - others certainly will join the hunt - are ready and willing to offer a scholarship.
Graham 's 19 points came on 9-for-15 sniping and gave him 41 for the tournament (19-for-34). He also grabbed six rebounds (for 13 total), dished two assists and danced off with MVP honors. Check that. He shuffled off and tournament officials almost had to make him take the trophy.
"I'm proud of how I played, but we won as a team," Graham said. "You don't beat anyone, especially not the No. 1 team in the nation, with one guy. "
One guy who was quieter than normal scoring-wise yesterday, partially through his own doing, was Jerome "Pooh" Richardson, Franklin 's UCLA-bound lead guard. Pooh took only five shots from the floor, making four, en route to a 10-point effort.
Ah, but was he ever superb otherwise, distributing 11 assists and committing no - as in none - turnovers.
"Pooh was too much of a floor general today," Hamilton said, laughing. ''I wanted him to shoot more. We were arguing all day. Heck with that floor-general stuff. He can carry that a little too far. "
How far will yesterday's win carry Franklin ? Only to tomorrow, sad to say, for the resumption of Public League wars.
As nice as it was, the time was early January, not mid-March.
Raheem Brock, Murrell Dobbins Tech, Class of 1997
DOBBINS' BROCK FOLLOWING IN DAD'S YARDAGE MARKER
The extra young Raheem Brock figured his father was
merely his father.
He figured every dad had a separate room for trophies and mementoes and could pop NFL game tapes into a VCR and comment, "Now on this play, son, I . . . "
Raheem Brock, a 6-3, 235-pound junior, is a blossoming stud at Murrell Dobbins Tech as a tight end, outside linebacker and punter. His father is Temple product Zachary Dixon, who was a running back and return man for the Broncos, Giants, Eagles, Colts and Seahawks in his NFL career (1979-85).
"When you're little," Brock said, "you don't really realize. But when I got older, I could understand things more and appreciate what he did and how hard he had to work to get there."
With 1,153 yards in 1978, Dixon is the No. 2 one-season rusher in Temple's Division I-A history (dating to '71). In the pros he produced 1,099 yards from scrimmage (732 rushing, 367 receiving) and added a whopping 2,639 on returns.
Yesterday, Brock blocked like a madman and was a dominating presence on defense as Dobbins squashed host Simon Gratz, 27-0, in a Public League game.
"I think I can do the same as my father - get into college and make the pros. I'm going to try, at least," Brock said. "After I retire, I want to own my own business. I'd like to have something that would keep kids off the streets, like an arcade or an entertainment center. Even if I don't make the pros, I want to do that."
Dixon now lives in Germantown, Md., where he's a sales manager for an electronics store and a personal trainer. His son, who also lives in Germantown (the section of Philly), is one of his projects, both in person and via long distance.
"We talk about once a week," said Brock. "I tell him about my games and he gives me suggestions. But more than that, he talks about keeping my head in my schoolwork and staying away from the girls. He says there are people out there that will be jealous of what I'm doing, and will try to bring me down, and not to let it happen.
"I try to listen and do what he tells me. I want to be a good role model for the kids on the way up. There aren't enough around."
Teaming with center Octavius Blocker, guards Marc Skinner and Darnell White and tackles Maurice Childs and Troy Coleman, Brock helped Roland Whiting (12 carries, 149 yards), Yorel Prosser, Terah DeLarge and Kimbee Monsanto run for a touchdown apiece. He also provided a highlight by rampaging for 13 yards on a reverse, causing the substitute Mustangs to yell "Mooooooose!" in delight.
On defense, Brock made eight tackles, including two for losses. Otherwise, he was rocking the blockers so linebacker Lamont Lister, among others, could move in for the kill.
"I love taking on fullbacks," Brock said. "I like making them scared, so they run around me."
Raheem, whose cousin, Raymond Feamster, is a promising junior at Jules Mastbaum Tech, has lived most of his life in Philadelphia with his mother, Patricia Brock. But he spent the fifth grade with his father and still heads to Maryland for summers and extended school breaks.
"I show him tapes of our games and he gives me help," Brock said. "Since he knows about training, he gives me workouts. They're hard, too. Bench presses, curls, squats, exercises for my stomach muscles . . . lots of things. I've been trying to improve my speed."
Coach Doug Macauley said Brock was one of the top performers in Dobbins's weight room in the offseason, increasing his bench press from 170 to 270 pounds.
"The kid doesn't realize how much potential he has," Macauley said. ''Sometimes he doesn't do exactly what he should (techniquewise), but still makes plays because of his size and power.
"We're hoping he's going to be a scholarship athlete. He has good grades and he's a nice kid. He's doing what he needs to do. The one thing I want to see is improved speed. Once that happens, look out."
Said Brock: "My mom follows my football career. She thinks I'm a real good player. Me? I think I'm just all right. I can get better."
Cuttino "Cat" Mobley, Cardinal Dougherty, Class of 1992
BACK-ALLEY RIM STARTS "CAT" ON NEW LIFE
The heel is all that's left of the back-alley rim that
helped to launch Cuttino "Cat" Mobley's budding basketball career.
The hoop lasted for three years and untold numbers of successful jump shots. Then . . .
"I started dunking as a sophomore," Mobley said. "One day it broke. My stepfather (Ben Thomas) was saying, 'I'm not buying another one.' I probably could have talked him into it. But I let it go. I had some other places to play."
Assuming he meets the requirements of Proposition 48, Mobley next season will do his playing on the Division I level. For now, the 6-4 Cardinal Dougherty swingman is torching assorted Catholic League defenses.
Yesterday, Mobley shot 9-for-12 (two three-pointers) and 4-for-5 for 24 points and added 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 9 steals as the Cardinals slapped host Archbishop Wood, 72-55, in a game where the spread soared as high as 27 points.
And to think. Basketball perhaps would have missed out on all this talent were it not for a conversation Mobley had with his father, Donald Easley, as an eighth-grader.
"I was a football player for Incarnation-St. Ambrose," said Mobley, who lives near Third Street and Roosevelt Boulevard. "Played wide receiver and outside linebacker. I didn't play any basketball. Can't even say why.
"But then one day I was talking with my pop. He said my mom (Jackie Mobley) had played basketball at William Penn. When I came home, I talked to her about it. I asked my stepfather to buy a basket. I wanted to try it.
"We were always out back. There was a guy named Emilio Colon and some guy we called 'Heady.' My mom even came out to play. She tried to help me with my defense, which was pretty shabby."
Mobley, a lefthander, is renowned for being a dead-eye, stand-still shooter with zone-busting ability. But he also makes quick moves to create his own shots and he has a knack for defensive rebounding. His man-to-man defense needs work, but his long arms and anticipatory skills make him a master at deflecting passes in zones and trapping presses.
St. Joseph's, St. Francis (Pa.), Iona, Duquesne and St. Peter's are keeping tabs on Mobley as a wing guard prospect, and the interest will probably increase beginning today, when college coaches are again allowed to observe games and practices.
Mobley has not yet surpassed 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test. But he did score 730 last year on the Preliminary SAT.
"I'm consistent in scoring and rebounding right now, but my defense and dribbling have to get better," Mobley said. "When my confidence level is high, I can pass pretty well. Confidence in your ability to score is so important. It leads to all the other parts of your game."
Mobley scored nine points as Dougherty roared to an 18-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. Every Cardinal performed well through the first 24 minutes. Junior guard Elson DeVan (15) and senior substitute forwards Jerry Ricca (10) and Jay Pierce (nine) helped Mobley with the scoring, while the 6-5 Kearney twins, Ed and Dan, combined for eight rebounds. DeVan (six assists) and Dave Black (three) distributed the ball.
When Mobley is not playing basketball, he can be found shooting pool or bowling.
"Yeah, bowling. I like it," he said. "I go with Jay Pierce and Jerry Ricca. I can score about 130 . . . Well, that's on my lucky days."
His other primary interest is one that he shares with most high-school boys.
"We go on some little missions," he said, with a laugh, "where we search for girls."
Bob File, Father Judge, Class of 1994
(This was written after Bob posted a noteworthy win in his
FIRST WIN A MOMENT HE'LL KEEP ON FILE
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
File this one under Hard to Believe.
Bob File , a righthanded reliever out of Father Judge High and Philadelphia University (nee Textile), made his major league debut Saturday for the Toronto Blue Jays and wound up tying a ML record: Shortest stint while earning a win (one-third of an inning).
Figuring he would let him get his arm wet in a no-pressure situation, manager Buck Martinez summoned File with two outs, nobody on base and the Blue Jays facing a 4-1 deficit against Kansas City.
The 6-4, 215-pound File threw four pitches, retired Hector Ortiz on a broken-bat grounder to shortstop and then took a seat in the dugout as Toronto batted in the bottom of the ninth.
Lo and behold, little by little, the Jays posted a four-spot and File wound up with a victory!
Thanks to Carlos Delgado, whose bloop single to shallow right-center scored Raul Mondesi with the winning run, File secured the game ball. Thanks to Mondesi, he received a shaving cream pie in the face while doing a postgame radio interview in the dugout.
Better yet, all Saturday night, File could relive the moment and picture things exactly as they'd happened whenever he wanted. For now, he is living in the hotel inside the Skydome and his room overlooks the playing field.
Does it get any better?
"It was crazy. The whole thing was crazy,'' he said, laughing.
File was thinking about everybody and everything as he walked to the mound. Family members. Judge people. Textile people. Making good pitches. Not embarrassing himself. . .
"It's mostly a blur, honestly,'' File said. "I do remember looking at the crowd and thinking it was so many more people [26,024] than I'd ever pitched in front of. I was trying to calm myself down. I was pretty nervous. It was a good nervous, but still. I found myself shaking. Yeah, literally. ''
File twice shook off catcher Darrin Fletcher before throwing his first pitch.
"I think about that now and its, 'Oh, man, what was I doing?' '' he said, laughing. "First, he wanted a fastball away, but I didn't want to throw that. I threw a first-pitch fastball away to [Richard] Hidalgo in a spring-training game and he hit a three-run homer. Then he wanted a slider and I shook that off. Then he called for a fastball in. That's how I like to start guys off. But you should have seen it. The pitch was way up. Almost over his head. Just an adrenaline rush, I guess. Then I settled down and got the out. ''
As the Blue Jays rallied, File's new teammates began kidding him about being a vulture.
"It didn't look so good there for a minute,'' he said, referring to his chances of getting a win. "Delgado was down in the count; at 1-2, I'm pretty sure. Then he got the bloop hit and. . .I was the first one at home plate greeting Mondesi. ''
File was recalled last Wednesday from the Tennessee Smokies (Knoxville), of the Double A Southern League.
For two consecutive days, while the Smokies were playing at West Tennessee (Jackson), File was told by manager Rocket Wheeler he couldn't pitch on orders from Toronto general manager Dave Stewart. Feeling frustrated, File called his agent and tried to find out more information. The agent said a Blue Jays pitcher - Lance Painter, as it turned out - was about to go on the disabled list.
"Our game [April 11] was in the afternoon and Wheeler said to keep my cell phone with me,'' File said. "I went to do a workout at a gym across from the hotel. The battery must have been low, or something. I never heard it ring. But when I checked the messages, it was there. 'Give me a call. You're going up. ' I was so excited. The first thing I did was call my parents. ''
Saturday in Mayfair, Bob and Sally File were listening to a broadcast via the Internet.
File is a closer by trade, but likely will pitch long relief with the Blue Jays. How long he stays, he figures, will be up to him.
"If I pitch well, I'll be here,'' he said. "I had a shot to make the team out of camp and just missed. Because the weather in [Triple A] Syracuse can be so rough this time of year, with temperatures in the 20s and even some snow, they sent me to Knoxville so I'd get in my work.
"Maybe I am here just until Painter comes off the DL. Maybe not. I know guys have to pay their dues. If I'm only here a short time, I'll be thankful for the opportunity and work just as hard to get back. ''
File's story was amazing long before he made his major league debut.
He was strictly a position player at Judge and through his first two seasons at Textile. He dabbled in closing as a junior, then did full double duty as a senior. When he wasn't playing third base - he led all of Division II with a .542 batting average - he went 4-2 with a 4.55 earned run average as a starting pitcher. Toronto drafted him in the 19th round in 1998 and told him to put his bats into mothballs. By last season, he was starring as a closer for Tennessee and then Syracuse.
"When you're a 19th-rounder, to advance you have to put up some serious numbers,'' he said. "How'd it happen? Hard work and luck. ''
Bob Sr., who bought a satellite dish last year to better follow his son's career "and because I'm a baseball nut anyway,'' was also walking on air Saturday night.
"We're pretty excited and proud,'' he said. "Bob works hard and is determined to do well. He goes to the gym all the time. If he doesn't succeed, it won't be from lack of working.''
Matt Walsh, Germantown Academy, Class of 2002
FLORIDA WINS OVER GA GUARD WALSH
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
University of Florida basketball has earned the Mary Anne Walsh Seal of Approval.
Good thing, or the Gators never would have gotten her son.
Matt Walsh , a 6-6, 190-pound junior and big-time wing-guard prospect at Germantown Academy, knew for a while he wanted to make an oral commitment to Florida.
But you know how things go in most families: Dad and kids only think they're in charge. Mom runs the show.
"Overall, my wife and I would would have preferred seeing Matt stay local," Mike Walsh, a screenwriter for TV and films, said yesterday. "My wife, especially, had some reservations about him going that far away because Matt is her baby.
"It wasn't that she was dead set against it. She just wanted to know Matt would be taken care of. I think the coaches sensed that, that they needed to 'recruit' my wife, too. "
And they did it. In style.
During the meat of an early afternoon news conference, Matt mentioned that he likes coach Billy Donovan and the Gators' approach to guard play (fire away whenever you want!), and that the chances to develop pro-level skills are pretty high.
He did not, however, mention the particulars of his recent two-day unofficial visit to Florida, which he made with his parents.
For that info, we go to Mike.
"Literally, except for the time he slept, Billy Donovan spent those whole two days with us," he said. "We did the usual things - tour the campus, meet with the academic people, etc. - but what really sold Mary Anne was the night we had in their arena.
"Right in the locker room, there was a catered dinner for us and all the coaches, the trainer, even the strength guy. Also there were all their wives and children. The kids were running around, having fun, jumping on laps. It was great to see them interact as people. You could tell there was a real family atmosphere, that they all got along, that it wasn't something they threw together trying to impress us. It looked like they get together often.
"One of the things Mary Anne hung her hat on, something that made her give Matt her blessing later that night, was seeing Brett Nelson, who even looks a little like Matt and plays the same shooter's role, come into the room and bond with everybody. He didn't have a look on his face that said, 'Hey, are you doing this just for him? ' You could tell it was something they did often. "
Later, the Walshes walked to center court in the arena. The regular lights went dark, spotlights came on and the Gators' regular PA man began announcing the starting lineup.
Guess who completed the lineup, and whose name was greeted by a deafening roar.
"Plus, Matt's name was flashing on the screen," Mike said. "It was like something you see in the movies. "
Compared with many others, Florida entered the Matt Walsh Sweepstakes late.
As far as Matt knows, the Gators did not see him in person until they caught back-to-back games in mid-February in a tournament in Trenton, N.J. Soon thereafter, they returned to the area to watch him work out.
"They recruited me the hardest and showed the most interest," Walsh said.
Walsh last season averaged 20.1 points and was one of the main reasons the Patriots shot 41.6 percent from three-point land. Many think Walsh could bust zones for any collegiate program in the country. Whether he'll do well against high-level, man-to-man attention and blossom into a factor in other areas of the game will, as he acknowledged, be totally determined by his work ethic.
Like fellow GA junior Lee Melchionni, a 6-7 forward who last Thursday orally committed to Duke, Walsh held his media session in a student lounge.
Maybe 20 minutes beforehand, he said: "I'm kind of nervous. I wish I could just say, 'I'm going to Florida. Thanks for coming. Bye. ' "
He did fine, however, even though the room was hot, maybe 60 people - students, school employees, friends, family members - watched, and his forehead was covered with perspiration.
Villanova, Virginia and Syracuse were in Walsh's personal Final Four, but he hinted hard that Maryland, not Florida, ultimately would have been his choice had assistant Billy Hahn remained on coach Gary Williams' staff. Hahn is the new coach at La Salle University.
When asked why he decided so early, Walsh said: "If I wasn't ready, I wouldn't do it. But Florida is definitely where I want to go, and I know it's going to be the best place for me.
"Coach Donovan is the biggest factor. He spent more time with me than the other coaches combined. I like his staff, too. They don't have anyone over 35 years old. They can relate to the players. "
At some point, of course, Donovan could move on. Is Walsh, still stung after watching Hahn depart Maryland, concerned?
"After hearing what he had to say, I really don't think he's going to leave," he said. "Hopefully, he'll still be there."
Rasheed Wallace, Simon Gratz, Class of 1993
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
WALLACE'S EFFORTS LEAD GRATZ TO LEAGUE SEMIFINAL VICTORY
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Rasheed Wallace and Jason Lawson are
buddies, but business is business.
When the 6-11 Wallace and Simon Gratz met the 6-10 Lawson and Olney in a Public League basketball semifinal yesterday at the Civic Center, the former player was not about to go easy on the latter.
"Has to be that way," Wallace said, smiling. "Once you get on that court, it's different. "
Three minutes after halftime, when Gratz (30-0) was well on its way to a perfunctory 64-44 win, Wallace took a long pass from junior guard Shawn ''Reds" Smith and prepared to dunk. He then got wacked from behind by Lawson.
As the referee called the personal, Wallace whirled around with a flourish and flashed three fingers in Lawson's face.
"That's three!" he crowed.
"That was the game plan," Wallace said. "We wanted to get him out of the game. Make him sit down. I wanted it to be an early-bird special. "
Lawson was limited to 24 minutes by foul trouble and departed with 2:30 remaining after posting nine points (finalizing his career total at 1,270), five rebounds and three blocked shots. Had he played the whole 32 minutes, and had been allowed to wear sneakers with 8-inch-thick soles, Olney's fate would have been no different.
Gratz did not fight fair. In addition to Wallace, the Bulldogs came at Lawson with 6-8 Rondell Turner, 6-7 Lynard Stewart and 6-4 leaper Alem Watson while earning a spot in Sunday's championship game against Franklin Learning Center (1 p.m., at the Civic Center).
"Jason was outmanned," Gratz coach Bill Ellerbee said. "We kind of surrounded him every time he got the ball. That was no indication of what kind of player he is. I'd take him. "
Said Wallace: "We tried to wear him down. We tried to keep throwing different guys at him. "
At the other end, Wallace avoided being blanketed simply by stepping away from the basket. And, if necessary, by stepping farther away.
Believe it or not, Wallace played part of the game at small forward and showed why he has created such a national stir. Only one of his six field goals was a dunk. He added three garden-variety jump shots and - get this - a pair of three-pointers from a step beyond the arc directly facing the basket.
"I was playing the wing," Wallace said. "When Rondell and Lynard are in the game, Mr. Ell likes to put me out there because I have a little better feel for what we're supposed to do on offense.
"Mr. Ell always says to us, 'If you're open and you've got a shot, take it. ' I'm just like everyone else. "
"When you've got a 6-8 guy and a 6-7 guy to do the rebounding for you," Lawson said, "you can go outside like that. He showed some good range. "
Added 6-5 Alonzo Triplin: "We were trying to front him and back him. Then he went outside and stuck jumpers, including 'threes. ' It was frustrating. I appreciate the fact that I got to play against him, though. "
Smith, who finished with 11 points and five assists, was not amazed that Wallace drained the "threes. "
"Rasheed is known (to us) as being a great shooter," he said. "He's got all aspects of the game.
"Jason is a good player, but Rasheed - hey, he's on another level. The highest. He's got the whole, total package. "
In all, Wallace shot 6-for-8 from the floor and 9-for-12 at the line for 23 points. He also grabbed eight rebounds and rejected four shots.
Suspense was nonexistent. Lawson sank a pair of free throws 1:54 into the game to create a 2-2 tie, but forward Jamahal Redmond scored 54 seconds later and the Bulldogs never looked back. The halftime score was 31-13. The spread hit 30 points in the third quarter, peaked at 31 with 5:58 left and was still riding high at 30 with 1:22 left before the Trojans (19-5) scored 12 in a row.
In Gratz 's locker room, Ellerbee congratulated his players on earning the school's fifth consecutive trip to the championship game, but was not exactly ecstatic.
"Some of us were horrible," he said. "That last quarter did not look good. We'll be off tomorrow, then Tuesday you'll get your punishment" in the form of a difficult practice.
Groans were widespread.
For Lawson, the games are over. He still must choose between Villanova, La Salle, Georgia Tech, Virginia and Nevada-Las Vegas.
Last week, he said he wanted to play with Wallace and that the odds were 60-40 that he would remain at home. Villanova is one of the four schools still alive for Wallace, along with Temple, Georgetown and North Carolina.
Lawson reiterated that he intends to delay his decision until the spring signing period, which begins April 14.
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Wallace says he is not going to Villanova before the start of the signing period. Would Lawson still give the Wildcats strong consideration?
"I don't know what would happen . . . Maybe," he said. "If Rasheed doesn't go there, it's not like I'll panic and say, 'What do I do now? ' He's his own man. I have to be my own man, too. I have to do what's best for Jason Lawson."
Scott Paxson, Roman Catholic, Class of 2001
FOR PAXSON, SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
When he first claimed a spot in the public eye, Scott Paxson , football player, gave off an odor.
Not because he couldn't play. Because of what he had to do to play, and the effect it had on noses far and wide.
In October 1998, Paxson was a sophomore at Roman Catholic High, and the Cahillites were in their first season of practicing each day at River Field, southeast of the Art Museum. One problem: There was no clubhouse. The players changed into and out of their gear pretty much right out in the open, and carried everything from home to school to the field and back again in gigantic duffel bags.
Paxson mentioned that one morning he opened his bag to find that his parents, Jeff and Lynn, had mixed among his pads and shirts and socks a half-dozen air fresheners that people hang from rearview mirrors.
"People still bring that up," Paxson said, laughing. "I can't believe we used to get dressed right over there. We froze [in late November]. We'd get done practice and there'd be no light. The bags would all be in a pile and the coaches would be digging through them. 'No. 80! Paxson! Here's yours! ' "
Much has changed in two years for Roman in general and for Paxson very much in particular.
River Field has a wonderful clubhouse. Roman is the defending Catholic League Red Division champion. Paxson is bound for Penn State.
"Never did I think that a big-time school like Penn State would look at me for football. Never in my life," he said, grinning. "What a surprise! Awesome, huh? "
Mostly. But the Nittany Lions are 2-5. . .
"I know. And I'm getting it good," Paxson said. "Most of the people in my neighborhood [O and Hunting Park, in Juniata] and at Roman are Notre Dame fans. They're always saying, 'Your team ain't lookin' too good. . .Did you see Notre Dame? They won again. '
"They're struggling, I know that," he continued, talking about the Nittany Lions. "It hurts, too, because I already feel like I'm part of the team. In the years to come, I'm hoping we'll be back up there. Win a national championship. "
Paxson, sculpted at 6-5, 240 pounds, runs 40 yards in 4.7 seconds. His main positions are defensive end and tight end, but he occasionally lines up at wideout. Yes, wideout.
"That's decent," he said. "We started that in a summertime seven-on-seven passing league. They'd put a little 5-7 cornerback on me and I'd do a fade or slant for a TD. The coaches would say, 'I think we're going to keep that for the season. That's looking real nice. '
"When we use it now, even if I don't get the ball, it makes the other team send somebody big out there to cover me. And then, on the other side, we have Joe McCourt, who I feel is the best player in the league. "
Paxson and McCourt go way back as best buddies. They starred together for Ascension/Holy Innocents, where they were coached by first-year Roman coach Jim Murphy. They always had dreams, big dreams.
"We always said how we'd go to a small-time school, then work like crazy and make it to the pros the way Jerry Rice did from that school [Mississippi Valley State] nobody ever heard of," Paxson said. "But look what happened. I'm going to Penn State, and Joe is getting attention from good schools, too" at the Division I-A and I-AA level.
Murphy has known Paxson for eight years.
"I always knew he'd be good," Murphy said. "I didn't know he'd be 6-5, 240 good. I'm not Carnak from the old 'Tonight Show. ' Scott had a growth spurt from grade school to high school that was shocking. "
After Murphy moved up from defensive coordinator to replace Danny Algeo (now at Phoenixville) as coach last winter, he started sending out highlight tapes for Paxson. Coaches loved the way Paxson blocked, caught, ran. They loved even better the way he used his upper-body strength and quick hands to, as Murphy called it, "manipulate" offensive linemen.
West Virginia was first to offer a scholarship.
"Coach Murphy said, 'Once one does, they all will. ' He was right," Paxson said. "It was Penn State and then Syracuse and then Ohio State and then Wisconsin. I couldn't believe it. I was going, 'These are teams I watch on Saturdays. I could be playing for one of them!? ' Incredible.
"Even before the offers came, I was thinking about who I'd like to play for. I've always been a Philly guy through and through. I know Penn State's not in Philly, but it's considered a hometown team. If someone asked me which pro team I'd like to play for, I'd say 'Eagles!' right away.
"I was up there [State College] five times last summer for camps, tours, the Blue-White game. When I'd close my eyes, I'd visualize myself wearing the blue and white. I saw everything as a good fit. It didn't make sense to wait to make a decision. "
Paxson said he was quite nervous when he sat down to talk with coach Joe Paterno.
"I guess he could see that," he said. "He told a joke right away. He had me and my family cracking up. "
Paxson is one of five returning full-time starters for the Cahillites, now 3-3 overall after Friday night's 26-21 win over Cardinal O'Hara. The others are McCourt (running back, outside linebacker, defensive back, kicker), Bill McCafferty (nose guard), Dan Pringle (defensive tackle) and Jonathan "Turbo" Tarvin (running back-defensive back). Ryan Brody (guard) and Bryan Donohoe (defensive tackle) also started for part of last season.
To an extent, Paxson is also an assistant coach.
"If he's momentarily out of a drill," Murphy said, "you see the younger kids looking to him for pointers. "
At Penn State, Paxson could wind up at tight end, defensive end or linebacker.
"I love having the ball in my hands, and blocking," he said. "I also like hitting people on defense, making big plays. I'll be OK with anything they ask me to do. "
Brent Grimes, Northeast, Class of 2001
GRIMES PROPELS VIKINGS OVER KING
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Brent Grimes sometimes causes more trouble for teammates than he does for opponents.
That's because his moves on football fields are too spectacular, too entertaining, too amazing to watch without drawing an exuberant reaction.
Grimes, a 5-8, 165-pound senior, stars as a halfback, return man and part-time wideout (and cornerback) for Northeast High.
He looks even better on tape. Therein lies the problem.
"A couple times," Grimes said, "our coach [Harvey "Brew" Schumer] has gotten mad at us for making too much noise, or laughing, at my good plays. He'll cut the thing off and yell, 'Be quiet! We're trying to learn from this! Stop messing around! '
"Two times, he cut the thing off and never put it back on. He kicked us out of the room. "
"It's not just for my stuff," he said. "Sometimes, we get in trouble because we go nuts - big oohs and aahs - over really hard hits. "
Yesterday, Grimes touched the ball eight times as Northeast dumped visiting Martin Luther King, 34-6, in a nonleague game. His output: 82 yards, three touchdowns.
Grimes rushed six times for 55 yards and two TDs, turned a lone reception into 17 yards and a score and returned the opening kickoff for 10 yards.
His first TD might be the best candidate to end Monday's tape session early. Grimes started to run to his left, found nothing, then dashed maybe 15 yards straight across the line of scrimmage before turning upfield and scoring in the right corner of the end zone.
Meanwhile, the best candidate on the defensive side to wreak havoc in the tape session was a teeth-rattling, full-body pop by impressive junior Darien "Party" Hardy.
Hardy is Grimes' backfield partner. He rushed nine times for 46 yards. The Vikings' other TDs went to Noel Nation on 1-yard quarterback sneaks.
For King, junior Donald Jefferson rushed 20 times for 135 yards and a TD. Aaron Blount made 14 tackles.
"I know I'm one of two good running backs on this team," Grimes said. "So, I understand why I don't get the ball more and that coach likes to keep things pretty even. When I do get it, I try to make the most of it, make it something special.
"In practice, coach said he saw that I had good hands. He's trying to use me more at wideout now. The thing is, I can't go out there just when they know they're going to throw it to me, because that tips things off. It didn't much matter today, because [the TD catch] was the only time I went out there. "
When pressed, Grimes said his most spectacular move of the season came vs. Frankford (in a game CN8 televised).
"It was an off-tackle run," he said. "I broke into the secondary, and the safety came over. I faked like I was going to go to the outside. Instead, I cut it inside, the safety got his feet tangled. . .and I scored. "
Grimes, who lives in West Oak Lane, maintains a B-minus classroom average and has scored 1,120 on the SAT. Like tight end-linebacker Tony Fardella, Grimes is being eyed by Penn and has attended several games this season as an invited guest.
"I'm getting mail contact from other schools, but nobody else is giving me the kind of attention I'm getting from Penn," he said. "If I could go there, that would be nice. They say it's a real hard academic school, but if you apply yourself, you can do it. I don't have a clue what I want to major in, though. Guess I need to start thinking about it.
"For football, the coaches tell me I'll need to hit the weights. I'll need to be 10 to 20 pounds heavier to play in college. "
Burt Grossman, Archbishop Carroll, Class of 1985
HARD-WORKING CARROLL SHUTS OUT BONNER
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
There's never an Archbishop Carroll football practice in which Burt Grossman 's ever-active tongue doesn't play as much of a part as do his anvil- like arms and tree-like legs.
It's the week after Carroll defeats West Catholic and the day before the game against winless Roman Catholic. Those facts don't faze coach Kevin Clancy, who makes the players stay much later than usual for extra conditioning.
"Burt's the team jokester. And he always lets us know when he thinks we're practicing too much," Clancy said. "That day Burt said, 'What would have happened if we'd lost? ' "
"We didn't want to look past Roman, but they were - what was it? - 0-5," Grossman said. "But whoever heard of a five-hour practice, including films and everything, on the day before a game? On some 'off days,' he gets six hours out of us. He thinks we're still in (preseason) camp. "
As he was talking, Burt Grossman 's tongue was lodged in his cheek. At this point, if Kevin Clancy called for a 10-hour practice, Grossman would probably hound him to make it 11.
As Grossman and mates have come to realize, "hard work pays off" isn't the king of cliches for nothing.
Yesterday, on a day when an ice-cream vendor could have made enough money to retire for life, Carroll melted previously unbeaten Monsignor Bonner, 13-0, at Upper Darby High.
Bonner's offense moved in two gears - slow-motion and no-motion - while collecting 39 yards total offense and five first downs. The Friars also were victimized by eight turnovers (two fumbles, six interceptions).
The 6-6, 255-pound Grossman, a cousin of former Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Randy Grossman and one of the area's more sought-after players, had one of the thefts and occupied himself otherwise wreaking all kinds of tackle-making and/or block-shedding havoc. He also made spot appearances at offensive tackle.
"For me to say Burt's an outstanding player is foolish; anyone who's seen him knows that," Clancy said. "We had a kid last year, Jim Costalas, who played that position (wide-side-of-field defensive tackle) as well as it could be played. But Burt has been outstanding. "
Better than Costalas, now at Temple?
"I don't like comparisons, but that's kind of what I'm saying," Clancy admitted.
Here's something else he admitted: "I always thought Burt would be a really good player, but I don't know if I thought he'd be this good. "
Grossman, who is also the Catholic League shot put recordholder (60 feet, 3 inches), has received mail from every college football program that can still afford the price of a stamp. Temple, West Virginia, Maryland, Syracuse and North Carolina have paid particular attention.
"I'm not giving that much thought," Grossman said. "I guess I'll stay in this half of the country, though. East or South. Whether I stay with track will depend on the school. I've always liked football better. "
Steve Corr (three), John Dougherty and Bill Murphy were the Patriots' other interceptors. Mike Hofer, who also blocked a punt, and Vince Sposato recovered the fumbles. Scoring came from Don O'Brien (23- and 43-yard field goals) and Mike Joyce (4-yard pass from Brian Corrigan).
Wherever the action was, Grossman wasn't far removed.
"If teams don't run at him, he can catch them with back-side pursuit," Clancy said. "The big thing is the way he runs. He's just under 4.8 in the 40 and he runs on every snap. You can tell he enjoys playing. It's infectious. The other guys sense it and it makes them play better, too. "
As Grossman readily will admit, his body isn't the only thing that's matured since he started for Carroll as a sophomore, after making a late- summer transfer from Lower Merion.
"I used to be an individual player; that doesn't work out," he said. ''That happened to a lot of us last year. We came back with almost the same team that won the Southern Division in 1982. But we played as individuals and ended up 3-7.
"Now we're 6-2, 5-0 in the league. Nobody on this team doesn't like anybody else. You have a team like that, you should always do well. "
Only on rare occasions, meanwhile, did Grossman lock horns with Bonner's all-universe candidate, tackle-defensive end Ed Monaghan.
"I saw him down at Temple the other day for a recruiting thing," Grossman said. "We were busting on each other about the game. We've been friends for a while because our fathers are friends.
"The papers were building up the matchup, but we both knew it wouldn't happen because Ed plays the right tackle and I usually wind up on the opposite side because that's the wide side. He's a great offensive lineman. It was fun going against him those few times."
Blair Thomas, Frankford, Class of 1985
THOMAS RUNS BY CEMETERIES, LINCOLN
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
The western ends of Lehigh and Hunting Park avenues in North Philadelphia partially form the boundaries of three cemeteries - Odd Fellows, Mount Vernon and Mount Peace.
We had to look up those names on a map because Frankford High senior running back Blair Thomas couldn't remember them. He does have vivid memories, however, of what it's like to run around them.
Lehigh to Ridge, Ridge to Hunting Park, Hunting Park to Clearfield, Clearfield to 29th, 29th to Chalmers, Chalmers to Lehigh again.
The area, which also includes Rhodes Middle School and the athletic facility shared by Franklin and Edison, would appear to be at least 1 1/2 miles.
"Except for the week up at Penn State's camp, I ran around there every other day before work," Thomas said. "Used to get up at 6:30 in the morning. Always ran one full time around, sometimes twice.
"Ran at a pretty good pace, too. I figured the harder I ran, the less tired I'd be when football started and a lot of running had to be done. I kept saying, 'Push it a little bit more, push it a little bit more. '
"After a while, I had it timed so when I came up along Clearfield, a bus would be pulling out of the SEPTA depot. I would wind up racing the bus. Sometimes I'd beat the bus, sometimes I'd lose by half a block.
"It would all depend," Thomas added, "on how fast the bus was going. "
This year, how many yards Thomas will gain will depend on how fast Frankford's inexperienced offensive line (no returning starters) comes together.
Yesterday, Frankford's line looked like it still could use a little practice, but Thomas still managed to gain 157 yards on 30 carries and score all three Frankford touchdowns in a 21- 7 victory over host Abraham Lincoln. It was the Northern Division football opener for each team.
Coach Al Angelo won't yet say that Thomas (5-11, 180) is the best player in Frankford High's storied and win- filled football history, but he will confirm that none has ever generated so much interest from major colleges.
Temple coach Bruce Arians attended yesterday's game. He has no sons or daughters at either school. He's not a grad of either school. His brother wasn't officiating.
"Maybe I shouldn't be presumptuous," Angelo said, "but I guess he was here to see Blair. "
There's a lot to see. Only a few times all game was Thomas able to get as far as 2 yards past the line of scrimmage without being touched. Often, he took solid hits and kept moving.
"They were really keying on me, which I expected," said Thomas, whose career rushing totals are 2,547 yards and 33 TDs. "They had a monster (roving defensive player) following me to start, then they switched the monster to the wingback side because they figured that's where I'd be running.
"When you get tackled, some things are said. Nothing bad, but you know they really want to get you. That's just part of running the ball a lot. In one scrimmage, in the pileups, guys were pinching me, scratching my eyes, even sticking their fingers up my nose. "
Thomas says he's receiving recruiting letters at the rate of 10 per week. When pressed, he'll mention Pitt, Ohio State and Penn State as possibilities. About Temple, he says, "Yeah, I'm open to them. "
"After the season," said Angelo, "I feel Blair should go ahead and take five or six nice trips, whatever number the NCAA allows you. Maybe Penn State, North Carolina, something out West, something down South . . . He can be a running back in a major-college program. Definitely.
"What I like best about Blair is the way he's coming out of his shell. He hardly used to say anything. He still doesn't, but he smiles frequently now and he has become a real leader, mostly by example.
"He runs and runs in practice, never takes a shortcut. He practices the same way he plays - all out. He never saves anything. It's like everything we do is the real thing to him. "
Meanwhile, big-time coaches should be advised, as many have been already, that Blair Thomas is also the real thing.
Is he a future Heisman Trophy winner? A future NFL or USFL star?
Maybe not, but don't laugh at such suggestions. No one who has seen him would.
NOTES: Marc Foster, also an upper-echelon back, had 165 yards on 18 carries and got Lincoln's lone score on an impressive 14-yard, fourth-quarter burst up the middle . . . The game was basically even, except that Lincoln committed four turnovers to Frankford's two . . . Blair Thomas 's second touchdown featured a dash to the 2, a fumble, and a quick recovery in the end zone . . . Like almost always, Lincoln has several huge linemen (John Robinson, Joe Curran, Reggie Browne).
Steve Goodrich, Penn Charter, Class of 1994
GOODRICH BIG IN WIN BY PC
Only because he was asked to, Steve Goodrich ticked off
the names of the Division I basketball programs that have recently sent him
After mentioning Seton Hall, Goodrich chuckled and muttered, "I don't know what they were thinking about."
The Hall was thinking this: Goodrich, a 6-7, 210-pound junior center at Penn Charter, has a chance to blossom into a big-time college prospect.
A chance must be used because Goodrich is only a first-year starter and, by his own admission, sometimes still finds himself on the floor for no honorable reason.
"Like that one time tonight," he said, laughing, "when I was backing up, tripped over my feet, and fell."
But there is much to like. It's not too hard to project Goodrich, who maintains a 3.6 grade-point average and has scored - this is not a misprint - 1,450 on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, as being worthy of attention from big-time programs that insist athletes also care about academics.
Last night, albeit against an opponent lacking in size (though not in toughness), Goodrich totaled 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the field and 3-for-5 from the foul line. He also had 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 blocked shots as the visiting Quakers bested Chestnut Hill Academy, 52-41, in the Inter-Ac League.
Then he talked about his progression.
How he was always tall for his age. However, until recently, he was largely unable to capitalize on the gift of good height genes provided by his father, Herb, who stands 6-4, and his mother, Ginger, who's 5-10.
"I was always clumsy, kind of 'oafy,' " said Goodrich, who lives in Wyndmoor, Montgomery County. "That was a major problem. You're flying downcourt and you feel like a cartoon. Your legs are moving and you're not going anywhere.
"I'm starting to lose that, although it's still kind of a problem. I guess I'm growing into my body."
A year ago, Goodrich served the Quakers almost exclusively as a backup to Tim Krug, a second-team Daily News All-City performer who is now playing at Penn.
Now that Goodrich plays full time, one can see that he has a decent shooting touch, a large frame, respectable running and quick-jumping ability, and a zest for competing.
Once last night, Goodrich blocked a shot and hustled downcourt to complete a fastbreak.
"Last year," he said, "I wasn't expected to do much. But we lost the players who did our (frontcourt) scoring, so I knew I'd be needed this year. I played a lot last summer. I tried to get comfortable with the ball in my hands, instead of being scared.
"I'm more relaxed now. And basketball's more fun. It just happened that I got the ball a lot as the season started, and started scoring. I got used to it. The guys do a great job of getting me the ball."
With 5 minutes, 49 seconds remaining, Goodrich took a dump-in pass from 6-4 sophomore Shawn Peterson and made a layup for a 43-39 lead. One trip later, after Bill Griffith (eight points, nine rebounds) produced what would be the Blue Devils' only two points of the quarter, Peterson swished a left-corner ''three" off Goodrich's assist.
"I'm always hearing, 'You're the tallest guy on the court. You have to get 40 tonight,' " Goodrich said. "I can't do that. Makes me too nervous. I don't expect myself to play well all the time. I'm still not consistent enough."
Aside from Goodrich and Peterson, the other members of PC's all-underclass starting lineup were junior guards Brian McMahon and Mark McGonagle and sophomore forward Scott Zalben. Senior Courtney Batts, the Inter-Ac's football player of the year, brought lightning-fast hands and feet off the bench and Brian Corbett, a junior, did a competent job spelling McMahon at the point.
Chestnut Hill shot 1-for-12 in the fourth quarter after leading through three, 39-37.
Although the common perception is that the Inter-Ac schools recruit many of their top athletes, Goodrich is a notable exception. He has attended PC since kindergarten (although his father played football at Chestnut Hill and Dartmouth).
"My parents never pressured me to play basketball," Goodrich said. "It just something I did on the side. I wasn't very good in middle school or as a freshman. But after freshman year, I started getting more serious."
Will Barker, Haverford School, Class of 2005
(This was written before Will's senior season at Virginia in
Concentrating on the field
Haverford School's Barker could be UVAs next top draftee
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
MOST COLLEGE KIDS, at least to some
degree, dread the resumption of school.
Dragging themselves out of bed. Trudging to classes on all corners of the campus. Pulling all-nighters with the hope of notching at least respectable grades.
And then there's Will Barker , star tackle for the University of Virginia's football team and a product of Haverford School.
School? Did someone say school? This semester, that barely computes.
Barker was redshirted in the fall of 2005 and, thus, has completed almost all of his course work toward a degree in anthropology. He's now taking just one measly class, in his major, and the time requirement is only 2 1/2 hours spread over 2 days per week.
The downtime will not be wasted. He promises.
There's a large picture here for the big-'un (6-7, 320) and Barker sees it clearly. While making 37 consecutive starts at right tackle, he has continued to blossom and improve and even become dominant, and some folks project him as an upper-round selection in next spring's NFL draft.
Yes, that's exciting. It's also back-burner material . . . Kinda.
"For me," Barker said, "it's all about getting ready for our Sept. 5 opener against William & Mary. That's where my focus is. "
Such a mind-set is understandable. Team comes first. College comes before pro. But with such great possibilities looming not far off, it would be impossible, even unwise, not to consider them and prepare accordingly.
As Barker acknowledged, he could have graduated on time and eased into a postgrad curriculum. He purposely followed this path, though, with a pay-for-play future in mind.
"Our offensive line coach [Dave Borbely] says a lot of guys wait until their senior season to try to make a name for themselves, and to do everything they can to perhaps play at the next level," Barker said. "I've been trying to work at that for the past couple years, and now I've reached my goal of being able to really focus on football this last semester.
"When I came here, I wanted to play, of course, but I never saw myself starting for 4 years. I got thrown in there as a redshirt freshman and things didn't go perfectly at first, but it was part of the experience and I've come a long way since then.
"To be able to do this at a school like Virginia, and to play with and against guys who've gone on to the pros making millions of dollars, and to learn from them, I couldn't be happier. I definitely feel blessed. "
To know that lofty o-line heights can be reached out of Virginia, Barker, a Bryn Mawr resident, needs only to reflect on recent seasons.
D'Brickashaw Ferguson went No. 4 in the 2006 draft, followed by Branden Albert at No. 15 in '08 and Eugene Monroe at No. 8 last spring.
So, how did this all happen? When you see that a guy stands 6-7, the immediate thought is basketball.
Though Barker did play hoops until about age 16, football and lacrosse were always his passions.
Lacrosse? Yeah, and it wasn't as if he had to settle for barely-out-there status. He was a 2-year defensive starter for powerhouse Fords' squads and, yes, he knows the required footwork and agility helped him immensely with football.
Defenders spent most of their time backpedaling, so it was no surprise that Barker's line-play strength became pass protection. Path-clearing is also now part of the process, thank you.
"No doubt lacrosse helped me," he said. "A lot. "
To a degree, Virginia football is Philly South.
The Cavaliers' roster includes five players from our city leagues, thanks to quarterback Marc Verica (Monsignor Bonner), defensive backs Trey Womack (Malvern Prep) and Dom Joseph (Roman Catholic) and defensive end Justin Renfrow (Penn Charter) in addition to Barker.
"It's always cool to talk Phillies and Eagles," Barker said.
Bury oneself in anthropology? Not as much.
"I'm not planning on digging up any dinosaur bones," he said, laughing. "I mean, I've found this interesting, but I wouldn't be looking to make my career in anthropology. Just something I decided to pick when I had to declare a major as a sophomore. "
Meanwhile, Barker's bio in Virginia's media guide describes him as a "skilled artist. " Alas, we aren't talking Picasso II.
"I won't be painting any portraits of coach [Al] Groh," he cracked.
He continued, "Actually, I just took my first art class this summer. It was very interesting. I liked it. Makes me think what things would have been like as an art major . . .
"I have a natural ability to draw, and people find that to be pretty unique. It's not necessarily something I love to do, but when I'm bored you can find me drawing things. Mostly things from my imagination. "
It's next April 22. Time for the NFL draft. What's it like to get picked?
Well, Barker won't have to imagine. *
Eddie Griffin, Roman Catholic, Class of 2000
AN 'R' FOR REMINDS
ROMAN'S GRIFFIN BEING COMPARED TO RASHEED WALLACE
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
At first, the "R" word was spoken only every so often, and those who used it whispered - worried about being branded a nut.
Now, many folks are using it and they're darn near shouting it from the rooftops.
The "R" word is Rasheed . . .
As in Rasheed Wallace, as in the former star at Simon Gratz High and North Carolina who now makes $13 million per season with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Can it be?
Just six years after we all enjoyed watching Wallace, who was routinely called the best big man produced in this city since Wilt Chamberlain, can it really be that someone who rivals Wallace's production, style and potential is now in our midst?
"It's not a bad comparison," said Allen Rubin, the Philadelphia-area editor for Hoop Scoop, a national scouting service based in Louisville.
"I can see that," said Gratz coach Bill Ellerbee, who guided Wallace through his high school career.
The new Rasheed Wallace, if you will, is Eddie Griffin , a 6-8, 200-pound junior center at perennial power Roman Catholic.
According to Rubin, Griffin has slapped together so many sensational performances this season, he now must be considered one of the country's top 10 juniors. (Just yesterday, he was one of 48 players - mostly seniors, some juniors - to be invited to play next summer in the USA Basketball Festival in Colorado Springs. )
Busy with his own team, Ellerbee has not seen Griffin this season. But he caught his act one time last summer in a showcase event involving Gratz and Roman , and that was enough.
"He killed us all by himself," Ellerbee said. "He had 16 blocks. Maybe 18. It was like our guys said, `Let's see if we can get this guy into the Guinness Book of World Records. ' They kept taking it in there. He kept smackin' it.
"He has the great reactions for blocking shots and rebounding. He has special anticipation, too, and he knows how to cut off approaches to the basket. He can play. He's the truth. "
Roman coach Dennis Seddon doesn't mind when people compare Griffin with Wallace, but at the same time . . .
"Somebody asked me to compare him with Tim Duncan," Seddon said. "I told the guy, `Instead of saying he's the next Tim Duncan or David Robinson, how about we call him the first Eddie Griffin ? ' Let's let him make his own mark. He's very capable of doing that. "
Griffin has scored 445 points in 19 games (23.4 average) for the 15-4 Cahillites. He also is averaging 13 rebounds, nine blocked shots and two assists while shooting just under 60 percent from the floor.
What makes him special?
Superior leaping ability. An extra-wide wingspan. The aforementioned reactions and anticipation - often, he is nowhere in the original field of vision on plays where he winds up registering easy rejections. Hunger to succeed. The kind of coordination that enables him to step away from the basket for 12- to 15-foot jumpers (though he sometimes shoots line drives).
In Roman 's win last Friday over visiting St. John Neumann, in which he notched 14 blocks with no personals, Griffin made one of the all-time plays. From the right side of the lane, he jumped to catch John Huggins's alley-oop pass and then was pushed hard in his tummy. Still rising, he absorbed the shove, caught the ball maybe two feet to the right of where he'd been when he jumped, and then somehow stretched his arms the extra distance to complete the dunk.
"The best thing was, he smiled afterward," said junior guard Mike Wild, Griffin's best friend in and out of school. "Some guys would have been . That's how Eddie is. Hard to get mad. "
Seddon remembered another all-timer earlier this season.
"He was standing in the lane," Seddon said, "and the shooter was in the right corner, seemingly wide open for a three. Eddie comes out, blocks the shot, catches it coming down and throws an all-in-one-motion outlet pass to midcourt that we turned into a breakaway layup.
"Everybody stood up and clapped. Both teams' fans. "
So, who is Eddie Griffin and how did he get here?
Griffin now lives near 18th and Cheltenham, in Pittville (a small section near the Philly-Cheltenham border), with his mother, Queen Griffin-Bowen. But he spent some of his life in Georgia with his father, Jock Griffin, and some in Hartford, Conn., with his half-brother, Marvin Powell, a former star forward at Martin Luther King (class of 1984) and Hartford.
"Marvin got him started," Griffin-Bowen said. "He taught him the game and took him around to places, so he could learn from good players.
"Am I surprised at Eddie's success? I kind of saw it coming. I mean, Marvin was a good player and Eddie had Marvin teaching him, so . . . "
Though Griffin attended King and then Frankford as a freshman, he did not play at either school. He transferred to Roman , Seddon said, after Powell approached the school and said he was looking for a place where Eddie could improve as a player and receive a solid education, along with discipline.
Griffin's easy nature makes him extremely popular with his teammates, even though he is somewhat shy and very much a man of few words.
Ask him about all the attention he's getting and he says, "It's good because it brings exposure to my teammates, too. "
Ask him how he's gotten so good and he says, "Working hard was a big part of it. "
Ask him to comment on the avalanche of recruiting mail he already is receiving and he says, "I have two big boxes filled with letters. Most of them say the same things. I'm only reading about 50 percent of them now. "
(He did acknowledge that some come from head coaches, personalized. )
Ask him whether he might follow Ellerbee's advice ("Tell him if he wants to be a true-blue monster to get involved with track and cross country, like Rasheed did, so he can run all game with no problem") and he says, "I'm going to run track this spring. They want me to high-jump, too. "
Ask him when the light went on, when he knew he was becoming a special player, and he says, "When I made the Top 20 game last summer at the ABCD camp . There were only five of us . "
Ask him what colleges he likes and he reels off Connecticut, Massachusetts, Temple, Maryland and Seton Hall, and then he adds, "I'm thinking about these five because I think they'll want me the most. "
(Later, he said he is completely undecided and is open to hearing from anyone and everyone. )
Ask him about his blocks and dunks and he says, "They give me a rush. But I try not to show it. I try not to let my emotions get in the way of playing. "
Griffin is similarly unexpansive with his mother.
"Yes, he's quiet with me, too," she said, laughing. "He's always telling me, `Mom, you ask too many questions. ' Mostly I ask him about his homework and how he's doing in school. He's bringing home 75s and 80s while I want him to bring home 90s and 100s. He could work harder. "
Like everyone else, Wild is amazed by what he sees from Griffin on a regular basis.
"I've never seen someone who can play like he can," Wild said. "Any time I make a mistake, offensively or defensively, he's there to pick me up.
"Eddie realizes how good he is now. What he doesn't realize, I believe, is how good he's going to be down the road. "
Seddon has been Roman 's head coach for 13 seasons and was an assistant for five before that.
"As a junior," he said, "Eddie is more progressed than anyone we've had. He has literally improved by leaps and bounds. In one year, he went from Point A to Point C. He's going to keep progressing. His future is unlimited.
"He has done a tremendous job of keeping things in perspective. He has a bit of unique innocence about him that I hope he never loses. Even though people are constantly pumping him up and telling him how great he is, his head can still fit through the doorway. "
Away from basketball, Griffin plays still more basketball. The video-game variety.
"I like playing NBA Live on PlayStation," he said. "I'm always the Lakers. They've got two of my favorite players, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal; my other favorite is David Robinson. "
So, being a big guy himself, does Griffin force-feed the ball again and again to Shaq?
"Nah, I usually let Kobe shoot it," he said. "He scores 30 to 40 a game. "
Larry Stewart, Murrell Dobbins Tech, Class of 1987
DOBBINS BUILDS ON PERFORMANCE BY STEWART
On one night or another in the fall of 1985, it was a
wonder that Rich Yankowitz did not have to sleep over at Murrell Dobbins Tech.
Not in a bed. In a wood cabinet. A locked wooden cabinet, perhaps one that had been constructed by Larry Stewart.
Stewart, who yesterday helped Dobbins earn a perfunctory 61-42 Public League quarterfinal victory at Frankford, was a non-basketball player at the time despite the non-stop assault that Yankowitz, the Mustangs' varsity coach, mounted on his ears.
"'Yank' kept coming to my cabinetmaking class to talk to me about playing," Stewart said. "He'd say (switch to excitable voice), 'Why don't you try out? Why don't you try out? We need you. We need you.'
"He kept coming after me, pressing me. He was starting to make me mad, really. I finally said, 'Nix this. I'm going to try out just to get this guy off my back.' "
When Stewart entered Dobbins as a ninth-grader, his knees would have buckled if someone remotely close in size to Yankowitz had hopped onto his back. And Yank is not even that large.
That is because Stewart's weight was only 130 and the beef, such as it was, was distributed (skin tight?) over a 130-pound frame.
"I wasn't into basketball my first two years at Dobbins," Stewart said. ''I was too underweight. I'd watch games on TV and I'd play pickup games around the way (33rd Street and Allegheny Avenue), but I never pictured myself being able to play school ball.
"I didn't think I was that good, but Yank did. He'd been my gym teacher. I guess he saw me playing there."
The other Mustangs were not exactly strapped to the area between Stewart's shoulder blades yesterday, but they could have been if Larry and/or Yankowitz had perceived a need.
Despite his late start, Stewart (now 6-5 1/2, 185 pounds) already has evolved into a gem of an inside player and there can be no understating his future potential.
Stewart scored only five points against the Pioneers, going 3-for-10 (ouch!) from the foul line, but he grabbed eight rebounds, dished five assists and flawlessly handled the middle position against Frankford's zone presses.
It is doubtful Stewart will qualify academically for a Division I scholarship, so it appears that Millersville or Cheyney - those schools are eons ahead of their Division II peers - is about to come up with a winner.
"Once Larry gets on a year-round weight program and gains some strength, look out," Yankowitz said. "He does enough things well now to be able to go someplace and make a worthwhile contribution immediately.
"He's a bright kid basketballwise. He picks things up great and if he makes a mistake, he doesn't repeat it. He has learned to maneuver well inside. He knows when to fake and when to go up strong. He rolls off his man well. He knows how to use the blocks, his left hand, the baseline."
Stewart also has picked up the finer points of pigging out.
"Yank gave me a list of foods to eat to gain weight," Larry said, smiling. "He was always saying (here comes that excitable voice again), 'Drink milkshakes. Drink milkshakes.' He gave me a little weight program to follow, too."
In the first half, which ended 29-20, Stewart looked more like a traffic cop than a basketball player.
Each time Frankford tried to press, Stewart merely stepped to the exact middle of the court, caught a pass from the guards (Doug Overton, Jeff Carter), then whipped the ball to Sean Dickerson (9-for-11, 20 points) or Randy Slade (13 points).
"We knew that they left the middle open in their press," said Stewart, whose brother, Stephen, a freshman at Parkway, also should blossom into a star. "All I had to do was flash to the middle, then look opposite from where the pass came. It gave us easy fastbreaks.
"At halftime I thought, 'The other guys are hitting their jump shots. I don't have to work at scoring today.' I decided to concentrate on rebounds and defense."
"Larry doesn't have an attitude like, 'I'm well known, I can afford to rest,' " Yankowitz said. "He works hard every day, just keeps plugging away.
"He is very religious. His mother was very skeptical about him playing basketball because of their religious beliefs, but she decided she was going to leave it up to Larry. Larry felt he could handle his family responsibilities and also play basketball, and he's been out there ever since.
"He's a well-mannered young man. Off the court, he's not aggressive at all."
Surely not aggressive enough to stick Yank in a cabinet, although he might have thought about doing it.
PLAYOFF PATTER: Junior guard Jamie Ross led Frankford with 17 points . . . Dobbins's ever-supportive fans literally took over the gym from the noise standpoint . . . Doug Overton (foul trouble) sat for the first 11:37 of the second half, but Ervin Ezell (three assists) made sure no beats were skipped.
Dwayne White, Southern, Class of 1985
(This was written after Dwayne was drafted in 1990)
OLDER AND STRONGER
SOUTHERN PRODUCT WHITE PLUCKED BY JETS
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Dwayne White strolled into Southern High
last Friday, sought out football coach John Pendino and said, after the usual
pleasantries, "Put your arm on the desk. "
"What for? " Pendino said.
"I want to show you something," White responded.
The pair then proceeded to arm-wrestle.
"He nailed me good," Pendino said. "Right down. He remembered. "
White and Pendino last had arm-wrestled in the fall of 1984, when White, at 6-2, 265 pounds, was making first-team Daily News All-Public as an offensive lineman.
That was before a strange set of circumstances (more on that later) steered White to Alcorn State, in Lorman, Miss. It was also, of course, long before yesterday, when the New York Jets made White, who lives near 19th and Dickinson streets in South Philly, the second pick in the seventh round (No. 167 overall) of the NFL draft.
"Dwayne was a good player for us, but he wasn't real strong," Pendino said. "Not so much anymore - I'm in my 60s now - but I used to Indian wrestle most of the kids. I'd usually take them right down. It'd surprise them. I beat Dwayne easy. I told him, 'You're quick, you know what you're doing, but you've got to get more strength. ' He listened. "
White, who is still 6-2, now weighs 305 pounds.
"Got there by lifting weights," he said. "And I love to eat. They used to call me 'Donut' in high school. Now they call me 'Twinkie. ' "
White spent his first three years of high school at Central, then transferred to Southern . During that time, his brother, John, an Edward Bok Tech product who's now an executive with the Boy Scouts of America, was a basketball player for Delaware State.
"My brother's roommate was a kid from Michigan," Dwayne remembered. "One day the both of them got into a little skirmish. My mother and I went down to Delaware State to help settle the dispute.
"As it turned out, the kid's mother had gone to Alcorn. We got to talking and she said it was a good school and she had the Alcorn people contact me. That's how I got the scholarship.
"It was the first time I experienced being in the country. It was real hard to get adjusted. It was too quiet. I couldn't sleep. I was used to the sounds of sirens and breaking bottles. Once I became acclimated, I came to love it. Now, I wouldn't trade it for the world. When I come home, I'm scared. There's so much in the way of guns and drugs. I'm always watching my back. "
With the Jets, White will get a chance to renew two old friendships.
In April 1985, the victorious Public squad in the Daily News-Eagles City All-Star Game featured White and two pretty fair running backs - Frankford's Blair Thomas and West Philadelphia's Reggie Barnes.
Monday, the Jets made Thomas the No. 2 pick in the first round. Barnes, meanwhile, spent last fall on the Jets' developmental squad. (Thomas and White are fifth-year seniors. Barnes went through Delaware State in four years. )
"Those were two great running backs, the best I've ever been around," said White, who will graduate next month with a degree in political science. ''It would be fun to get a chance to block for them. "
White said the Jets are holding a minicamp May 6 to 11, but that he has been asked to report a few days earlier.
"When last season started," Dwayne said, "I found out that the scouts were keeping an eye on me. As time went on, I heard I was being rated higher and higher. In the NFL, there aren't a whole lot of black offensive linemen, so I was never sure how things would go. And sometimes, the black schools don't get much (media) exposure. But the way things have turned out - hey, it's pretty much a dream come true.
"The Jets showed a lot of interest. They came to visit with me about two weeks ago. I was a tackle for Alcorn, but the Jets see me as a guard."
Mark Gubicza, Penn Charter, Class of 1981
BIG LEAGUES EYE GUBICZA
By Ted Silary, Daily News Sports Writer
It's a good thing wooden bats are largely
passe in schoolboy baseball. If not, the way Mark Gubicza throws spark-trailing
fastballs, fire companies would spend most of their time pumping water on
Gubicza, a 6-5, 210-pound righthander from Penn Charter School, is the hottest pitching prospect in the Delaware Valley. The reasons are a fastball clocked at 92 MPH and a curve that manages to punish radar guns to the tune of 80 or 81.
The average major league fastball zips into catchers' mitts at the rate of 85 MPH. Thus, the non-stop attention.
"Three months ago," said Coach Rick Mellor, " Villanova offered a full ride and the two of them Mark and father Tony , assistant to Mellor were ecstatic. Not knocking Villanova, but I knew he was better than that.
"Since then, he's received interest and/or offers from numerous good baseball schools, some of the country's best. "
UP NORTH, Gubicza has worked 22 innings against four opponents, surrendering 6 earned runs, 16 hits and 14 walks while fanning 31 batters. His biggest outing to date, however, took place in the South - namely Clearwater, Fla.
With the help of three fund-raisers, the returning Penn Charter players spent 10 days in late March training (with one off for visit to Disney World) at the Phillies' Carpenter Complex.
Unfortunately, the Quakers were unable to play schoolboy teams because Mellor had no knowledge of the Florida rule requiring contracts for games with out-of-state opponents. But a five-inning game was arranged with the Phillies' first-year farmhands and the score was only 5-2.
"Mark pitched three innings and had five strikeouts," Mellor recalled. "They scored three runs off him, but we made some costly errors. "
Mark Gubicza, would-be phenom, has been playing baseball since the age of 8, when his favorite position (one he still plays) was shortstop and his father, a former star pitcher at Roxborough High and three-year White Sox farmhand, was unsure whether or not to ease his son into mound duty.
Eventually, Mark's size dictated that he try pitching and his performances in a series of American Legion All-Star games last summer assured the fact that the move was a wise one.
"I MADE IT ALL the way to the state East-West game at Kutztown State, " Mark said. " I gave up one hit in two innings and had something like four or five strikeouts. I began to realize that my chances of going somewhere in baseball were good. "
Yesterday, Gubicza worked six innings as Penn Charter hammered Episcopal Academy, 17-1, in an Inter- Ac opener. His no-hit bid was dashed after 3 2/3 innings as Joe Urbani clubbed a high slider for a 350-foot homer. The Churchmen also managed 2 singles and 3 walks while whiffing 9 times.
When Mark's vintage fastball is working, most batters can do little more than close their eyes and hope.
"Some of them choke up and stick out their bats," Mellor said. " In Mark's loss 3-2 to Haverford High, we weren't getting calls on curves and sliders. Our catcher got frustrated and kept calling for fastballs. They got four hits in one inning just by sticking out their bats. For now on, we've made a vow: at least 30 percent of his pitches have to be breaking balls. "
Gubicza has already passed the stage where he's been viewed and graded by scouts from this region. Now, scouts from other regions are making pit stops to form their own opinions. If enough scouts from the same team like what they see, presto, you have a high-round draft choice.
"I've already visited Ohio State and Alabama and I plan to make visits to Georgia and possibly South Carolina," Mark said. " Penn State, Vanderbilt and Miami have also shown lots of interest. If I get drafted in one of the first few rounds, I'll listen to offers. Lower than that, I'll consider college.
"THE ATTENTION can make your head spin, but I handle it the best I can. It's a challenge pitching in front of people, trying to earn respect. My fastball, by far, is my best pitch, but the slider has been coming on, too. My big problems are control and concentration and they often go hand-in-hand. I get mad sometimes and that affects my next few pitches. I try to take a deep breath and regain my composure.
"Right now," he added, laughing, " I'm at the point where sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't."
Idol-wise, Mark Gubicza is partial to a pitcher he has never seen in person, the Orioles' Jim Palmer. Perhaps he has a secret desire to model underwear?
"I like the way he gets the job done," Mark said. " There's no wasted energy in his pitching motion and he's so darn consistent. He's pitching as well in his mid-30s as he did in his mid-20s. "
Gubicza, meanwhile, is only 18, but he realizes the vast possibilities.
"I used to dream about playing in the majors," he said. " Now, although it's still a dream, it seems more in focus. When I pitched against the Phillies, I remember thinking, 'With a little experience, I could probably get these guys out. '"
INTER-AC: Ed Foley (2), Mark Gubicza (grand slam), Bob McNally and Ernie Barile mashed outta-here homers as Penn Charter deflated Episcopal Academy, 17-1 . . . David Orr pitched Malvern Prep past Haverford School, 8-2 . . . Germantown Academy bested Chestnut Hill Academy, 6-3.
CATHOLIC: Ed Law smacked an 8th-inning homer as Cardinal Dougherty licked La Salle, 6-5 . . . John Weick bagged the game-winning RBI as North Catholic topped Bishop Kenrick, 9-6, in 8 . . . Tom Zito (2-hitter) and Bob Molle (sacrifice fly) helped Bishop Egan edge Archbishop Wood, 2-1, in 9 . . . Father Judge ( Craig Canning 12 Ks, John Boston (2 RBI) melted Bishop McDevitt, 5-0 . . . Kevin George fanned 13 as Monsignor Bonner slapped St. Joseph's Prep, 6-2 . . . Jim Wollner pitched West Catholic past Roman Catholic, 7-0 . . . Rich Crowley (4-for-5) and Jim Seaman (3 RBI) paced St. James over St. John Neumann, 14-10 . . . Cardinal O'Hara topped Archbishop Carroll, 3- 1.
Alvin Williams, Germantown Academy, Class of 1993
GA GUARD HAS BASEBALL TIES, BASKETBALL FLAIR
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Alvin Williams has serious pull. When readers discover what kind it is, and that he rarely takes advantage, many might want to pull out their hair.
Williams, a 6-4, 170-pound junior, is a star basketball guard at Germantown Academy.
His father, Alvin Sr., a multisport star for Simon Gratz in the mid-1950s, works for Major League Baseball in the commissioner's office.
"I can get free tickets, but I'm not that interested," Alvin Jr. said. ''The only time I get near baseball is for the all-star games. We make them family vacations. Went to Oakland in 1987 and Chicago in 1990.
"I used to play baseball, but I quit at age 13. I couldn't hit the ball for anything. "
Alvin Williams , thank goodness, is much more successful at hoops. He ranks as the No. 1 junior guard prospect in the city leagues, is receiving personalized letters from La Salle, St. Joseph's, Villanova, Massachusetts, Wake Forest and Providence, among others, and has already surpassed a career milestone.
Yesterday, Williams scored 20 points, raising his career total to 1,009, as the visiting Patriots edged Haverford School, 68-67, in an Inter-Ac goodie. The winning points came on a buzzer-beating, fourth-chance field goal by sophomore Damon Williams.
Alvin Williams 's big moment occurred 2:28 before halftime, when he buried a right-corner "three" that gave him exactly 1,000 points.
After receiving the ball from GA coach Jim Fenerty, Williams bounded into the stands to share the moment with his father; mother, Alfreda; great aunt, Toni Saracino; uncle, Kenneth Myers; and sister, Doreen, who was wielding a video camera.
"They're all an inspiration to me," said Williams, who also collected 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. "Usually, all four (in the immediate family) make it to Friday games. It's tough for my other sister (Alvina) on Tuesdays. My father makes almost all of them. I don't know how he does it. He'll say, 'I don't think I'll be able to make it.'
But when I look up in the stands, there he is.
"After the Episcopal game last Friday, coach Fenerty told me I needed 11 points. It wasn't that nerve-wracking, though. I wasn't thinking about scoring because I wanted to get to 1,000. I was looking more to assert myself because Haverford was playing us so tough. "
After two seasons as a wing guard, Williams most often plays the point. A good percentage shooter, he also possesses the characteristics (gallop-like dribble, fancy footwork, ability to shield the ball in traffic) of a pure scorer. His greatest attributes are court awareness and instinct.
"I could probably be a combination guard in college, but I hope to play the point," Williams said. "That's what I'm working toward. I like having the ball in my hands. There's more of a chance to create. I'm comfortable at the point because that's what I play in the Sonny Hill League.
"It's fun on this team. Larry Leith and Denis Kane are usually consistent shooters and Mark Nori and Damon Williams usually do something nice when I drop it down low. "
Much to his dismay, A. Williams had to watch the final 1:40 after fouling out for only the second time in his varsity career.
The Fords, who received 23 points (five "threes") from sophomore guard Mike Dzik, went ahead, 67-66, on Andy Callahan's basket with 0:29 left. After Blair Hicks missed for GA, Leith forced a jump ball at 0:09. On the inbounds play, Kane passed to Nori, who missed a contested layup. The ball trickled along the left baseline, where Kane outhustled a Ford, got possession and missed an off-balance jumper. Next, D. Williams missed his first follow in the middle of the lane, then connected on his second.
"We usually play bad on Tuesdays," A. Williams said. "It seems like we need a good crowd for us to play well. We have to get out of that mode."
Ronald "Flip" Murray, Strawberry Mansion, Class of 1998
MURRAY HELPS MANSION BOOK A DATE AT PALESTRA
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Ronald `` Flip '' Murray did not take a bullet, thank goodness, or lose a loved one, but the feeling was pretty much the same.
``It was like,'' he said, ``I had a hole in my heart. ''
For a kid who loves basketball and has dreams (with merit) of playing in the NBA, nothing hurts as much as having to sit on the bench in street clothes.
A broken arm is one thing. A broken report card is another.
Murray , a 6-4 senior wing guard at Strawberry Mansion High, would have strongly contended for a first-team Daily News All-City spot had he played all season. Instead, his ``season'' is only six games old.
Murray was ruled academically ineligible before the Knights played their first game and did not make it back, per Public League rules, until report cards were issued Feb. 3 at the end of the second marking period.
Some people, when talking about a person's pain, like to say, ``He was crying on the inside.''
`` Ronald was crying on the outside,'' said Mansion coach Gerald Hendricks. ``Not anywhere where people could see him, but he'd come to some games and I'd see tears in his eyes. ''
Yesterday, Murray pumped in 21 points and added three blocked shots and five steals as Mansion muffled visiting West Philadelphia, 78-58, in a playoff quarterfinal and earned a trip to Sunday's semifinals at the Palestra.
Also, at least five times, he did something miraculous to get the fans' hearts pumping faster.
If it wasn't a lightning-quick crossover dribble - oooooh! - it was an open-floor steal and thunderous dunk - aaaaah! And then there were the smooth-as-silk jumpers - monnnnney!
``My fans are always asking me to do certain things,'' Murray said. `` `Do this one. Do that one. ' I like trying to make them happy, but I can't be thinking about that on the floor. The deal has to be, `If it happens, it happens. ' The fans aren't my coach. I can't be listening to them. ''
Though Murray said he was surprised when he became ineligible, well, he could not have been that surprised.
``I knew I was slacking off with my books,'' he said. ``I just didn't know I was slacking off that much.
``When the report cards came out, coach Hendricks told me, `You have to take care of something. ' That hurt, knowing I couldn't play. It was tough going home to tell my mom [Sandra Murray ]. She wasn't mad, but she was very disappointed.
``I learned a good lesson. If you don't do your schoolwork, you're not going to get on the court. Simple as that. My mom's been staying on me. First thing in the door, she says to me, `Let me see what you have for homework. ' She even calls my teachers. `Is Ronald doing his work? ' ''
Murray also received support from his fellow students.
``Nobody was putting me down for not playing,'' he said. ``These people are my friends aside from being my fans. If they saw me in the hallways, they'd tell me to get to class and do my work so I could make it back onto the team. ''
While Murray was out, Hendricks did not let his expectations soar too high.
``You always hope for the kid to get back,'' Hendricks said. ``But . . . '' He did not complete the thought. In his 15 seasons as Mansion 's coach, he has seen too many of his franchise players become ineligible.
There was some history on Murray 's side, however. In the 1983-84 season, forward Amos Clay missed the first two months of the season because of poor grades and then averaged 21 points (officially) and 24 rebounds (unofficially) in the last five games.
Murray 's six-game scoring average is 27.2 with a high game of 41, which tied the school record. He continues to hear from Division I schools and is on target to graduate, according to Hendricks.
As impressive as Murray was yesterday, he was not the Knights' best player. Junior Kevin ``Buzz'' Forney, another wing guard, scored 29 points and has had a good enough season that Hendricks likes to say, ``I see him becoming as good as Ronald , maybe better. '' Also essential were leaper Tyree Jones (20 points, eight rebounds, four blocks) and defensive whiz Bernard ``The Glove'' Scott, who worked like crazy to limit West sophomore Donnel Feaster, a 5-8 whirlwind, to 26 points on 11-for-29 from the floor.
It was Scott who set an early tone while the Knights were warming up.
``We're playing for bread and meat,'' he kept saying. ``We don't win, we don't eat.''
John Waerig, Cardinal Dougherty, Class of 1995
DESPITE LOSSES, WAERIG WINS INTEREST
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
As much as he's tempted to, John Waerig
cannot tell lies.
As uncomfortable as it makes him, he must be truthful when speaking with college recruiters.
"We lost again. "
"We lost again. "
"We lost again."
John Waerig , a 6-3, 235-pound linebacker and occasional fullback, plays football at Cardinal Dougherty High.
After two seasons of providing serious challenges for mighty Archbishop Ryan in the Catholic League Northern Division, the injury-wracked Cardinals have dropped like a rock under interim coach Paul Hackney.
Hackney, the former freshman team coach, was appointed in mid-August after Ryan coach Glen Galeone jumped to Dougherty for three days, then changed his mind and returned to Ryan.
The Cardinals, 2-6 overall, are losers of five straight. They were shut out for four consecutive games, then scored Saturday night against La Salle, but only because junior Austin "Sonny" Nagle returned an interception for a touchdown.
"When the recruiters call, I'm kind of afraid to tell them what's going on," Waerig said. "It's like, 'Maybe they'll think it's me. ' "
He thought for a second, then added, "They keep calling. I guess they're not holding it against me. They probably don't care if you're winning or losing as long as you have good films to send them. "
Waerig said he hears once a week - the NCAA's limit for phone contact - from Ohio State, Wisconsin, Pitt, Clemson and Wake Forest. Others call sporadically and many more send letters.
Ohio State and Wisconsin have winning records under veteran coaches. Pitt, Clemson and Wake Forest are a combined 7-19 under coaches in their first or second season.
"They must know what we're going through," Waerig said. "They have young teams and a new staff and they're trying to put something together. They're finding out it doesn't always work out the way you want, or as fast. "
In all honesty, Waerig was merely good, not great, through the first half of Dougherty's schedule. He made a few impressive plays every game, but often arrived in the vicinity of ballcarriers after someone else had made the tackle.
Waerig severely sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter of game No. 5, a 14-0 loss to Conwell-Egan, then missed two more games before returning against La Salle.
With a fury. Waerig (pronounced ware-idge) rocked bodies all night. He made seven of his 14 tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage and made three in succession when La Salle had the ball inside the 5.
"That was John at his best," Hackney said. "He was a half-step slow earlier this season, probably because he was trying to get used to a new system and because of some of the controversy we went through (when a defensive coach quit the staff). Now he's comfortable and his ankle is almost back to 100 percent. He's John again.
"The thing about John is, he reads plays better than anyone I've ever seen. It might look like we're blitzing him all the time, but we're not. It's just that he recognizes what's happening very fast - zoom, he's in there. "
One of Hackney's assistants is Ray Ellis, an ex-Eagles safety.
"We were watching the film of one game," Hackney said, "and a guard came out on John one-on-one. He shed the block and made the tackle all in the same motion. Ray said, 'That's a big-time play right there. That's what they're looking for. ' "
Said Waerig: "I was trying to do too much in the beginning. I knew other teams were thinking of me as the player on Dougherty. For us to win, I thought I needed to do things outside of my capabilities. It was like I was trying to play three positions at once . . . Anyway, it's going better now. "
Waerig expects to visit Ohio State during the second weekend in December, then perhaps Wisconsin the weekend after that. He is unsure about other visits.
"Ohio State seems to want me the most," he said. "They've had a good program for a long time. I love watching that linebacker they have now, Lorenzo Styles. He's like Dick Butkus. I've picked up some tips from watching (the Eagles') Byron Evans, too.
"It would be great to play big-time college football. All those people watching. It must be so intense . . . I've thought about it. Man, that would be great."
Rasual Butler, Roman Catholic, Class of 1998
BUTLER DID IT IN ROMAN WIN
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Moments away was the start of a Catholic League basketball quarterfinal and Roman Catholic coach Dennis Seddon was talking softly about the absence of 6-7 sophomore Eddie Griffin.
``We've felt all year,'' he said, ``that St. John Neumann has the most talent and depth in the league. You don't like going into a game like this with one hand tied behind your back. ''
Luckily for Roman , the other hand belonged to Rasual Butler . Also fortunate was the fact Griffin's situation - out with a school suspension - caused no damage to his teammates' heart.
In one of the more memorable upsets in CL playoff history - considering the circumstances - the Cahillites last night numbed Neumann, the defending champion, 63-56, at La Salle University's Hayman Center.
Butler, a 6-8 La Salle signee, was average (or less) in the first, second and fourth quarters, shooting a combined 4-for-11 from the floor (one three-pointer) and missing all four of his free throws.
But, man, did he ever explode in the third quarter.
Butler poured in 17 of his team's 18 points as Roman turned a 29-27 deficit into a 45-39 lead. A whopping 13 came in the first 3 minutes, 38 seconds of the session on a garden-variety field goal, two three-pointers, another g-v and one more three.
The outburst was preceded by this scene just before the second half began. As Butler walked over to inbound the ball, he saw his grandfather, Robert Toomer, perched in the first row. Toomer likes to holler, mostly constructively, and perhaps Butler was sensing some chirping designed to get him going.
Calmly, and almost under his breath, Butler looked at his grandfather and said with a hint of a smile, ``Sit back and relax. ''
Toomer bit his tongue. Then, he and the rest of Roman 's fans began cheering like crazy as Butler put on an incredible show.
``I knew what I had to do,'' he said. ``The coaches just told me at halftime. They were saying I wouldn't want to go home afterward talking about how I hadn't taken enough shots, or hadn't done this or that. I told myself I had to do what needed to be done.
``My teammates did a good job of getting me open. They gave me the ball in rhythm. If I didn't have a good shot right away, I did what the coaches told me: Give it to somebody else and work hard to get it back in a better spot. ''
Seddon declined to comment on Griffin's suspension, but he did pin a small card bearing Griffin's No. 33 to his chest. Butler, who finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots, said the Cahillites remained upbeat all week.
``Everybody else steps up. Everybody else steps up. That's all we kept talking about,'' he said.
Junior point guard Mustafa Bey (15 points, three assists) echoed those thoughts.
``We had to push each other and stick together,'' he said. ``We looked at it as motivation. We were confident in the game. We were confident before the game. ''
Bey scored most of his six field goals on quick bursts down the lane that produced easy layups.
``I figured most of their guys were a half-step slower than me, at least,'' he said. ``I figured if I could penetrate and kick it out [for jumpers] or penetrate and get a layup, that would help put us over the top. ''
With 5:42 left, Roman had to sense its chances were good when guard Rich Ennis lofted an alley-oop pass intended for Butler toward the basket and - oh, my goodness! - saw it swish right through the basket. That miracle provided a 50-44 lead.
Later, solid ballhandling by Bey, Ennis and Mike Wild enabled the Cahillites to melt away large chunks of time in a delay offense.
From Neumann's standpoint, a killer field goal was scored by Bey (assist by Butler) with 0:54 left on an inbounds play. That pushed the lead to 59-53 and also spurred some Neumann fans to head for the exit. Soon, Seddon was sitting alone in a stairwell not far from Roman 's locker room, savoring the win and trying to wind down.
``We absolutely believed,'' he said. ``We knew all year we had a great player in Rasual. We also have lots of young kids who we expected to come on, little by little. This was a chance to show how far they've come. I'm proud of everyone.''
Charles Way, Northeast, Class of 1990
SUCCESS IN A BIG WAY
NORTHEAST PLAYER ATTRACTS ATTENTION ON, OFF FIELD
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Parents with scrawny boys who are fond of football might want to consider a move to the vicinity of 28th Street and Allegheny Avenue.
Something must be in the water.
As a ninth-grader on Northeast High's junior varsity football team, Charles Way stood 5-8 and weighed 135 pounds. He then expanded to 5-9, 160 as a sophomore, to 6-foot, 180 as a junior and to 6-2, 210 as a senior.
"It was never that noticeable to me," Way said, shrugging off his growth.
"But when people would see me for the first time in a while," he added, ''they'd comment about my size. One day, I went to see my old Little League football coach and he said, 'You're lookin' big. ' "
To Abraham Lincoln defenders last Friday, Way must have looked like Paul Bunyan in a 40-28 Northeast victory. They didn't know whether to tackle him, hop on his back for a ride or merely step aside and holler, "Ole! "
Way carried 19 times for 186 yards and 3 touchdowns, added 2 conversion runs, caught 1 pass for a 54-yard score and returned 2 kickoffs for 42 yards.
"Have to mention the linemen," Way said, referring to center Brian Peterson, guards George Veit and Adam Friedman, tackles Steve Kim and Peter Oravitz and ends Jamiel Williford and Jeff Weiss. "They'll love this. "
Additionally, in his first start at inside linebacker (he played previously on the outside), Way played what veteran assistant Ben Rosner said was "the best game on defense anyone has had since I've been with the program. "
"Afterward," Rosner continued, "Charles came over and asked, straight- faced, 'How'd I do at inside linebacker? ' That's the kind of kid he is (unassuming). I told him, 'Well, since you were fantastic, I think we'll keep you there. ' "
Unless large numbers of Division I recruiters are mistaken, Charles Way will star on more than just the high school level.
Representatives of Penn State, Rutgers, South Carolina, Syracuse, Pitt, West Virginia, Virginia, UCLA, Tennessee regularly write and/or call. Schools such as Penn and Princeton are staying in touch, too, in case Way opts for an Ivy League education.
"Wednesday is the heavy night for calls," Way said. "Tuesday through Thursday, actually. Most of them last about 10 minutes. All the coaches present themselves well. They'll ask about my games, about school. They'll tell me about their games, ask if I have any questions.
"They'll ask who else is calling. When I say names, it seems like they all know each other. "
Way confesses that Northeast is not always where he wanted to be.
"Truthfully, I wanted to go to Central," Way said. "I'd always heard about their good football team, I'd seen TV clips of their Thanksgiving games with Northeast, and I knew about the academics. But I didn't get accepted. They took kids who scored above 90 on the entrance test. I was around 85. I didn't do that great my first year here, then I got myself together. "
For a guy who would have preferred being someplace else, Charles Way has blossomed into quite a well-rounded young man at Northeast.
Athletically, aside from football, Way was the Public League's second-best 185-pound wrestler a year ago and was prominent in track as a shot-putter and 100-meter man. Academically, he ranks in the top 20 percent of seniors, has scored 900 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test and participated last summer in a monthlong, engineering-oriented program at Villanova.
Harvey "Brew" Schumer, Northeast's head man for five years and an assistant for two before that, said Way is the best player he has coached.
One thing is for sure: The last Viking to stir even close to this much recruiting attention was halfback Kevin Duckett (class of '79), who starred briefly for Temple before academics felled him.
"Lots of schools want to know about Charles," Schumer said, "but it's hard to tell for what. Could be either way (offense or defense). Most say they'll try to accommodate him. "
Said Way: "The coaches said I have time to make up my mind. If I want to, they said I can come to the school, try both sides (of the ball), then they'll give me an evaluation of where they think I'd do best.
"Offense is what people think about more. They don't mention too much about defense. But you could say I'm leaning toward defense. I like it a lot, especially since I'm playing in the middle now. You get to make more tackles. You're more involved in every play . . . Really, though, if it's helping the team, I'll play any position. "
Way's parents, Cleveland and Jacqueline, always have insisted that their sons make strong efforts in school. Charles's only brother, Cleveland, was a member of Engineering and Science's first graduating class ('82) and played basketball as the first front-court substitute.
He later went to Textile and now works in New Jersey as a textile engineer, after spending some time in Ohio.
"I want engineering, too. Probably a different branch, like mechanical or electrical," Charles said. "I look up to my brother a lot. Watching him was how I got interested in engineering. "
Charles's football appetite was whetted by dad and brother.
"We'd always watch TV games together," he said. "When I was in fifth grade, I asked my dad to find me a team to play on. He tried the Frankford Chargers first, but I was too heavy. Then he got me on the Nicetown Steelers, with guys like (Gratz quarterback) Robert Alston and Keita Crespina (Temple frosh, formerly of Lincoln).
"I'm a football fan. Some teammates and I went up to the Penn State- Rutgers game (Oct. 7) and we saw the Wood-Judge and North Catholic-Ryan games last weekend right here. I've been watching all the middle linebackers, trying to see how they do things. "
Last Friday, as 68 points were being posted, Way was shaking in his cleats.
"That was the kind of game I don't like," he said, laughing. "All those touchdowns going back and forth. It was scary. I like to beat someone convincingly. I don't like close games."
Chris Conlin, Bishop McDevitt, Class of 1983
(Combo story: fellow DE Bob Arnold)
MCDEVITT CO-CAPTAINS MAKE A BIG IMPRESSION
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Bishop McDevitt 's 1980 football roster
listed Chris "Buck" Conlin and Bob "Lurch" Arnold as 6-2, 225 pounds, and 6-0,
170 pounds, respectively.
These days, when the Lancers' co-captains march to midfield for the coin toss, their counterparts are inclined to raise their eyebrows, take one step backward and mutter, "These guys must have got lost on their way to a lumberjack camp."
Chris Conlin goes 6-4 1/2 , 252. Bob Arnold goes 6-4, 220. That's going some for a school that usually fields some of the smallest players this side of Pop Warner leagues.
Arnold, who played the position last year under former Coach Jim McIntyre, and Conlin, who was switched from tackle this year by new Coach Pat Manzi, both are defensive ends.
With ends this big, who needs a middle?
"Very few tight ends are as big as Conlin and Arnold and no running backs come close to being as big," said Manzi, whose team got its first win last Saturday, 13-0, over North Catholic. "Imagine what a slotback thinks when he has to block one of them?
"It's different using people that big as ends. But we feel it keeps teams from going outside over and over and it's not like John Constantino and Chris Werner aren't capable tackles. Chris and Bob both have the quickness and the smarts to play the position. It's working out well. "
According to Manzi, Lancer fans accustomed to watching the team in action only on game days are missing out on 50 percent, or more, of the available thrills.
"You should see them in practice," Manzi said. " That's when they really put on a show.
"They do some of their best hitting against each other. When we do our various one-on-one drills, Chris and Bob always seem to wind up at the head of the line together. I have even seen them skip past a few kids to make sure that happens. Maybe they're showing compassion for their teammates. Or maybe they realize the day-in, day-out competition against each other will help them improve. "
Conlin could not play football until his first year at McDevitt , because youth programs that group youngsters by weight do not allow for blossoming behemoths. He always was the tallest and widest kid in his class - also the least pestered by wise guys.
"Not too many kids ever wanted to fight me," Chris said. " That was OK with me. I never went looking for fights. I never had much of a temper. "
Chris's older brother, Ken, was listed at 6-0, 200 when he played football (his best sport was baseball) for McDevitt in 1979. Craig, a soph at La Salle High with a great future in basketball and baseball, already is 6- 5.
"Wait 'til you see the ones on the way," Chris said. " Keith's in fourth grade. He'll be like Craig. Probably even taller. Kevin's in second. He'll be like me. Probably even larger. My three sisters are big, too. "
Arnold, meanwhile, is the only member of his big family - he's the fifth of 12 children - with a whole lot of size or even a passing interest in sports. Until the summer following his freshman year, Bob only had the latter.
"I was 5-9 my first year here," he said. " Then I grew to 6-feet and I've added four inches since. Just from last year to this year, I've added 30 pounds. I am very happy it happened. "
However, it didn't take Bob too long to realize the more he grew, the more his coaches and teammates expected.
"People naturally assume that if you're big, it means you're strong," he said. " Doc Cionci ( Dr. John Cionci, team physician ) taught me the importance of lifting weights, so I am strong. But it didn't just happen. I had to work at it.
"When you blow a play, you always feel stupid. But now that I'm bigger, I feel a little more stupid when I blow a play. When you're big, you're expected to go through the guy you're playing against like nothing. "
That doesn't always happen, though Manzi remembers that it sure did one day in practice, when the varsity was scrimmaging the JV.
"Chris and Bob converged on my little sophomore quarterback at the same time," Pat said. " I saw it coming and turned my head. I couldn't watch. All I could do was think, 'Please don't let anything happen. ' As it turned out, it wasn't very bad. "
"The juniors and seniors know us by now," Arnold said. " The sophs are still a little intimidated. "
They shouldn't be.
"Chris and Bob are quiet," Manzi said. " They wouldn't try to hurt anyone. They don't talk very much, but they've developed into good leaders. When we voted on co-captains, they were the overwhelming choices. "
When questioned about the interest they have received from colleges, Chris and Bob mentioned three schools between them, and both mentioned Memphis State. The Tigers must have written early. Manzi has shoved the other letters into a box. A large box.
"They're Division I players," Manzi said. " Chris is already huge and Bob could easily become huge. He could easily go to 240 or 250. Bob is probably suited to defensive end. Chris could be a great offensive tackle or center. Following the season, we'll give thought to what type of program would be best for them. "
Conlin has long looked past high school and college.
"If I go to a good school and continue to improve, I figure I'll have a chance at the pros," he said. " Being on TV. Being famous. I've thought about it a lot. It would be nice.
"The days that people will be impressed by my size are almost over. There will be a lot of guys in college my size. How big I am won't matter. I'll have to be aggressive and I'll have to be good. "
Right now, Conlin and Arnold are all three - big, aggressive and good.
"And they're only just beginning to scratch the surface," Manzi said.
That sound you just heard was more college coaches scratching out letters.
Malik Rose, Overbrook, Class of 1992
TUBA OR NOT TUBA
BROOK WIN CONTRIBUTOR SEEKS STATE BAND SPOT
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Sometime during Malik Rose 's college career, a reporter might be able to write . . .
Rose did it all. Scored, rebounded, blocked shots. At halftime, he even played in the pep band.
Rose, a 6-6 senior center at Overbrook High, is more than an All-Public basketball player and accomplished student (3.6 grade-point average with a course load including calculus). He also plays a mean tuba and is hopeful later this winter of making the all-state band, as selected by the Pennsylvania Music Education Association.
"I've been playing tuba since the sixth grade," said Rose, who also dabbles in the baritone. "I was the biggest kid, so the music teacher gave me the biggest instrument. "
Yesterday, Rose contributed 15 points, 16 rebounds and three assists as 'Brook downed visiting University City, 74-55. He also helped limit Jaguars star Rondell Turner, a 6-6 junior, to 10 points (3-for-18) and eight rebounds.
Rose is not an eye-popping runner and jumper, but a mid - or lower-level Division I school in need of a grunt man with all kinds of admirable qualities could not go wrong in pursuing him. Drexel and Rider are hard after Rose, who has scored 820 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, and Penn has begun to make inquiries.
"They don't come any better than Malik," said former 'Brook coach Mark ''Max" Levin. "If there were more kids like him, I'd still be in coaching. "
Rose twice has come within one step of making the all-state band.
"There's districts and regions, then the state concert," he said. "At the regions last year, there were 12 tuba players and the top six made it. The districts are at Penncrest High (Feb. 6 to 8), then it goes from there. The state concert is here in town. It was in Pittsburgh last year.
"I practice my music, but not as much as basketball. In college, I'd like to major in math and minor in music. I don't think I'll pursue music enough to try for the Philadelphia Orchestra, but I intend to stick with it. Maybe I could play in a community band someday.
"In basketball, you always have to stay hyped to succeed against the other big guys. You always have to think strong. Music takes the same kind of concentration and effort, but it's more relaxing. I do it to calm me down. "
As a ninth grader, Rose was cut from Overbrook 's junior varsity by current varsity coach Rick Beckett.
"Some guy was taking all the shots (in tryouts). It was making me mad," Rose said, smiling. "In 10th grade, if I hadn't made varsity, I don't think I would have tried out anymore. Mr. Beckett, that's my man. I can't say enough about him. He worked with me. Because of him, I'll have a chance at a free college education. I'm thankful. "
Rose also is indebted to Merv Jones, the Panthers' ex-football coach.
"He gave me a weight program to follow," Rose said. "It was hard. Power lifts, bench presses, squats, everything. It was military style. No lying down except for the bench press.
"I'm definitely stronger from last year. Smarter and quicker, too" - he laughed - "though Mr. Beckett probably wouldn't agree with that. I've learned more about playing. I used to rush, be herky-jerky. I'm more fluid now. "
Overbrook 's big scorer yesterday was 6-2 junior forward Ronald Kenan, who shot 13-for-20 en route to 29 points. Laurence "L" Pembrook added 11 points. For U. City, senior guard Bill Sheed and freshman swingman Rasheed Brokenborough had 15 points apiece.
Phil Gosselin, Malvern Prep, Class of 2007
GOSSELIN TOO BUSY TO STEW OVER LOSS IN
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
He never gets his Phil of baseball.
Good thing, too, because Phil Gosselin , a recent Malvern Prep graduate bound for the University of Virginia on scholarship, is pretty much married to the game already.
Yesterday afternoon, Gosselin thought long and hard, and then even did some extra pondering, and came to this conclusion: He had played in a baseball game every day for 2 consecutive weeks.
"In fact," he said, "the first time we played here, I had another game that night. "
Here was the University of Pennsylvania's Meiklejohn Stadium, site of the first two rounds in the Phillies-sponsored Carpenter Cup Classic for high school all-star teams from the tri-state area.
There was no other game to rush to. And there'd be no further 2007 CCC appearances for the 6-foot, 175-pound Gosselin and his Inter-Ac/Independents teammates.
In wickedly hot weather, I-A/I dropped a quarterfinal to Lehigh Valley by a score of 5-3.
Gosselin was prominent among those who were able to depart while flashing a hint of a smile, having provided the unchallenged highlight in the form of a two-run homer.
It came in a pinch-hitting role in the visiting fifth. With one out and Tommy Coyle (Germantown Academy) on first base, following a fielder's choice, Gosselin sent an impressive drive to exact left-center. The ball appeared to thump off the right portion of the scoreboard, about halfway up.
"It was a 2-0 count. I was looking for a fastball and he threw it right down the middle. I put a good swing on it," Gosselin said. "As soon as I hit, I knew it was gone. You just know when you hit one out. You get that feeling. I hit it right on the barrel. A rising liner. "
Gosselin at first declined to admire his handiwork.
"I just started running to first," he said. "I didn't watch because I knew it was gone. But when I did look up and saw the ball bouncing on the field, I wasn't certain. 'Maybe I didn't get it all. ' I was a little worried. Then I saw the ump twirling his index finger.
As Gosselin rounded third and trotted toward home, he was headed toward his parents and brother, Matt, a former Malvern basketball player (class of 2001). They were seated directly behind the plate.
He opted for the aw-shucks approach. He put down his head and did not show a hint of emotion until his teammates created a swarm.
This kid's so nice, he won't even use the homer to his advantage in who's-the-better-athlete discussions with Matt, who played college hoops at Bloomsburg.
"He's my biggest fan," Phil said proudly. "He took a half-day off from work so he could be here today. "
Gosselin's position, like always, was shortstop. He made a nifty, across-the-bag play on a tapper up the middle and his other plate appearance resulted in a groundout to shortstop.
As the game ended on a hard one-hopper to first by Coyle, Gosselin, representing the tying run, was fidgeting in the on-deck circle. And dreaming of the chance to provide more heroics.
"Our motto for Malvern is always, 'Get the next guy to the plate,' " Gosselin said. "I was hoping Tommy would punch one through. Doesn't always work out like you want. Seems like we're snakebit in trying to get to Citizens Bank Park [site of the semis and final]. "
I-A/I finished with six hits and frosh outfielder Jon McAllister (Chestnut Hill Academy) was the only guy with two. Another young buck, frosh first baseman Slater McCue (GA), collected the other RBI on a sixth-inning single that plated Malvern's Matt McEndy (double/error combo).
Soph lefty Tim Cooney (Malvern) allowed two unearned runs in his three-inning stint. The fifth was largely unsightly, but junior Chris Cowell (Malvern) came on to get the last two outs and then rang up uneventful sixth and sevenths.
Lefty Mark Adzick (Penn Charter), a recent 18th-round Phillies draftee and a Wake Forest signee, concluded his high school days with a 1-2-3 eighth.
Gosselin is playing American Legion ball for West Chester, as well as in that community's adult league.
"I'm used to [demanding schedules]," he said. "For Malvern, we always play about 40 games. Unless it rains, we're playing pretty much every day.
"It really helps you get in a zone. Getting at-bats every day. Seeing groundballs every day. When you go out on the field, you're really comfortable. "
Just about now, it's probably hitting Gosselin, also a basketball sub, that his Malvern days are history.
"It's been awesome," he said. "This tournament was great because I got to play one last time with the guys. I've been playing with Matt McEndy since I was 9 years old and against and then with Pete Greskoff since I was 10. They've been some of my best friends for a long time. "
They enjoyed watching the long drive, too.
Bryan Anderson, John Bartram, Class of 1998
BARTRAM BACK IN THE BIG TIME
HEAVILY RECRUITED ANDERSON ANCHORS HUGE, IMPOSING LINE
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
The topic was size and whether Bryan Anderson had always dwarfed most kids his age.
``Yes,'' he said, smiling.
Pause . . .
``Even back when I was born. Thirteen pounds. Two-foot tall. My mom always tells the story about how I couldn't fit in my incubator. ''
These days, Bryan Anderson , at 6-5, 320, is an outstanding two-way tackle for John Bartram High's football team and he is receiving persistent mail and telephone recruiting attention from most Division I programs in the East, South and Midwest.
Ain't size great?
``Except when you're trying to block little guys,'' he said, sitting in the stands, sucking on a plastic bottle of orange soda, waiting for his teammates and coaches to arrive so practice could begin. ``Like against Frankford [in the season opener last Saturday]. Some of their guys were maybe 5-10, 160, and they got real low. I practically had to crawl on the ground to block them. ''
Except when you're trying to buy clothes.
``The prices at the big-and-tall stores are ridiculous,'' he said. ``My shirts are 3X and 4X. My jeans are 46 by 32. My sneakers are size-16. For bigger sizes, you wouldn't believe how much everything costs. ''
Except when you're trying to keep a low profile.
``It's hard to go around unnoticed,'' he said. ``When you're this big, it's like everybody knows who you are. They want to come up to you, talk to you. ''
Luckily for Bryan Anderson , reluctant attention-getter, he's not the only Bartram behemoth. Nor is he the only ample Anderson. Stationed right next to Bryan on both lines is his brother, Keith, a 6-3, 305-pound junior who is three months shy of his 16th birthday. Fellow linemen Maurice Suggs and Sal Guida also top 300. At 250, Ken Curry is downright anorexic.
On offense, Bryan plays left tackle and Keith plays left guard.
``I figure if we can't gain yards behind them, it's time to pack our gear and go home,'' said first-year coach Frank ``Roscoe'' Natale. ``Anyway, it's not like the right side is weak. Maurice Suggs is a good player. He's getting some Division I interest, too. ''
For Bryan Anderson , the interest borders on insanity. Among his primary suitors are Michigan State, West Virginia, Boston College, Maryland, Notre Dame, Florida, Florida State, Tennessee . . .
``I can keep naming them,'' he said, cheerily.
``When I come home from practice, there's a stack of mail about 4 feet high. You want to open it, but you don't want to open it because of all the reading it's going to take. The letters from the coaches are all going to say the same things, just with different words. ''
Bryan's working list of schools he wants to visit, subject to change, consists of Michigan State, Boston College, West Virginia, Indiana and Maryland.
When Keith was asked to express his opinion on all the recruiting attention Bryan is receiving, he uttered one word.
He might get it next year.
``I hope so,'' he said. ``That's what I'm working toward. I have to get a little more like Bryan. Show a mean streak. He goes into a game [with fire]. Something has to happen for me to get mean, like getting hit real hard a few times or getting punched in a pile.
``I'm trying to get a little faster, too. I'm not slow, but I'm still a little too heavy on my feet. I wish my time in the 40 was about 4.9 instead of 5.3. ''
The Anderson brothers did not play football as freshmen. Their parents, Joseph and Patricia, demanded that they first make the honor roll in their classes at Bartram 's business annex, 64th and Elmwood, seven blocks from their home near 71st and Elmwood.
Bryan entered this school year with a 3.8 grade-point average and an 890 score on the Scholastic Assessment Test. Keith last year fell 7/10ths of a point shy of joining Bryan in the National Honor Society.
Bryan wants to become an accountant.
``If a college is going to use me for football,'' he said, ``I'm going to use them for an education. I could never not take advantage of that chance. ''
For Keith, the chances of playing football once appeared slim.
In the fifth grade, he began passing blood and doctors discovered he had been born with only one kidney. His parents, understandably, were reluctant to allow him to play a sport as violent as football. But he wears extra protection on his left side and perhaps crosses his fingers for good luck more than most guys.
Thanks to its huge line and the talents of highly impressive rusher Paul Northern, Bartram is considered a contender for the Public League championship. Last Saturday's 37-12 loss to Frankford, the defending titlist, was a jolt, but the members of the Maroon Wave remain upbeat.
``We'll be looking to see them again in the playoffs,'' one said.
Down the road, there's a chance Bryan Anderson will be seen in the NFL.
When he watches games on TV, does he . . .
``Yeah, I do, I think that some day that could be me,'' he said. ``But I've got to keep a level head. Even college is in the future. I've got to play at Bartram first.''
Victor Hobson, St. Joseph's Prep, Class of 1998
PREP'S DEFENSE IS ONE BIG ZERO
by TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Victor Hobson sat hunched over in a chair, nervously clasping and unclasping his hands and speaking in little more than a whisper.
This is a tackling machine? This is the leader of a St. Joseph's Prep defense that has yet to yield a point this football season? Or is this an officer in the chess club?
Excuse us, Victor, but how do you rally the troops with this kind of personality?
Assistant Ralph Rapino, sitting nearby, rolled his eyes and laughed.
``Phew,'' he said. ``I'm staying out of this one. ''
What you get from Victor Hobson during an interview in a small office at The Prep is not what you get on a football field.
You want fury? You get it. You want yelling? You get that, too. The worst thing about being a Prep defender and blowing an assignment is knowing Hobson will scorch your ears when the unit huddles up.
If not sooner.
``Sometimes we have to calm him down,'' coach Gil Brooks said.
And fight the urge to jam a sock in his mouth.
``I'm shy around people, basically,'' Hobson said. ``On the field, I just change totally. ''
Thanks to Hobson's physical skills, well-developed instincts and relentless goading of teammates, The Prep has posted five consecutive shutouts while storming to a 5-0 start.
The Hawklets played football informally as early as 1903, and they've been at it full time straight through since 1917. All evidence points strongly toward five consecutive shutouts being a school record.
St. Joe's has defeated Gonzaga, of Washington, D.C., 17-0, Episcopal Academy, 10-0, Archbishop Ryan, 20-0, Monsignor Bonner, 24-0, and Roman Catholic, 26-0.
Ryan twice came close to scoring, advancing to the 3 on one drive and to the 4 on another. Roman had a chance on a kickoff return, but kicker Tim D'Lauro, a soccer player, saved the streak by making an initial hit and getting help from backtracking bomb-squaders.
The starters for defensive coordinator Chris Lomax are ends Brad Blaisdell and Kevin Komelasky, tackles Dan Gress and Matt Ferroni, linebackers Sean Killeen, Aaron Brown and Hobson, cornerbacks Bill Keller and Jermaine Slade and safeties Brendon Pluck and Brian Kraus. Tackle Jim Judge, end David O'Neill and linebacker John Saia also see appreciable playing time. Dave Hand started at safety (and quarterback) until injuring a knee against Ryan.
``Our goal is to go out and play well,'' Hobson said. ``The shutouts come along with that. We might look forward to getting them, but it's not our overview. Once we get one, it's pretty exciting.
``Defense is concentration, determination. If you're determined to shut the other team down . . . so far we've been able to do it. It's overall heart, who wants it the most. ''
These zeros are nothing new. The Hawklets notched seven shutouts last season, when they advanced to the Catholic League semifinals, and their shutout hot streak, so to speak, stands at 11 in 14 games. Ryan managed 12 shutouts in 14 games in a hot streak spanning the '91 and '92 seasons and games Nos. 9 through 14 were consecutive (though both teams were scoreless in one).
``We weren't thinking about shutouts too much at all last season,'' Hobson said. ``Not until midseason when they started adding up and people started talking about them. This year, it's just carried over. ''
Graduation claimed only end Fran McCartan, linebacker Brendan Burke (son of basketball coach Ed Burke) and back Mark Fleming, so Brooks was well aware The Prep would again be strong defensively. Having a stud such as Hobson was a bonus.
The 6-2, 210-pound Hobson, a starter since early in his freshman season, and Frankford running back Eddie Gaskins last year were only the second and third sophomores to earn first-team Daily News All-City honors. They joined 1985 Bonner grad Ed Monaghan, who went on to play at Penn State.
When Brooks, who's excitable anyway, talks about Hobson, he turns into Gil the Gusher.
``Extremely talented. Natural strength. Great quickness. Instinctive,'' Brooks said rapid-fire. ``I'm forever telling him to make sure he pays attention to his reads and keys. But instinctively, he usually gets right to where the ball is. For a middle linebacker, the toughest play is usually a counter, because your reads take you away from the ball. He's even very good at making that play. ''
Two years ago, Brooks tagged Hobson ``The Pup,'' because his hands and feet were so big, ``he reminded me of a St. Bernard. '' Now he's known as ``Big Dog. ''
Hobson's coming-out party came in '94 in a 14-14 tie against Archbishop Carroll, which advanced to the CL final.
``Awesome game,'' Brooks said. ``He was layin' people out. I knew right then he was special. Know what? At the banquet that year, Vic told his mother he was going to make All-Catholic and All-City as a soph. Darned if he didn't.''
Hobson lives in Mount Laurel , N.J., and attended grade school at Our Lady of Good Counsel in nearby Moorestown. Hobson said he heard good things from OLGC grads who went on to The Prep and decided to try it, too. Otherwise, he probably would have attended Lenape, as did his brother, Matthew, or Holy Cross, where ex-Phillies slugger Greg Luzinski once coached.
Audrey Hobson said her son's football demeanor doesn't surprise her.
``He was a big baby - 9 pounds, 5 ounces - and he's always been into roughhouse,'' she said. ``He and his brother used to wrestle. His brother liked to throw Victor in the air. ''
She laughed. ``He probably hit his head a couple of times . . . There was never any broken furniture, but they put a couple of holes in the walls.
``Victor's good at competing against older children. In football, he always played against guys maybe two years older. When he goes to play [pickup] basketball, it's against guys maybe four years older. He has always been strong. ''
``He's just quiet and reserved around adults,'' Audrey Hobson said. ``His friends tell me he likes to clown around them.''
``He can be goofy,'' Brooks said. ``I'll walk out on the field and he'll be wrestling with Kraus or maybe with Hand. But he knows when to get serious. On game days, he's as intense as anybody as I've ever been around. He is ready to play some football. ''
And search for goose eggs.
Randy Woods, Ben Franklin, Class of 1988
FEARLESS GUARD KEEPS FRANKLIN OUT OF THE WOODS
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
In the gunfighter eyes belonging to Ben Franklin's Randy Woods, a basket never looks too far away and the odds of making a shot never look too long.
Woods isn't fazed in the least when he's surrounded by three defenders, even when they're so close he can determine what they ate for lunch.
He knows there's a way to knife to the hoop for a layup, or to uncork a jump shot that barely disturbs the net while passing through.
Strangely, the 5-10 bundle of talent is perhaps his happiest on a basketball court after he misses four or five consecutive shots. Observers can just see him thinking, "This basket owes me. Now, I'm going to start making all kinds of shots. "
In part because of a downshifted tempo, Woods yesterday scored less than 20 points in Public League play for the first time this season. But all 16 of his points were appreciated, and needed, as Franklin escaped from Murrell Dobbins Tech a 63-61 winner.
Woods, a junior, missed his first six shots from the floor, but bounced back to finish 6-for-14.
You name the shot, Woods took it. And not once did coach Ken Hamilton consider giving Randy the hook, or even burning the back of his neck with a dirty look. Woods has an aqua light, the closest thing to a green light that Hamilton ever allows.
About a month ago, Will Bolds, the center on Franklin's 1984 Public League championship team, returned from college in Oklahoma and decided to attend a game.
Soon, he was saying to Hamilton, incredulously, "Ham, what has happened to you? Have you gone crazy? 'Rabb' (point guard Eric London) and Randy are taking shots that you would have killed us for taking. "
The response: "Rabb and Randy make them. "
The difference between the two is, when London (14 points, eight assists) shoots from far out, he invariably does so over a zone from a stationary position. But there is no way to predict the situations that might find Woods launching from a different area code.
It's hard to believe, but until a few years ago, Woods rarely shot a jumper.
"In the Sonny Hill Future League, where everything is man-to-man, I never had to shoot a jump shot," said Woods, who attended Edward Bok Tech as a freshman. "I'd drive to the basket all the time. In rec leagues, I used to score whatever I felt like scoring.
"When I came here and coach Hamilton put me at wing guard, I figured I had to develop a jump shot. Every day, I'd go to the schoolyard and practice on my own. I'd shoot nothing but jump shots. Twenty-four, seven. "
That's 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And the way Woods shoots, he might not be jiving.
Franklin grad Jerome "Pooh" Richardson, of course, is developing into one of the nation's top lead guards at UCLA. But Hamilton, without batting an eyelash, says Woods "might have the most ability of any player I've had . . . I'm talking about his ability to get two points.
"Even at his size, he's able to get a lot of offensive rebounds that he turns into points. The way he plays defense also allows him to score points aside from those he gets in the flow. What'd he have today? Sixteen? I would have guessed 11, like I usually guess. He gets so many points that I don't even notice. "
Woods probably never will play the point for Franklin, because sophomore Philip "Sub" Crump is scheduled to step in next year as London's replacement. But that's what Woods will play in college, undoubtedly in an explosive manner.
Bodies are not usually made with hands and feet as quick as Woods's. It's uncanny how he can dribble once, dribble twice, draw a crowd then - bang! - pull up for a jumper that's as soft as a baby's skin.
Which leaves players and fans looking at each other as if to say, "Where'd the ball go? Oh, it went in the basket? Two points are clicking onto the scoreboard? Franklin is now on defense? How'd that happen? "
As quick as Woods is to pull the trigger, he is not a young man without a conscience. As the clock ticked down to under a minute remaining yesterday, Woods made a nice pass to guard Shawn Frazier that resulted in two successful free throws and a 58-53 lead.
The spread then yo-yoed from three to five to three to five to three to four, when Frazier made only the front end of a one-and-one at 0:07. Lead guard Doug Overton (21 points, 7 assists, 6 steals) unfurled a wicked dunk for Dobbins at 0:01, but the Electrons were under orders to serve as spectators only.
Speaking of spectators, how does their presence, and their comments, affect a hyper sort such as Woods?
"The fans are just people getting over-excited," he said. "I can't listen to them because I'll get over-excited, too. I just try to play basketball and let the game come to me.
"When I was missing, I wasn't thinking, 'Uh, oh. This must be a slump. ' I just wasn't hitting. But I went more with the team flow, and by playing good defense, that helped my offense come around. "
"Randy's amazing," Hamilton said. "He doesn't think he can be stopped. He doesn't think he's ever going to miss a shot. One of the things I had to do with Randy was stop him from going bananas when he missed one. He can't belieeeeeve it when he misses a shot. "
No wonder. Most games, it doesn't happen too often.
NOTES: Franklin forward Bryant "Sad Eyes" Watson had 17 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals . . . Franklin is 13-2, and 7-0 in Division C. Dobbins is 14-4, 5-2 . . . Center Larry Stewart had 18 points and nine rebounds for Dobbins , causing Ken Hamilton to say, "I didn't know that kid was that good."
Christian "Ya-Ya" Walker, Kennedy-Kenrick, Class of 2009
KENNEDY-KENRICK'S WALKER DAZZLES
Puts on a show and a whole lot more in win over Archbishop Wood
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
The kid who wants to make The Show put one on. Both during and after the ballgame.
Fresh off an exciting Catholic Blue triumph, and with his heart still pumping, Christian "Ya-Ya" Walker stepped back into the batter's box and pounded baseballs all over Norristown's Latshaw-McCarthy Field. And beyond.
Jaws dropped, "ahhhhhs" were numerous and there was one report, as yet unconfirmed, that one guy's eyes popped out of his head.
All part of Walker's current world, folks.
Walker, a 6-1, 210-pound senior and South Carolina signee, alternates between third base and catcher for Kennedy-Kenrick High. While he has long been known for his power, he became something of a Paul Bunyan Jr. 4 months ago upon winning a national home-run-hitting contest at the stadium used by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Scouts already knew his name. Now they can tell you what the Limerick resident ate for breakfast 4 days ago, and whether he liked it.
First things first: K-K edged visiting Archbishop Wood, 6-5, on the strength of a memorable, yet sloppy, two-run seventh.
Walker powered a double to left-center and a triple to right - each produced one RBI - in the first and third innings, respectively. He lofted a way-up-there popup in the fifth and, with runners on first and third in the seventh, was issued an intentional walk that, yes, moved the potential winning run into scoring position.
Jim DiGuiseppe Sr., who co-coaches Wood with his son, Jim Jr., had no doubts about giving Walker the free pass.
"None. Not a one," he said.
Joe Harvey followed with a groundball that passed through the legs of third baseman Larry Brittingham, who took a three-hitter into the seventh and switched places with Matt McAllister after issuing a leadoff walk to the No. 9 hitter, Dave Custer.
Pat McCormick pinch-ran for Custer. Winning reliever Jimmy Volpe sacrificed him to second. Austin Kelly reached base on a strikeout/wild pitch combo.
"The intentional walk was frustrating, but I can't blame them," Walker said. "I kind of expected it. It was out of respect. "
Standing at first base . . .
"I was thinking about how Harvey always gets his bat on the ball," Walker said. "It was just a matter of whether he'd hit a sac fly or put it in play somewhere else. It happened to find a hole between the kid's legs. "
With the kind of intensity you usually would see after a championship game, the Wolverines swarmed McCormick and Kelly and then pulsated their way down the line toward Harvey. Everyone wound up where the dirt meets the grass beyond first base.
Soon, it was time for Home Run Derby. Check that. Hit It Hard Everywhere Derby. K-K assistant Matt Johnson threw about 25 pitches to Walker. A half-dozen left the yard, which features major league-type dimensions, and the wood-bat session, viewed by maybe 50 spectators, concluded with a blast well over the 383-foot sign in left-center.
It might have landed by now.
"I did try to end on a good note," Walker said, smiling.
Of the whole scenario, he said, "I love doing this. Now, it's just about an every-game thing. After experiencing so many [showcase events] all year, you get used to the atmosphere and just settle in.
"I just try to put good swings on the ball. On a couple, I do try to show them I've got some power. But mostly I'm just trying to hit line drives and show them I can go the other way. "
Walker said scouts seem to be split on whether he projects as a catcher or third baseman; he played the latter yesterday. There has been some talk about money, but no bonus minimums have been set.
"Pro ball has always been my dream," he said. "So I'm not going to pass it up if the right opportunity comes. I also want the best [for the future]. When it happens, I'll take a step back and decide which way is the right way to go.
"The teams keep saying they'll keep in touch or see me soon or get back to me, so that's all good news to hear. Some cross-checkers and regional scouts are involved. "
By now, Walker has learned to live with his big-basher rep and not allow it to consume him. Such perspective took time, he acknowledged.
"I'm not here to prove anything to anybody," he said. "I'm just playing my game. Helping my team. "
Dented baseballs included.
Kyle Eckel, Episcopal Academy, Class of 2000
EA FULLBACK STILL 'DOWNTOWN' GUY
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
The blood that runs through Kyle Eckel 's veins is still red.
Perhaps down the line, way down the line, that blood will turn blue, but don't expect the change to happen any time soon.
Kyle Eckel lives in Haverford Township and attends Episcopal Academy. His heart? That remains in the Packer Park section of South Philadelphia.
``I moved a few years ago,'' Eckel said, ``but I keep in touch with my friends downtown. ''
(Downtown. That's what all natives call South Philly. Using that word brands him as a loyalist.)
``I get down to my old corner, 18th and Johnston, a lot on weekends,'' he added. ``It's tough to do it during the week. Episcopal is pretty demanding. I've got to stay in and do my homework. ''
Yesterday, the assignment for Eckel and his football teammates was to beat visiting Germantown Academy in an Inter-Ac League opener.
They did. Like a drum.
With Eckel's 60-yard gain on his team's first play setting the tone, the Churchmen frolicked, 31-7.
Eckel, a 6-foot, 220-pound junior fullback, rushed 15 times for 130 yards and two touchdowns. The halfbacks, junior Nick Cannone (11-120) and senior Jeff Porter (5-103), also topped the 100-yard mark, thanks in large part to scoring bursts of 93 and 81 yards, respectively.
Eckel was only mildly disappointed when he was pushed out of bounds at the GA 30 on his first run.
``I was confident we'd drive right down and score,'' he said. ``The hole on that run was so big, it was like, `There'll be more like that the rest of the game. ' ''
Episcopal's offensive line included center Doug Hitchner, guards Jamie Creed and Pat Jacobs, tackles Greg Tokarczyk and Brett Carty and ends Fran Person and D.J. Gregory. Creed, in particular, made block after block downfield.
``That's what we try to do - go 100 percent to the whistle,'' Eckel said.
``We weren't surprised to win like this,'' he added. ``We know we're a good team . . . Well, we thought we were going to win, assuming we played hard. The point differential was kind of surprising. ''
Every Episcopal score followed a turnover. A.V. Cancelmo, Tokarczyk, Hitchner and Person recovered fumbles while Mike McGillian notched an interception. McGillian added another pick in the second half, in which GA saved face with Jon Neve's late, 4-yard scoring run against second-teamers.
While living downtown, Eckel played football for the South Philly Cowboys and St. Monica. He played as an eighth-grader for St. Denis, in Havertown.
``My parents said we were moving because they wanted me to go to better schools,'' Eckel said. ``I wanted to stay, but how much of a say did I have? I've made good friends at Episcopal and in my neighborhood, too. My best athlete friend from the old neighborhood is Danny Ferrazzano, a baseball player at GAMP. He's a junior, too. ''
Episcopal is off to a 4-1 start under interim coach Jim Auch, who came out of retirement to replace Roger White (recovering from health problems).
``We were disappointed for Coach White because everybody likes him,'' Eckel said. ``We thought we had a good team coming back, even though we're still young [four senior starters on offense]. Coach Auch forces us to be disciplined. He makes us work hard and do what he tells us.''
Steve Slaton, Conwell-Egan, Class of 2005
C-E'S SLATON APPEARS TO BE IN A RUSH FOR STARDOM
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
It's all about making 'em happy.
Steve Slaton runs the football with that thought in mind, and it came in handy during his stint as a summer camp counselor in Bristol Township.
The children were ages 6 to 11 and Slaton, a 5-11, 175-pound sophomore at Conwell -Egan High with vast potential (and high production, already), was assigned to the top-end group.
Did they drive him crazy?
"I always tried to walk in with a happy attitude," he said, smiling. "If you were mad, they could tell, and they knew how to get on your nerves. "
Kind of like knowing how to get through a defense.
C-E's season is only two games old, but Slaton, already, is exactly halfway to 1,000 yards. Saturday night in Levittown, in minimal action after halftime (and none in the fourth quarter), he rushed 19 times for 261 yards and four touchdowns as the Eagles pinned a 34-14, non-league loss on North Catholic.
His two longest TDs, on sweeps to the left, covered 87 and 57 yards, and he did not appear to be touched. On two other runs, he delivered punishing blows to tacklers that would have drawn raves from any fullback.
One negative: He lost two fumbles.
"He'll probably lose some more, but we'll live with it," rookie coach Kevin Kelly said. "He runs so hard and tries to get every possible yard. You don't want to take that [mindset] away from him. "
Slaton created quite a splash last season after being promoted to C-E's varsity for Game 3. In his first extended appearance a game later, vs. Cardinal Dougherty, he carried 22 times for a school record 290 yards. He went on to finish the campaign with the city record for rushing yardage by a freshman (916).
Slaton said he sometimes got tired last season because his endurance level was not where he would have liked.
"Since I wasn't on the varsity in the beginning," he said, "I didn't go through all the two-a-days in summer camp. I shouldn't have that problem this year. I think I've gotten better at picking holes and showing good downfield vision. I try to think of moves that'll help me get past the tacklers. "
He does that on the fly?
"I actually think about it before the games," he said. "It just happens during the runs. Moves pop up. It's a second-nature thing.
"On nights like this [slick turf], you can't cut as well. You have to concentrate on running north and south. "
"Well, not south. Just north. "
Slaton knew West Catholic's Curtis "Boonah" Brinkley scampered for 306 yards Friday night in a 32-29 win over Father Judge.
"It made me want to fight for more," he said.
The Slaton-Brinkley duel within a duel will be Oct. 12 in Levittown, but C-E's Catholic Blue opener will be Saturday night, also at home, against Archbishop Wood. The Eagles returned roughly two-thirds of their starters from a playoff team, and expectations are high.
Slaton, for one, has the proper mindset.
"People say I'm small," he said, "but you can't judge someone on their stature. I try to go out there and prove I'm as big as everybody else when it comes to heart.
"Our attitude is to go into games with our heads up and not treat any team like they're beneath us. We try to be more physical and give 100 percent. "
C-E's line included center Bill Jacobs, guards Brian Hrynczyszyn (say that fast once) and Rich Casmirri, tackles Evan Snydman and Matt Brazil and tight end Darin Lorady (starter Anthony Caranci was injured early). Dan Quinn provided the defensive highlight with a TD on a 36-yard interception return.
At the summer camp . . .
"We kept them busy with kickball and basketball," Slaton said. "We went on trips. Had them do artwork. Had clowns and magicians come in. We also had them put on shows. "
Steve Slaton could relate. He puts them on all the time. *
Dallas Comegys, Roman Catholic, Class of 1983
DALLAS TO PHILLY: I DID IT MY WAY
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Somewhere out there, Dallas Comegys probably could find a few people inside the Philadelphia area, and outside his immediate family, to say they agree with his decision to play college basketball at DePaul.
Yesterday at Roman Catholic, however, the vote against the Blue Demons was overwhelming-to-none.
"Every time I walked from class to class, guys were telling me, 'You should be going to Villanova,' " said the 6-9 Comegys, who confirmed during a 2 p.m. press conference that he indeed had spurned Villanova and La Salle in favor of DePaul. "I heard it constantly.
"But I told them the decision came down to what I wanted to do, not what other people wanted me to do. "
Did he tell them anything else?
"I told them if they studied hard," Dallas said, laughing, "maybe they would get the opportunity to attend Villanova someday. "
Actually, Villanova placed third in the Dallas Comegys Sweepstakes, as hard as that might be to swallow for Coach Rollie Massimino and the other basketball-crazed people in the city who figured that Dallas was signed and sealed after the Wildcats defeated Georgetown at the Palestra and North Carolina in Chapel Hill, moving into the Top 10.
Comegys indicated, however, he was swayed more by the fact that DePaul (14-9) has struggled this season, at least in comparison to the five previous seasons (132-15).
"Whether I attend Villanova or not, they're still going to be in the Top 10 because the program is very solid," Dallas said. "La Salle is at a point where they need more than one player to have all the success they might be capable of having.
"DePaul has a lot of good young players (the Demons currently start three freshmen and two sophs). Coach (Ray) Meyer has been saying they need a scoring forward who can play within the team framework. I feel I can go out there and have a successful career and help to re-establish the program.
"If I'd stayed home, there would have been a lot of pressure on me. People would have been looking for great things from me as a freshman. Out at DePaul, I'll just be another freshman going into a college program. I'll just be trying to establish myself and earn the respect of the Chicago-area people. "
If you're mounting a search to discover any underlying reasons behind Dallas's decision, call it off now. In many ways, he will attend DePaul simply because he has dreamed of attending the school since its Final Four appearance in 1978-79.
Comegys was an eighth-grader at the time, just starting to cultivate an interest in basketball.
"Often, we find that kids go with their original instincts on schools," Blue Demon assistant Joe Meyer, Ray's son and heir apparent for the 1984-85 season, told the Daily News several weeks ago. "Maybe it will work out that way in Dallas's case. We certainly hope so. "
"Getting a chance to play under Coach Meyer was a part of my dream," said Comegys, who was flanked by his parents (Dallas and Gertrude Johnson), sister (Sophia Comegys) and Coach Barry Brodzinski. "He's a man I have a lot of respect for. On and off the floor, he seems to be an open guy, one you can really trust and communicate with. DePaul gave all of us a good impression the whole time. We were very comfortable with the way DePaul handled itself. "
By awarding himself to DePaul, Comegys has earned a spot on the recent- vintage Leave-the-City team along with Gene Banks (West Philadelphia, Duke); Clarence Tillman (West Phila., Kentucky, transfer to Rutgers); Reggie Jackson (Roman, Maryland), and Horace Owens (Dobbins Tech, Rhode Island).
"There was a lot of pressure on me to stay home," Dallas said. "I was constantly stopped by people on the street telling me, 'Stay home. This is the place for you. ' And then they'd say the name of the school they wanted me to attend. I listened to the things people said because I appreciated their interest, but it still came down to what I wanted to do.
"When I got home from the game (Roman's 49-38 loss to Monsignor Bonner Sunday night), I went upstairs and told my mom and pop that I wanted to talk to them. I asked them what their feelings would be toward my going away. They said they'd feel comfortable whatever I decided to do, that they respected me enough to make my own decision. "
"We had an idea," Johnson said, "that Dallas was going to pick DePaul, but we weren't sure. "
People in Chicago tell us that DePaul had virtually given up hope of obtaining Comegys' services, merely because Villanova had enjoyed such a recent run of success against top-notch competition. Assistants Joe Meyer and Jim Molinari attended the Bonner game, but had no inkling that Dallas was ready to announce his decision as early as yesterday - let alone the fact that their school would emerge victorious.
"I finally talked to Coach (Ray) Meyer about 12 o'clock," Comegys said. ''He was kind of speechless and I could tell by his reaction that he was looking forward to having me on his team. The other coaches (Massimino, La Salle's Lefty Ervin) called our house, but they only talked with my father. So far, I haven't talked to either one. "
"Dallas knew we were reaching a point where something had to be done," Brodzinski said. "I feel he knew for about a week that this was what he wanted to do. He was just afraid to come out and say it. Basically, I kept asking him, 'Who's on your mind? ' He kept saying, 'DePaul. ' "
Three weeks ago, three pictures of Dallas Comegys wearing sweatshirts of the three finalists appeared on the back page of this paper.
He was smiling broadly in the Villanova picture, a little less broadly in the La Salle picture and, in the DePaul picture, he looked downright sullen.
"People mentioned to me," he said, laughing, "that they had me figured out by the pictures. But it wasn't anything I did on purpose. I wanted to be serious in all three pictures, but the photographer was trying to get me to smile. He kept making these little jokes. "
The instant they heard that Dallas Comegys had reached a decision, smiles were few and far between on the faces of the La Salle and Villanova people.
They weren't the only ones down in the dumps and/or befuddled.
"A few people around school gave me their congratulations and wished me luck," Dallas said. "But a lot of people said, 'I don't know what you did, but that's on you. '
"It came down to one thing: I always wanted to go to DePaul and I had the opportunity to go to DePaul. Now I'm going . . . and I won't look back."
Anthony Becht, Monsignor Bonner, Class of 1995
WEST VIRGINIA GOOD CATCH FOR BECHT
By Ted Silary, Daily News Sports Writer
Less than a week ago, Anthony Becht was feeling mighty bummed out about his chances of earning a Division I football scholarship.
Yesterday, he returned from the University of West Virginia having made an oral commitment.
If you didn't know it before, you know it now: The recruiting world works in mysterious ways.
While starring at receiver last fall for Catholic League champion Monsignor Bonner , the 6-6, 210-pound Becht, a second-team Daily News All-City selection, received mail from a number of Division I-A schools.
But when the season was over, the interest was limited to I-AA and Division II schools such as Northeastern, Maine, Indiana (Pa.), Kutztown and Millersville.
Becht's father, George, played Cecil B. DeMille, putting together a highlight film of his son's best moments. There were many; Anthony made 46 receptions for 757 yards and three touchdowns. He sent it to 30 schools.
"West Virginia was one of the schools that wrote a lot, but never followed up," said Anthony, who is Proposition 48 qualified. "I figured it was dead. But we called them (after the tape went out) just to see if there was still any interest, and about 3 1/2 weeks ago, an assistant coach, Bill Kirelawich, called back. He said he hadn't seen the film. "
Two more weeks went by.
"I figured it was dead again," Becht said. "But then he called (early last week) and said I looked pretty good. He wanted to know if I was really 6-6. He said, 'I'm willing to come up to your school to talk, but I don't want to find out you're only 6-4. ' This past Wednesday, he came to Bonner and said he liked what he saw. He offered me a visit. "
Zoom! Becht flew to West Virginia Saturday morning.
"Before I left, coach Kirelawich told me it was possible I was going to get offered," he said. "He said he couldn't make promises, but that he'd push for me. I talked to my parents before I left. They knew my dream was to get a chance at big-time college football. We pretty much agreed that if they offered me anything, I was going to take it.
"Coach (Don) Nehlen called me into his office (yesterday morning). He said he wasn't interested in all those blue-chip All-Americans. He said he was in dire need of a tight end and liked what he saw in me - a 6-6 frame that they could easily put weight on. He offered me a scholarship, and I took it."
Gene Schall, La Salle, Class of 1988
TALENT OF LA SALLE'S SCHALL BLENDS NICELY WITH HIS MATURITY
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Gene Schall was on a such a roll yesterday, he could have swept into New York and won the Democratic presidential primary.
First, Schall, a 6-3, 185-pound senior, pitched (a four-hitter) and batted (2-for-3, monstrous home run) in eye-popping fashion as La Salle High cruised to a 4-0 Catholic North baseball victory at North Catholic.
Then, he hustled back to La Salle and autographed scholarship papers offered by Villanova coach George Bennett.
"And what makes the day extra special," La Salle coach Joe Parisi said, ''is that today is Gene's parents' (19th) anniversary. "
Gene and Caroline Schall, take a bow and curtsy. In young Gene, you have reared an exceptionally well-rounded son.
He's bright (3.5 grade-point average), he conducts himself as a gentleman (Parisi: "The nicest kid I've ever coached") and all things, at all times, are kept in perspective.
Schall, a second-team Daily News All-City outfield pick in '87, collaborated with Parisi last September in writing letters to 20 colleges boasting of fine-to-excellent baseball programs. We're talking Arizona State, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina . . . along with some locals.
All 20 responded, but 18, except for Villanova and La Salle , did so with form letters. The kind that are replete with vague references such as, "We'll monitor your progress . . . "
But did Gene Schall get upset at the snubbings, especially those from warm- weather schools? Did he worry?
"No," he said. "I was getting ready to concentrate on basketball (where he played forward). I figured the baseball would take care of itself in the spring.
"First, I wanted to go to college for the education. Then I wanted to go for baseball. Villanova has both. I always looked at baseball as something that would get me into college more than as something I would be able to make a career out of.
"I mean, I always thought about (trying to play pro ball eventually). But I never envisioned it happening. I envisioned maybe playing college ball, then getting out into the work force. I figured there were probably 10 guys out there (with equal abilities) for every one of me. "
Maybe. Maybe not.
Parisi says Schall, who plays rightfield when he isn't pitching (and plays shortstop in American Legion ball), is "the best player, hands down, in the Catholic League; coaches have said that to me. And since the Catholic League is probably the best league in the area, there's a very good chance he's the best player in the area. "
You could prove it by yesterday's effort against North.
Using a fastball that is not overpowering but certainly quick enough and a big-breaking curve, Schall had to face only 20 batters through six innings. In the seventh, an infield single and two errors loaded the bases with no outs, but Schall ended the game in a tidy five pitches. He popped up shortstop Dave Markowski on an 0-2 fastball, then reliever Jeff Semon tapped the second pitch, Schall's 78th, into a 1-2-3 doubleplay, La Salle 's third of the game.
At bat, Schall first came close to de-teething starter Dave Heineman with a rocket of a line drive that Heineman somehow caught. Then he walked, used a house on O Street for target practice while clubbing a magestic, Dick Allen- type, two-run homer to left-center, and singled hard to left.
"I saw it all the way," Parisi said of Schall's blast. "See that house with the kelly green awning? It hit at the base of that house's wall. He didn't get all of it, either.
"It's funny. He's been saying his leg has been bothering him - a slight pull - when he has to start quickly. I told him the other day, 'Well, when we get to Piccoli (Playground, North's field), I guess you'll have to hit the ball over the fence. ' He obliged me. "
Through eight games for the unbeaten Explorers (3-0 league), Schall, a Willow Grove resident, is batting .409 (9-for-22) with 14 RBI. He also has walked 12 times. Pitchingwise, he is 5-0 with a 1.00 ERA. In three league appearances, he has allowed 1 earned run, 1 walk and 9 hits while striking out 19 . . . Not that he's been enjoying himself immensely.
"I like shortstop and I like the outfield," he said. "Pitching? It's fun at times, but it does tire your arm out. It makes it hard to come back the next day and throw from the outfield. I do like the competition part. You face one guy, then another, then another . . . There's a constant battle going on.
"I've been pitching since I was little, basically, because I was always the hardest-throwing kid on my team. But I've never considered myself to be a pitcher. I always have more fun taking batting practice than I do pitching batting practice. "
Schall said he has been told to expect to play anything from pitcher to first base to shortstop to outfield at Villanova. To which Parisi adds, "Even third base has been mentioned as a possibility. I guess it depends on the makeup of George's team.
"Already, the pro scouts have indicated a liking for Gene," Parisi continued. "After a couple of years in college, I feel he'll be a legitimate pro prospect. He'll get bigger, stronger . . . "
Yes, but you can count on Gene Schall 's hat size remaining the same.
AROUND THE BASES: Ed Weber, a junior catcher, had the lone hit (RBI single) in La Salle 's two-run second . . . Dave Heineman issued four walks in that inning. After yielding to Jeff Semon, Heineman told coach Larry Conti that he had injured his shoulder while throwing a first-inning slider to Gene Schall . . . Schall's father goes 6-4, 240, and is a certifiable sports nut. "He has taken me to Memorial Stadium, Yankee Stadium. He had me throwing a ball in the backyard when I was 2 years old. He never pushed me, though. He said if I wanted to play, I could." . . . Heineman went 2-for-3 and flied out deep to center . . . Play of the Game: Jack Stanczak, La Salle 's junior shortstop, reached to his right to glove Paul Larsen's semi-liner in the sixth, then whirled and threw to double Rich Friess off first.
Sharrif Floyd, Washington, Class of 2010
FLOYD'S PUNT BLOCK IS A WINNER
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
AT 6-4, 300 POUNDS, Sharrif Floyd is not easily worn down.
Physically, that is.
But in the middle of what has become a glorious football season for George Washington High, Floyd's spirit dipped to broken and finally, in a playful manner, he decided to keep his lips zipped.
"I kept asking the coaches when they were going to let me play defense," he said. "They kept saying, 'Next week will be your turn. '
"It kept not happening and I reached the point . . . Didn't make sense to ask anymore. I still kept hoping, though. "
Saturday, in biting weather at Northeast's Charlie Martin Memorial Stadium, Washington captured the first City Title available since 1979, by surprising to even shocking La Salle, 23-14, and Floyd . . . You know what's coming, right?
Yes, the junior stud, who also played guard, was one of the defensive heroes.
Floyd imposed his game-long will as a down lineman, recording three tackles behind the line (two sacks included) for 13 yards and helping to harass passer supreme Drew Loughery into three interceptions and just 12 completions in 33 attempts.
And then, with 3 minutes, 16 seconds remaining, he made The Block Heard 'Round the City Football World, batting Mike Donohoe's punt through the back of the end zone for a safety that made it a two-score game.
Before long, the Eagles were celebrating in passionate fashion and most were yelling, often multiple times, "Nobody thought we could do this! 'Cept us! " Oh, and they might have added a combined, say, 3,000 times, "We shocked the world! "
Was that how Floyd saw it?
"We took the fact people saw us as underdogs into consideration," he said. "If La Salle wanted it, they were going to have to take it. No way we were laying down.
"All we needed was for our coaches and staff and most of the students to be behind us. Those kids who said we'd lose, we blocked them out. "
Of his punt-snuff, Floyd said, "I came close to one before. I just was saying, 'I'm gonna get this. ' I swim-moved the up-back trying to block me, put my arms up and there it was. "
The start was Floyd's second on defense. He finally had been green-lighted in practice leading up to the Public AAAA final vs. Northeast, in which the Eagles earned a 41-34, triple-overtime triumph. His contributions to that one included a sack and other tackles-for-loss.
"The coaches said they wanted me to wait until I was really needed on defense," Floyd said. "I was happy when my number was called.
"On defense you're more hyper, but on offense you still have to be aggressive when you're doing your blocking. I love pass-rushing, and I knew I just had to keep getting in the quarterback's face. "
A crucial moment, as it turned out, occurred before the game when La Salle won the toss. Coach Drew Gordon, like always, chose to receive, placing the usual confidence in his potent offense. Washington coach Ron Cohen, of course, chose to kick with the strong wind behind Will McFillin's back.
By the third play of the second quarter, the Eagles owned a 21-7 lead thanks to runs of 22 and 6 yards by Kyle Glenn that sandwiched a 48-yard pass from Aaron Wilmer to Omar Hunter. Interceptions by Jamal Williams and Nate Smith set up two of those scores.
"I didn't expect the aftermath [of the take-the-ball decision]," Gordon said.
"They thought they'd move it down our throats," Cohen said.
The game's only other TD came on an 81-yard pass from Loughery to Sam Feleccia with 1:22 left in the third quarter.
Laughs were numerous after McFillin's popup punt hit lineman James Luckey smack on the top of his helmet with 2:40 left, but a return to business was quickly needed. Loughery was going to try to move his team quickly downfield.
Didn't happen. The Explorers had to settle for little-by-little and the thrust ended with Lorenzo Adams' leaping pick at 26.4.
Loughery, who was sacked six times for 36 yards, finished his season with 2,628 passing yards, just 19 short of the city record set by Brett Gordon, Drew's son and offensive coordinator, for La Salle in 1997. That season, Drew was Joe Colistra's OC.
Meanwhile, Floyd is one who got away . . . from Frankford.
He lives near Cheltenham and Tackawanna and attended one of Frankford's prime feeders, Harding Middle School. He said he was talked into attending Washington by a Harding gym teacher who at that time was a Washington assistant (but now works with Northeast).
In late December, Floyd will head for San Antonio to participate in a underclass combine connected with the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Funds for travel/lodging are being raised each Wednesday at Washington , when Floyd bakes brownies that are sold to students. Gooooood brownies, too. Floyd's dad, Anthony, is a chef.
"I don't cook that much," Sharrif said. "But I can make a lot of stuff. My best is fried chicken. "
A national profile. Pretty heady stuff.
"I have to keep it where it's at. Or even kick it higher," he said. "This feels great. I'm looking forward to the trip. I've never been any further than Pittsburgh." *
Emanual "Vel" Davis, Kensington, Class of 1986
DAVIS IS HELPING KENSINGTON MAKE ITS MARK
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Someone wondered aloud last year how Jules Mastbaum Tech could have missed the boat on swingman Emanual " Vel " Davis, then emerging as a force in Kensington High's basketball lineup. He is the brother of Charlie Davis , a forward starter for Mastbaum's 1981-82 Public League championship team.
''We didn't miss the boat on him," said Mastbaum coach Ralph "Bones" Schneider. "Unfortunately, he got in the boat, and sank. "
Davis, indeed, floundered in choppy academic waters when he attended Mastbaum in the 1982-83 school year. But he started to bounce back during a one-year stay at Wanamaker Junior High and glances at his report cards in 1 1/2 years at Kensington have produced many more smiles than frowns.
Thankfully, the respectable-grade disease is catching. Last year, coach Sonny Edelman was able to dress only five players for a game with Frankford that had to be stopped with 0:16 left when all but one fouled out.
Now, Edelman has what appears to be a stable nine-man nucleus and yesterday, at least, the returns - a 76-55 win over host Parkway - were highly impressive.
"It's fun this year. Everybody's happy. Winning motivates us more and more," said the 6-2 Davis , who had 21 points (9-for-12 from the floor), 15 rebounds, 3 assists and 6 steals. "Everybody wants to keep playing and to do that, they know they have to do OK in school.
"There's not much tradition at Kensington , but coach Edelman is trying to build one. He wants us to get noticed. "
When it was mentioned to Edelman that the Tigers looked capable of finishing second behind Olney in Division A, he flared, "Why behind Olney? If we stay together academically, we can win this division. "
For one thing, Bruce Harvey (22 points, 2 assists, 5 steals) ranks somewhere among the city's top five lead guards - even if some observers, Davis said, claim he looks to shoot a little too much - and 6-5 Victor Pettis and 6-3 Chris Stallworth (10 rebounds) are active inside.
"The people who criticize Bruce don't know," Davis said. "All you have to do is be ready for the ball. It comes your way a lot if you work to get open. "
Charlie Davis , despite being one of Mastbaum's lesser lights in 1981-82, was greatly appreciated by Schneider for his hustle and unselfishness. If a kid is going to play in the frontcourt at 5-11, he'd better do something right.
"Charlie helps me a lot," Vel Davis said. "He was the one who got me to concentrate more on defense. He said if I did that, the offense would come. I look for 'strips' or loose balls, and then I'm off the other way. When you're rebounding, one thing you have to remember is that the ball usually bounces off to the weak side. "
"Vel 's doing a great job for us this season at the three spot," Edelman said. "He's very unselfish. He has matured 100 percent from last year. Almost all of our kids have, really."
Lance Johnstone, Germantown, Class of 1991
BIGGER AND BETTER . . .
BEARS' JOHNSTONE HAS GROWN INTO A PROSPECT
By Ted Silary, Daily News Sports Writer
The irony will be delicious if Germantown High thrusts itself into the thick of the Public League Division B football race.
Lance Johnstone , a fullback-linebacker and the Bears' best player, was once so thin, his career nearly ended before it got started.
It's the fall of 1987 and Mike Hawkins, the junior varsity boss under coach Charlie Hicks, is holding tryouts.
Hicks saunters down to check out the prospects.
"You have to cut that kid," Hicks says, pointing to Johnstone. "Get him out of here before he gets killed. Look how skinny he is, man! We can't have people being carted off to the hospital. "
"But Charlie . . . ," Hawkins says, in protest. "I have to keep him. I know what he looks like, but he's my best tackler. "
In three years, Lance Johnstone has expanded from 6-foot, 140 pounds, to 6-3, 200 pounds. He also has evolved from a near-reject into a Division I prospect being contacted steadily by the likes of Nebraska, West Virginia, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Rutgers and Temple.
Yesterday, Johnstone rushed 11 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns, made a 29-yard reception for another TD and involved himself in 11 tackles, most of the jarring variety, as Germantown topped visiting Northeast, 18-13, in a non- league opener for both teams.
Hicks calls Johnstone "one of the best players, and hardest hitters, we've had around here in a long, long time. Also, he knows the game. You see certain plays being made and you don't even have to look. You know Lance made them. "
Johnstone, who runs 4.56 for 40 yards, last June was named the MVP of a full-contact camp at Shippensburg University.
"I was there when I was 8 or 9 years old," Johnstone said. "I didn't know what I was doing back then. This time, it was a big help. I learned a lot about reading my keys on defense and how to get better at eye-looks when running the ball. There were about 400 kids there, from all over the East. They split my age group, 16s and 17s, into four teams. "
A year ago, Johnstone was 6-2, 175.
"My legs are bigger, believe it or not," he said, laughing. "I wanted to get up to 200, which I did. I eat as much as I can. I tried some of that weight-on powder, but it didn't work. I don't pig out (at dinner), but I do eat all the time. I'm constantly getting something to eat. My mother always has to go around, saying, 'Clean up your dang mess! ' I can't help it. After I eat, I go off to watch TV. "
The first time he touched the ball, Johnstone received a good block from guard Byron Smith and burst up the middle for a 48-yard score.
On his second TD, he was split to the right. Just as he reached for the pass from backup quarterback Airrion Keenheel (starter Andre Thomas left with a knee injury), Johnstone was bumped off stride by Northeast's Scott Hunter, a promising sophomore. Johnstone maintained his concentration, made the catch and scored easily.
Score No. 3 was an 11-yard run, again up the middle. Johnstone had enough strength to bend over and hammer a good player, cornerback Bruce Harris, into the end zone. Also, it seemed as if he'd made the entire run in four steps, or less.
Talk about a loping stride.
"It's strange," Johnstone said. "I feel like I'm running fast. But when I look at the tapes, it looks like I'm running in slow motion. "
Like all but about 10 of his teammates, Johnstone is part of G-town's Lankenau Motivation program geared for students considered more apt to be college-bound. The building, which once housed the Lankenau School for Girls, is located off Ridge Avenue in Andorra. Lankenau's students - the current number is about 400 - at one time were considered part of Saul Agricultural School.
"It's different this year," Johnstone said. "Our team used to be about two-thirds G-town. Now it's the other way. Lankenau's a nice place. It helps you out academically. Jeff Coles, the other co-captain, and me were talking guys into coming out for the team. The only disadvantage is that the players are split between two schools. "
Before the season, Hicks stated Johnstone was already Proposition 48 qualified. Oh, well. Everybody's entitled to jump the gun once in a while. Johnstone said he has scored 660 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, but is confident of getting 700.
Already, Johnstone has made unofficial trips to Temple and West Virginia to watch games. This week it's Virginia. Among the passengers is Lance's brother, Brent, who starts at linebacker for G-town - as a freshman. The boys' sisters, identical 12-year-old twins Maya and Kala, are budding track stars.
"My parents (Isaac, Ann) support us all," Johnstone said. "Sometimes they're a pain in our butt, always pushing us to do our work, but it's all for the best. They do everything for us.
"Brent is going to be something. He's going to be better than me. I'm jealous of him already. He's starting on varsity in ninth grade. I didn't even make varsity until 10th grade. "
Make varsity? If Charlie Hicks had had his way back in '87, Lance Johnstone would have been forced to make tracks.
Away from football.
Jesse Levis, Northeast, Class of 1986
RECEIVING HIS DUE . . .
NORTHEAST CATCHER LEVIS BENEFITS FROM LONG HOURS OF HARD WORK
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
Jesse Levis can roll out of bed in the dead of winter and smoke a line drive.
And no one in his right mind would deduct artistic points merely because the pitches are thrown at half-speed.
Jesse Levis has been to baseball what forests have often been to fires - something to be consumed. It is not enough to say that Levis lives the game, breathes it, eats it and sleeps it.
Youngsters across the nation profess to love baseball. But in climates similar to this area's, that love usually slips into hibernation as soon as August is ripped from the calendar in favor of September.
Heck, what September signals to Jesse Levis , Northeast High's standout catcher, is that four-plus good months remain in his personal, elongated season.
"If you come past here (Northeast's field) almost any time of the year," said coach Ben Rosner, "you'll see Jesse working. "
"I've been out here as late as January," Levis acknowledged. "I'll grab somebody, usually (teammate) Jason Kolinsky, and work on my game. You can always work on your throwing. We also have what we call soft-toss batting practice. "
The only thing that puts a stop to this literal version of winter ball is snow.
His abundant ability and unmatched work ethic have enabled Jesse Levis , who recently accepted a scholarship offer from the University of North Carolina, to blossom into "the best catcher in this area; that's talking high school and college," according to a major league scout who requested anonymity.
The scout said the 5-9, solidly built Levis can "flat-out receive and flat-out throw" and could very well surface as a high-round pick when the June free agent draft rolls around. "The only thing that could scare some teams off," the scout cautioned, "is his size. "
Those comments were solicited yesterday as Levis celebrated his 18th birthday by leading host Northeast to a 3-2 win over Roxborough in a 10-inning Public League classic.
Levis walked in his first at-bat, then went 2-for-4 with an inside-out double to left and a seed of a triple to right-center. The triple came on a 3-0 fastball with one out in the 10th and turned into a run when reliever Bob Wunder uncorked a wild pitch.
Levis is 6-for-11 (.545) in five games, with two doubles, a triple, a homer and four RBI. Last year, he was 26-for-46 (.565) with 4 doubles, 3 triples, 9 homers and 30 RBI.
But, as the scout implied, Levis's defense is what sets him apart. Teams rarely dare to attempt steals, so Levis has learned to humor himself by throwing behind runners who edge too far off base. But even that fun didn't last long yesterday. Levis caught a runner off first in the very first inning - only to see first baseman Kenny Smith struggle with his footwork and make a late tag.
"Jesse can throw whenever and wherever he wants," Rosner said. "He's one of the few kids I've let take over. Unless I specifically want something done, he dictates everything. I have that much trust in his baseball knowledge. "
Between now and June, the scouts will attempt to gain as much knowledge as possible about Levis in regard to his "signability. " That's not a real word to you or to Webster, but it means everything to scouts.Nothing pains baseball people more than using a high-round selection on a schoolboy player only to hear him say he is headed for college, no matter what. Unless, of course, the team wants to offer a six-figure bonus.
As much as Jesse Levis loves North Carolina, which he selected over Georgia Tech and some other schools he decided not to visit, it appears his decision is not carved in stone.
"I've wanted to play pro ball all my life . . . I just want to play pro ball," said Levis, who would join former Northeast first baseman Howie Freiling, currently a sophomore, at North Carolina. "I wouldn't want to put a money label on anything. I'm not going to come out and say I want $100,000. What it will come down to is how badly I want to play pro ball.
"I wouldn't sign for $200, or even $5,000. I realize this is my year to bargain. I realize I have the chance for a good education, and maybe the chance to play in the Olympics. I also know I want it (to be a pro) badly. "
Levis says he became interested in baseball as a result of tagging along to games with his brother, Jules, an outfielder of some note for Northeast in 1982 and '83. Interest turned to passion one day in June 1981, when he happened to drive past Northeast with his mother and stopped to watch a Public semifinal involving Central and Frankford.
The city's best catcher at that time was Central's John Marzano, who later starred for Temple, made the '84 Olympic team and is now playing for the Boston Red Sox's farm club at New Britain, Conn., in the Double A Eastern League.
"He struck out a couple of times," Levis said, "and Jules was saying, 'He doesn't look that good. ' But he made a snap throw to first that looked major league to me. I thought, 'I'd like to be that kind of player someday. If I work at it, I'll be able to do that. ' At the same phase of our careers, I feel I can play with John Marzano. In some ways, I might be better. "
In the past, Levis has impressed in American Legion, the All-American Amateur Baseball Association, the Pen-Del League and the Perkiomen Valley Twilight League. He also has profited from the guidance of Steve Kolinsky, who coaches Cheltenham High and inched as high as Triple A in the minors.
Kolinsky's sons - Jason is a sophomore and Mike is a senior - play shortstop and centerfield, respectively, for Northeast. Jason aided yesterday's cause with a two-run homer and Mike went 2-for-4.
"I always practiced a lot, but Steve Kolinsky taught me how to practice right," Levis said. "My dedication? I guess it comes from confidence. I strive to be the best I can be, and when I see myself get better, it makes me want to work even harder. I love baseball so much. It's hard to even explain. "
"Jesse's the first one out and the last one to leave," Rosner said. "A lot of coaches say that, but it goes even further with Jesse. When he goes home, he only stays for a little while and then he's back here again. A gym teacher here, Ted Vogel, is Jesse's back neighbor. He says he's always hearing Jesse bouncing a ball off a brick wall. That's his bad-pitch drill.
"He has all kinds of drills he works on. I had only one other catcher on varsity last year and Jesse wore the kid out. I kept two kids this year. They should be on JV, but they know they'll benefit just by being around Jesse. "
Next January, if you ride past Northeast and see those two kids hitting baseballs to the accompaniment of their own chattering teeth, you will know who to credit.
Tom Savage, O'Hara, Class of 2009
O'HARA QUARTERBACK SAVAGE TO PLAY AT RUTGERS
By Ted Silary
JUST AS HE'S not an average quarterback, Tom Savage was hardly the typical little-kid football fan.
"I liked Texas' uniforms because of their colors," he said, "but I can't say I had a favorite team.
"Things probably would have been easier if I did have a favorite team back then. I could have been saying all along, 'I know where I'm going. ' "
Burnt orange. Scarlet red. At least color cousins.
Savage, a junior at Cardinal O'Hara High who weighs 217 pounds and stands just a shade under 6-5, yesterday convened a press conference at his school to confirm what had been widely rumored as the week wound down: His next stop will be Rutgers.
The event, well attended by media members, was scheduled for 2 o'clock, but was delayed for close to 20 minutes because guys coming down from New York were stuck in traffic.
Flanked on one side of the auditorium stage by coach Danny Algeo, and the other side by his parents, Linda and Tom , Savage read an opening statement, tugged on a Rutgers hat and then fielded questions.
As became evident, he's going to help the Scarlet Knights l-o-n-g before he fires a pass.
In fact, right now, the football program could make him an unofficial recruiter and/or public-relations specialist.
More than once he said he's already telling possible recruits, "If you want to build something special, come follow me. "
Rutgers, of course, is hardly a longtime power. Nevertheless, Savage said he found the place appealing 2 years ago while attending a camp there and nothing that has happened since has altered that mind-set.
Algeo said Savage had 20-plus scholarship offers and that the number probably would have doubled if the process had been extended. An original plan was to narrow the field to five by Memorial Day and make a decision by the start of camp in mid-August.
Savage made a not-too-taxing trip to New Brunswick, N.J., on Tuesday and by Wednesday night was telling Algeo he was ready to commit to Greg Schiano University . . . oops, Rutgers.
But don't kid yourself. Schiano's presence is a major reason and Savage went so far as to say he would have considered joining the coach at his new school if he'd been lured away from Rutgers this past winter.
"I told him I want to play for him," Savage said. "He's a big part of what's going on at Rutgers. I feel he's building something special. "
Mike Farrell, a national football recruiting analyst for rivals.com, said Savage is Schiano's "biggest out-of-state pull since he arrived, for many reasons. "
He added: "To get a national top-25 player and top-five pro-style quarterback who had offers from Miami, FSU, Tennessee, Georgia, Penn State and other top programs with more tradition and bigger national coverage and fan bases shows Schiano's recruiting ability. Savage has NFL potential and is easily the best QB on paper Schiano has landed at Rutgers. And make no mistake about it, this was a Schiano recruiting job: He was the main reason for Savage's interest and commitment. "
Savage entered O'Hara highly touted and shared the QB spot as a freshman with Anthony Walters, now a star defensive back at Delaware.
His career numbers are 190-for-426 for 2,547 yards and 20 touchdowns. He missed five games last season due to injury. His brother, Bryan, a product of Haverford School, is the starting QB at Hofstra and has one season of eligibility remaining. He first attended Wisconsin, then made an interim stop at Coffeyville (Kan. ) Community College.
The distance from home became difficult for Bryan when things never clicked at Wisconsin. Although Tom said Rutgers' proximity to Philly was not a direct factor in his decision, he did add, "It's always better to be an hour-and-a-half away so I can come back and see my parents. "
The other members of Savage's Final Five were Georgia, Miami, Tennessee and Louisville.
At Rutgers, he won't be expecting instant stardom.
"I know there's going to be competition there, just like at every top school," he said. "Talent's going to take over sooner or later. I'll just go there, put my head down and work hard. Whatever happens, happens. "
Also yesterday, Algeo announced that Savage was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, set for Jan. 3 in San Antonio, and that George Stratts, Algeo's predecessor at O'Hara and now the school's principal, will be inducted into the Pennsylvania Football Coaches Hall of Fame in connection with the Big 33 game, set for June 14 at Hersheypark Stadium.
Northeast receiver Je'Ron Stokes also was selected to play in the Jan. 3 game.
Aaron McKie, Gratz, Class of 1990
BULLDOGS' MCKIE BEGINNING TO SHOW COMPLETE PACKAGE
By Ted Silary, Daily News Sports Writer
In a costume store somewhere, a fake gray beard is waiting to be purchased by Aaron McKie .
In an amazing transformation, executed only within the past few weeks, McKie has become the wizened "old head" of the Simon Gratz basketball team.
With the help of coach Bill Ellerbee, McKie, a 6-4 swingman and Division I prospect, has learned a staple: A reputation can be established by doing one thing extremely well. To enhance it, a player must provide impressive answers to the question, "OK, so what else can you do? "
Yesterday, Aaron McKie , jump shooter, was Aaron McKie , complete player, as the Bulldogs (14-4) downed visiting Franklin Learning Center (10-1), 60-45, in a Public League game that started a half-hour late and almost never started at all.
Do you really want to hear this? What happened was, one referee never appeared so the other, Caesar Williams, eventually placed a call to referee Leroy "Sweets" Alexander, who lives nearby. When Alexander walked into the gym, FLC coach Pete Merlino, who has not been pleased with Alexander's officiating in the past, complained loudly ("I just don't like him doing our games") and refused to play.
When Alexander heard Merlino, he muttered, "I won't be doing it, don't worry," and started to leave.
Finally, Charles Lotson, Gratz's athletic director, convinced Alexander to stay and told Merlino, in effect, this isn't your home game and you can't control who referees, so let's just forget all this and play.
Merlino and Alexander jawed briefly at the end of the third quarter, but there were no major flareups. Afterward, Alexander wore a bewildered look on his face and commented, "I don't know what I ever did to him. "
Anyway, once the action began, McKie shot 5-for-11 (one "three") and 6- for-8 for 17 points, grabbed 4 rebounds, dished 5 assists and hustled for 3 steals (the game was mostly slow-paced, so truly eye-popping numbers were unattainable).
On many occasions, the old Aaron McKie would not have done much more than score 17 points. But oh, how majestic he would have looked while scoring them. Some people still are talking about the shooting clinic McKie put on last January at Frankford, when he sniped 13-for-23 and 3-for-3 for 30 points.
Almost every field goal was a picture-perfect 12 - to 14-footer.
"I've been talking with Aaron," Ellerbee said, "about how he has to become a complete player. Now, he's starting to enjoy this. The other day against Dobbins, he had a real nice game; almost a triple double (points, rebounds, assists). On our trips (to Las Vegas and Atlanta), I mentioned how important it is for him to involve everyone in the offense. I said, 'It's no use having five thoroughbreds if you're only going to use two. ' He understood. "
Read these thoughts, if you don't believe:
"If I just shoot, and keep going one-on-one against people, my teammates are going to get lackadaisical," McKie said. "They're going to fall asleep. They won't want to rebound. They won't want to run. That would bring us apart. We want to play as a team, not individuals.
"It's my job this year to control the team. To keep everybody's head into the game. It's a pressure job, but I look forward to doing it. It's all about maturity. As you grow, you mature. If you don't, at least as a basketball player, you're just 'out there. ' You don't become any better. "
Last fall, McKie made official visits to Temple, Duquesne and Coppin State, in Baltimore. Northeastern also figures prominently and McKie said that "a lot of West Coast schools" approached Ellerbee for information when Gratz competed in Vegas.
The place where McKie most wants to play college basketball, however, is four blocks west and four blocks south of his home, near 10th and Susquehanna.
"I'd like to go to Temple," McKie said. "I think I could bring something to the team. I like the way coach (John) Chaney runs his team. His offenses and defenses are very similar to what coach Ellerbee uses.
"Temple sees me as a 'two' (wing guard) or 'three' (small forward), maybe even a 'one' (point guard). They like me (basketballwise). They just want me to show that I'll stay on top of my books, which I am. The only time I leave the house is when I know I'm caught up, when I know I can spare the time. "
McKie, who has not yet scored 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test but does figure to graduate with a 2.0 grade-point average, is not particularly jetlike and is not an oohs-and-aahs ballhandler. However, Ellerbee feels McKie would have no problems playing the point in a collegiate setting.
"Aaron might be the second-best point guard in the city behind Jonathan Haynes (Germantown Friends, Temple signee)," Ellerbee said. "The way Levan (Alston) can shoot it, I wouldn't lose anything putting Aaron on the point. Aaron is very heady. He knows what to do, how things work. That's why we close out games with Aaron handling the ball. "
Three years ago, the ball most handled and thrown by McKie was a football. He played part of a junior varsity season at Abraham Lincoln, then transferred to Gratz for 10th grade.
"In junior high, I wasn't much into basketball," McKie said. "But I used to live right around the corner from Belfield Recreation Center (where Ellerbee works part time), and when I got more interested in basketball, Mr. Ellerbee taught me everything. How to play. How to discipline myself. How to carry myself. I went to Lincoln thinking football. But when I thought basketball instead, I decided I'd have the best chance to become a good student-athlete under someone like Mr. Ellerbee. "
FLC drew within 46-41 with 5:00 left. But a backbreaker occurred when Gratz's 6-8 Rasheed Wallace, a freshman, missed two foul shots, somehow got his own rebound (Gratz had no one on the sides of the lane) and handed to McKie, who drove for a scoop-shot layup . . . Gratz's Harry Moore had 12 points and nine rebounds . . . FLC's Faron "Meatball" Hand, a 6-5 sophomore, had 18 points and eight rebounds. Isaiah Russell, another sophomore, added 14 and 13.
Bobby Higginson, Frankford, Class of 1988
FASTER THE PITCH, BETTER HE LIKES IT
By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer
For Frankford High second baseman Bobby Higginson , fastballs that sizzle like bacon are something to scoff at, and to turn on.
They are nothing to fear. Nothing to marvel at. They are something to hammer, to punish, to send toward rightfield with much more velocity than they had while zooming toward the plate.
If you can throw a baseball more than 80 mph, you probably can find a spot on the list of Bobby Higginson 's 10 favorite people.
If you have trouble approaching 70, try to eradicate yourself from the face of the earth.
"I hit fast pitching a whole lot better than I hit slow," Higginson said.
Those words could find a spot on the list of Bobby Higginson 's 10 most memorable understatements.
Yesterday, Higginson, a lefthanded hitter, extended a three-game slump to 0-for-10 proportions - he went 0-for-2 with 2 walks, 2 steals and 2 runs scored - as Frankford topped visiting Roxborough, 9-3, in a Public League game.
But before that, he had been an inferno. He went 7-for-8 with nine RBI against Southern junior Robert Hale and Central senior Jason Lavala, two of the league's hardest throwers. Higginson had two doubles, a triple and two homers in that spree.
One of the homers, hit to rightfield against Southern at Frankford, sailed over Large Street before finally being stopped by a tree. A tree stationed two houses down along Kenwyn Street.
Higginson said modestly, "That kid threw real hard. I just swung. He supplied the power. "
Not entirely true. For the past 1 1/2 years, the 5-10, 165-pound Higginson, who ranks 28th academically among 544 seniors and has scored 890 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, has worked tirelessly on improving the strength in his wrist and forearms. As a result, his hands are ultraquick.
"My father (Bob) made something to help me," Higginson said. "It's a broomstick with a string attached to the middle, and there's a 10-pound weight attached to the bottom of the string. I hold the stick here (waist level) and roll the weight up, then roll it back down. Over and over. My father said he saw Mike Schmidt doing something like that on TV once.
"I do it from the time our season ends with the Frankford Boys Club until the time the next season begins with Frankford. I even did it all through football (in which he started at defensive back and punted). I don't do it now only because I'm superstitious. "
Despite his recent slump, Higginson is batting .472 (17-for-36) with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homers and 20 RBI overall. He gets to first base in 3.8 seconds, has 8 steals and has scored 14 runs.
"Bobby hits the good pitchers," Frankford coach Dick Connolly said. "The last few games, we've been seeing the garbage men; they're guys he has trouble with. But that's nothing to be concerned about because that adjustment can be made.
"For a while there, he was on an incredible roll. He looked like the best hitter I'd seen in a long time. He hit nothing but ropes. I was afraid he was going to hurt people. "
Yesterday, against Roxborough pitchers Chris Deskowicz and Eric Kay, the damage was done largely by rightfielder Mark Dooling, who had a pair of RBI doubles, and by righthanded pitcher Dave Boice, who had a three-run homer while holding Roxborough to four hits.
For Higginson, a regular on the pay-as-you-hit, batting-cage circuit, "the ball looked as big as a grapefruit, just like it did (during the hot streak). But now I'm overswinging. I'm trying to long-ball everything. Mr. Connolly told me today that I'm too anxious, that I'm jumping at balls. I have to cut down my swing, get back to the way I was hitting earlier in the season.
"Then, it felt like I'd hit a line drive every time up. Like nobody could get me out. The ball looked like it was just sitting there over the plate, waiting for me to kill it. "
When Higginson first immersed himself in the Frankford Boys Club's programs, his preferred sport was football. But his feelings began to change as he grew older - mostly because he didn't grow larger.
"In football, it seemed like everybody was bigger and stronger and faster than I was," he said. "It seemed like they hit harder, too. In baseball, if you can hit the ball, you can compete at this level. At least that's the way I feel.
"I definitely want to play Division I. La Salle would be my first choice, though I'm sure I didn't impress anybody today. "
It is Connolly's opinion - and a couple of scouts seconded it yesterday - that Higginson, an average glove man, probably would figure as an outfielder on the college level.
"What he is, is a hitter," Connolly said. "A flat-out hitter. He has a certain air of confidence about him, which is good. I like that. He believes he can hit anybody.
"Plus, he loves baseball. You could see he was into the game when he was a little kid in ninth grade, playing JV. If we had a game at 6 o'clock Sunday morning, he'd be here. "
And, within minutes, Bobby Higginson would be muttering if the opposing pitcher failed to throw him a quality heater.
Roderick Coleman, Gratz, Class of 1995
COLEMAN KEYS GRATZ'S ROUT OVER ROXBOROUGH
by Ted Silary, Daily News Sports Writer
Roderick Coleman once thought he wanted to be a veterinarian.
While growing up in North Philadelphia and Vicksburg, Miss., with his grandmother, Alma Brown, and mother, Carolyn Coleman, respectively, Roderick cared for a large assortment of dogs, hamsters and snakes.
Then came the 1991-92 school year, when Coleman enrolled as a freshman at Saul Agricultural, a public school in Roxborough.
"When they started cutting up cows, that was it for me," he said. "I didn't like being around any dead animal. "
These days, Coleman thinks he wants to work with computers. If the 6-3, 230-pound senior, an offensive tackle and defensive end, keeps playing football the way he did yesterday, he might get the chance to prepare for that vocation for free.
Coleman made seven solo tackles, including two for losses, and forced a fumble to lead Simon Gratz past visiting Roxborough, 36-6, in a Public League game. Also, his blocking - along with center Sean Watson, guards Terry Boyd and Cleveland Johnson, tackle Curtis Bostick and alternating tight ends Michael Henry and Terrence Hines - helped rushers Charles Singleton (12 carries, 85 yards, three touchdowns) and Quincy Brown (18-for-101, one touchdown; he had another on a 57-yard interception return) post impressive statistics.
He also averaged 48 yards on six kickoffs.
"This is my first year kicking," said Coleman, who also punts. "I only did it playing around in the neighborhood before. But one guy was kicking one day at practice and wasn't doing too good. I said, 'Coach, I can do that. ' He let me try and that was it. "
At Saul, touch football was the only game in town.
"It was corny," Coleman said. "I refused to play. I wanted football with physical contact. "
Next came another stay in Vicksburg.
"Footballwise, it was good," he said. "There were bigger and better players than you see up here. The practices were harder. It was good competition. But once the football season was over, it was too boring. Plus, I missed my grandma. So I came back. "
Coleman, who works hard in the classroom, is receiving mail from Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island, among others. Coach Rich Kozlowski envisions him as an outside linebacker in college.
"He's fast," Kozlowski said, "and he's the strongest big kid I've coached (in nine seasons). Sometimes, he's been too good. I've had to move him to linebacker because teams have been running away from him. "
Said Coleman: "It makes me mad when they run away from me. You can't make big plays. But when the coach tells me, 'They're doing that because they're scared of you,' I start smiling."
COLEMAN TO E. CAROLINA
by Ted Silary, Daily News Sports Writer
The football coaches at East Carolina University do not have the film- watching patience of Siskel and Ebert.
They take quick looks, then make decisions.
After Simon Gratz coach Rich Kozlowski sent the Pirates a highlight film of linebacker prospect Roderick Coleman . . .
"They said they only needed to watch a few plays to know they wanted me to visit," Coleman said. "When I got to the hotel on my official visit (last weekend), they said they were watching it again and were really liking it. They said they were excited about meeting me. "
The 6-3, 230-pound Coleman, a first-team Daily News All-City defensive lineman (end), will sign with the Pirates today.
Coleman said ECU found out about him through David Smigel, the son of Gratz basketball assistant Nate Smigel. Once he arrived in Greensville, N.C., he immediately felt at home.
"The coaches, players, other students - everybody treated me nice," Coleman said. "While we were looking around, the coaches took me into the locker room. They were standing around a locker, then they spread out, so I could see inside. It had full equipment and an ECU uniform with my Gratz number, 73, and name on the back. Hey, that surprised me. They said, 'This could be your spot. ' They said I'd have to get a linebacker's number, though. It's going to be 57. "
Coleman, a Philly native, spent part of his life in Vicksburg, Miss.
"My only hesitation was going back down South," he said. "I'll have to get used to that slow pace again. It'll be all right, though. "
John Marzano (RIP), Central, Class of 1981
MARZANOS AWAIT THEIR CHANCE
By Ted Silary
John Marzano Sr. attended South Philadelphia High and crawled into bed with visions of big league baseball dancing inside his head. But he couldn't hit or throw and, after a while, he couldn't bear to dream anymore.
His son, John Jr., attends Central High and there's only one part of the game he finds a wee bit troublesome - flat-out motoring.
However, since his bat fires line drives to all fields and his arm guns down runners at second base and his greatest desire in life is to work harder than any other would-be major league catcher, the scouts view his games on a regular basis and the phrase they keep uttering, often in hushed tones, is " top-notch prospect. "
How top-notch, of course, no one will know until the first week of June when the annual draft takes place. Whatever happens, John Marzano Jr. is having the time of his life.
"You hear so many things. You don't know what to believe," said John, a 5-11, 185-pounder. " You can't pin down what the scouts are thinking. I could get drafted high, I could get drafted low, I might not get drafted at all. For me, it's a dream come true just to have the scouts come around, to have them evaluating what you can do.
"NOT MANY KIDS can say, 'I was scouted. ' Not many kids are experiencing the extra excitement that I am."
Although John says he has never been pushed by his father - " only helped" - the two have long acted as one.
When John was only 9 or 10, his father would take him to Columbus Playground, near his house at 11th and Wharton Sts., and the pair would work on John's game for up to six hours. When John was in ninth grade, his father spent $1,000 to purchase a pitching machine. When John was in 11th grade, his father spoke with Phillies' officials and received permission to hold nightly two-hour workouts in the tunnel under the left-field stands, where a batting cage is located.
"In all my years of coaching," said Central's Bob Cullman, " I've never seen a father who's closer to his son and a son who's closer to his father. "
"We've always been that way and our common love has been baseball," John said. " Since I was 8, we've worked out together. He'll come to me and say, 'Let's go to the field. ' I'll go to him and say, 'Let's go to the field. ' There's never any argument. We always go.
"I was always the best hitter in my age group. That's because my father gave me so much practice. He'd talk all the little kids into shagging the balls in the outfield and pitch to me and pitch to me and pitch to me some more. (Laughing) When I got too good for his pitching, he bought the machine.
"In the five months before this season, I worked out at the Vet for two or 2 1/2 hours a night. Seven days a week. We'd put the pitching machine up on the mound and turn that baby up to 90 or 95 MPH. After that, my father would walk inside the net and fire balls in the dirt to give me practice at blocking bad pitches. Even now, we work hard. "
INDEED. ON SATURDAY, it was mentioned to Mr. Marzano that the scouts like the strength of John's arm, but his throws to second have not yet reached the
point where they get to the exact spot consistently.
"I knew it! I knew someone talked to him about that," John said, laughing. "He had me outside today, making millions of throws to second base. He kept saying, 'Get it here . Get it here . '"
Through 12 games, including eight in the Public League, John has 19 hits in 36 at-bats for a .527 average. His other key stats include 11 doubles, 3 triples, 2 homers, 27 RBI and the unheard-of slugging percentage of 1.167. He has also drawn 15 walks, many of the semi-intentional variety.
Bob Cullman has coached baseball for 14 years and one of his players has never batted .500 over a three- year career. John Marzano , meanwhile, could
go hitless the rest of the season and he'd still boast a plus-.500 average.
Marzano spent his formative years at third base. After his soph season, there were whispers his future would prove rosier at catcher and the switch came to pass during the following winter.
Contrary to popular belief, Mr. Marzano did not wake up in a cold sweat one January morning and drag his son to the playground to throw him " wild pitches" that bounced into snow instead of dirt. John became a catcher during his week-long stay at a Florida-based baseball camp, which he attended again this winter.
"My father and I had discussed the possibility of switching with Mr. Cullman, but nothing was definite," John said. " I went to camp as a third baseman. Steve Boros (now coach with Expos) told me, 'You have good quickness at third. But with your arm, you should get behind the plate. You'll have a better shot at making fast progress. ' "
JOHN MADE MOST of his early progress with Columbus in the Dept. of Recreation program. His coach, Gabe " Spanky" DiFeliciantonio, bursts with as much pride as Mr. Marzano.
"Spanky worked my butt off, too," John laughed. " When I played 14-to- 16, he'd have me working with the 12- to-14 and 16-to-18 teams. He'd work me at third, short and second to improve my mobility, sometimes for as much as 10 hours a day. "
Like most kids, John envisioned himself as a big league player about the same time he first plopped down some change for bubblegum cards. The dream,
however, didn't zoom into focus until last year.
"In 10th grade, I was just out there playing ball, trying to improve," John said. " Then I moved to catcher in 11th grade and people started to talk about me in terms of being a prospect. Now, it's all I can think about.
"My father he doesn't say 'boo' at games and never acts like the typical pushy pop is caught up in it, too. He says I should work at it more than ever. He says, 'You've come so far, don't ease up now. ' I agree with him. You never know, there might be someone out there working harder than I am."
Doubtful. It's also quite doubtful that John Marzano will be prevented from doing all that he wants to.
Lynn Greer, Engineering and Science, Class of 1997
(with link to pro stats overseas)
GREER'S STRUCTURALLY SOUND FOR ENGINEERS
by Ted Silary, Daily News Sports Writer
Lynn Greer is one of the anti-franchises in city scholastic basketball.
He doesn't show off, doesn't run his mouth, doesn't shirk his classroom responsibilities, doesn't threaten to transfer any time he is not passed the ball on three consecutive trips down the court.
What he does is play hard with team goals in mind when wearing a uniform, and behave like a model citizen, unceasingly, when wearing street clothes.
Lynn Greer is what can happen when a youngster receives loving and persistent familial support.
But even without that, one suspects he would have had enough sense to figure out the ways of the world.
Greer, a 6-1, 150-pound junior combination guard at Engineering and Science, already is one of the city's top players.
Yesterday, he shot 10-for-19 from the field (one "three") and 8-for-8 from the foul line for 29 points and distributed four assists as the visiting Engineers dumped Jules Mastbaum Tech, 66-56, in a Public League game.
His father, Lynn Sr., was standing right beside the E & S bench, capturing the game on videotape.
Greer's family is immersed in basketball. His dad was an important sixth man for Thomas Edison's 1969 city champions, then started for four years at Virginia State. His uncle, Vernon Greer, played for Murrell Dobbins Tech ('68) and Cheyney. Vernon's son, LaMarr Greer, graduated in '94 from Middle Township, near Cape May, as the No. 3 scorer in South Jersey history with 2,637 points. He now starts at point guard for Florida State.
Lynn Jr., meanwhile, is averaging 25.5 points through four games this season and has scored 781 career points.
His help yesterday came from sophomore point guard William Chavis (18 points, five assists), junior shooter Jameel Hawthorne (10 points) and senior skyman Thomas Darden (seven points, 13 boards, one stupendous dunk).
"It's good to be in this family because help and advice are always available," Greer said. "But there's some pressure, too. Lots of expectations to live up to. LaMarr was a McDonald's All-American and now the family is pushing me to be one. I'm not worried about that. I just go out to play hard and have fun. "
Greer, a lefty, has the knack of being able to maneuver to the basket no matter how much defensive attention is paid to him.
He bobs and weaves and head fakes and backs up and circles to his right and maybe back again and then there he is, flipping a layup off the glass. He also has a sweet jump shot, which he can stick from distance, and don't even think about fouling him. For the season, he is 22-for-23 (96 percent) at the line.
"Foul shots are easy," he said. "It's a free shot. It's concentration. When I go out to work on my game, I always start off with foul shots. "
Engineers coach C.M. Brown, who used to be known as Charlie until he went formal on us, knows what a special player he has in Greer.
"He's the floor leader. He's the scorer. He's also the passer," Brown said, simply. "When he came on the team in ninth grade, he was with kids who were mostly seniors. He was a little timid as to what he could and couldn't do. "
He smiled. "It didn't take him long. "
Greer spent his elementary-school years at the Christian Academy in Delaware County. That's the same school where Bryant Coursey, a Drexel signee, is now starring. He switched to E & S because his father and uncle were longtime friends with Brown and trusted him as a coach and character-molder. E & S's academic reputation was also an important factor.
"At first I didn't want to leave the Christian Academy," Greer said. "I didn't have much choice. My dad said, 'You're going to E & S.' I was worried about making new friends. Once I got there, I liked it. I found it easy to adjust.
"I don't mind having to face a good academic load. My last report, I got five B's and two C's. I talk to some of my friends at the regular schools and they're bragging about great grade-point averages, but they say the teachers don't make them work hard and it's easy to get over. There's no gettin' over at E & S."
After the '94 season, and again after last season, there were mild rumors about Greer transferring to a school with a powerhouse program. Unfounded, all.
"We've never given that any thought," his father said. "The main purpose for going to a powerhouse is to get recognition and a scholarship and maybe a championship. I don't think he'll win a championship here, but he's getting recognition and he'll get a nice scholarship and we're very happy with the school. There's no need for him to be somewhere else. "
Lynn's sister, Kelli, is a sophomore on E & S's girls team. His mother, Alma, is almost as constant a presence at games as her husband.
"I see them two to three times a week," Brown said. "They're very happy with what our school is doing with their children. "
E & S's only failing would appear to be in the food department. Greer has been trying to pack on some pounds, but has experienced little success.
His new trick is to wolf down a hamburger or cheesesteak right before he goes to bed.
"It sits in your stomach all night," he said. "No chance to work it off. I just started that a few days ago. Hope it works."
Marvin Harrison, Roman Catholic, Class of 1991
(Two stories are below because he also starred in basketball.
Also, they're from his sophomore year and he was already
creating major waves.)
SOPH STANDOUT CARRIES ROMAN TO WIN, NO SWEAT
Over walked the Rev. Richard McLoughlin, Roman's dry-witted principal, and out came the quips.
"Did this guy play? " McLoughlin asked. "His uniform's not dirty. Why, he doesn't even smell. "
Marvin Harrison had played, all right.
The record will show that Roman, as a team, defeated St. Joseph's Prep, 36-12, Saturday at Roxborough High's field to break a 17-game Southern Division losing streak that covered parts of four seasons. It also should show this: Harrison was the decisive factor.
The 6-foot, 170-pound sophomore caught six passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns, of 61 and 93 yards. He intercepted two passes, including one on a conversion attempt. He served as the perfect, second-half decoy, drawing several Prep defenders whenever he went in motion. And he received the ultimate compliment, in that the Prep refused to kick off long.
"(Harrison) has a gear that nobody else has," said Ed Brodbine, Roman's first-year coach. The coach then relayed the story of what happened Sept. 9, in the final minute of Roman's 32-26 non-league win at Wissahickon.
Harrison made the difference in that one by catching Jim McGeehan's 57-yard bomb with 0:44 remaining.
"Their real good kid, the Division I prospect (Andreas Gaynor), was playing Marvin man-to-man," Brodbine said. "When Jimmy threw the Hail Mary pass, they were going stride for stride. Then Marvin saw the ball and, bang, he just took off. It wound up not being close. Marvin had him beat by 10 yards. "
In four games, Harrison has transformed 23 receptions into 475 yards and four touchdowns. That's a season for most guys.
When Brodbine became Roman's coach, he was aware that Harrison had scored 22 touchdowns for the '87 freshman team and had caused several longtime coaches to laud him as the "best freshman we've ever seen in this league. " After much thought, Brodbine decided he could best utilize Harrison and McGeehan, no slouch himself, by installing a spread offense and putting Harrison at slotback.
"He gives us as much as possible out of this formation," Brodbine said. ''We want to get the ball in his hands. Preferably wide, so he can do what he wants. "
"I like receiver a lot," Harrison said. "Most defensive backs in this league aren't real fast. I feel I can beat them deep.
"Since Jimmy's only a junior, we'll probably run this offense next year. Maybe I'll play running back in 12th grade, but if not that's OK. However they want me to contribute is fine. "
Harrison, whose quickness also makes him a talented point guard in basketball, first played football with the Roxborough Eagles' 105-pounders. He scored 29 touchdowns that season, in '85, then "15 or 16" the next with the 125s.
When asked if he ever has been caught from behind, he answered simply, ''No."
"I grew up around 24th and Girard," he said. "I never played (organized) sports, just in the school yards. Then we moved to Roxborough and I hooked up with the Eagles. That got me started. We're back around 24th and Girard now. It's an easier trip to school. "
Harrison scored his touchdowns, both of which came in the first half, by maximizing simple swing passes from McGeehan (9-for-11, 244 yards, three touchdowns). His 93-yarder occurred just 0:40 before halftime.
Then, it was decoy time. Roman jumped to a 22-6 lead with 3:45 left in the third quarter on Eddie Owens's 13-yard run. On five of the six plays in the 74-yard drive, Harrison went in motion to one side and somebody (Owens, John Spino, Jermaine Wilson) ran to the other. The play preceding the touchdown was a 14-yard run by Harrison.
"Being a decoy," Harrison said, "allowed the other guys to do things to help us. "
Brodbine said the only drawback to having a player as explosive as Harrison is that the others tend to lean on him too heavily, "and he's not going to be able to break the big ones every game. "
Meanwhile, Brodbine is prouder of Harrison, the person, than of Harrison, the budding superstar.
"What an attitude," Brodbine said. "He's no head job, no prima donna. He gets along great with the kids. He doesn't say two words. The first month, I thought he didn't like me. Best of all, he finished last year (scholastically) with second honors. "
Jermaine Wilson scored Roman's last TD on a 91-yard interception. Three players tipped the ball before Wilson caught it . . . Prep quarterback Frank Costa, a 6-4 junior, passed 14-for-32 for 161 yards. Dewey LaRosa made six catches for 70 yards . . . Roman's previous league win also had been over the Prep - 24-16 on Nov. 3, 1985. The Cahillites had dropped 11 consecutive league games before that.
ROMAN'S HARRISON CUTS NEUMANN TO THE QUICK
By Ted Silary, Daily News Sports Writer
MarvinHarrison is so quick, he could run 15 yards in a thunderstorm and not get wet.
He is so quick, he could place a phone call from his house and answer - by the second ring, maximum - 10 doors away. He is so quick, he renders that adjective inadequate when an attempt is made to describe him.
Ed Brodbine, Roman Catholic's football coach, said last season that Harrison, a 6-foot, 170-pound sophomore, "has a gear that nobody else has. "
Dennis Seddon, Roman's basketball boss, said last night of Harrison: "He's the quickest player I've seen at Roman. "
Again and again during the Cahillites' 87-64 Catholic South demolition of host St. John Neumann, Harrison treated the capacity crowd to speeding-bullet heroics.
If he wasn't flashing in the face of astonished opponents for steals, he was scampering down loose balls. If he wasn't blowing toward the basket for his own layups, or for drop-off passes resulting in teammates' layups, he was, well, scampering down more loose balls.
In 21 minutes as a substitute lead guard, wing guard and small forward, Harrison shot 6-for-10 and 4-for-4 for 16 points, dealt 4 assists, made 7 steals and even finished second among both teams' players in rebounds, with 9.
Now you don't see him. Now you still don't see him.
"Marvin's our main defensive sub," Seddon said. "He lifts us, coming off the bench the way he does. Sometimes we have to knock him back a gear depending on the situation, but most of the time it's 'Go, Marvin. '
"He's always a pest. In practice, too. If the ball's around loose, we just say, 'Marvin. Ball. ' "
Already, Harrison has become a much-discussed, and marveled-at, football player. As a running back, he scored 22 touchdowns for Roman's 1987 freshman team. As a slotback for the '88 varsity, he caught 42 passes for 744 yards and 7 TDs.
OK, kid. We realize that your scholastic career is, in some ways, just getting revved up, but which sport do you prefer?
"Basketball," Harrison said. "Football season gets too cold. About 50 degrees is fine. Once it goes below that, I don't play as well. No, it doesn't have to be freezing. "
According to Seddon, Harrison gave serious consideration last summer to becoming a basketball-only athlete.
"He was so involved with basketball, he was thinking maybe he'd just concentrate on that," Seddon said. "We talked to him. We explained that the more avenues he made open to college recruiters, the better off he'd be. By his football performance, he is proving that he can get there footballwise. By his basketball performance, he is proving that he can get there basketballwise. "
How about trackwise? Tenniswise? Swimmingwise? Tiddlywinkswise?
"Probably so," Seddon said. "He could probably do anything he wanted. He's very blessed. "
Harrison figures his quickness is better suited for basketball "because you don't have as far to run. It's mostly sudden bursts. "
After last night, Neumann probably figures that Harrison should be forced to play in cement sneakers.
"When I'm sitting there, I try to see who's scoring a lot of points," Harrison said. "I figure that's who coach Seddon is going to put me on. I don't study the guy too much. I just go out and play 'D.'
"When I double, it's usually when a guy has his back turned. I'll try to run to his blind side. "
Said Seddon: "When possible, we like to put Marvin on a guy he can get away from (while looking for steals), but recover to. Early, we had him on Damon Reid (18 points), but he was quick and a good penetrator, so we switched him. "
Roman's heroes were plentiful. Alan Watkins, a 6-5 forward bound for Duquesne, had 20 points (his career total is now 1,017), 10 rebounds and 5 assists. Bernard Jones, a 6-5 sophomore who splits time between center and forward, mixed 24 points and seven boards. Guards Mike McKee and Jim O'Rourke had six and four assists, respectively. Frontcourters Cliff Smith, Tyrone Bacon and Ruben Colon added solid, no-frills efforts.
The Cahillites led by as many as 17 points before ending the first half ahead 45-35. It was 65-53 after three quarters before an impressive display of suffocating defense, quick-paced offense and crisp passing made it 81-56 with 3:08 left.
"The big break came," Seddon said, "when we started helping defensively, and when we made the one extra pass to get better shots.
"Hey, Neumann is a very good team. A few breaks here, a few bounces there and God only knows. "
Eventually, of course,MarvinHarrison will have to know, and express, what he wants to do athletically in college.
"I'm going to try to stick with both sports until senior year," he said, ''then make a decision. "
All schools but the winner will be left cold.