By Jon Buzby
Heading into the fourth quarter of last season’s 4A state championship with a 23-point lead, thoughts of sneaking up behind head coach Chuck Markiewicz with a water bucket had to be sneaking into the minds of Arundel players.
The program’s first state championship since 1975 was firmly in its grasp, but then the title slipped away, blowing the lead and losing the game 36-30.
Redemption is on the mind of the Wildcats this fall.
The Wildcats return seven starters from last year’s record-breaking offense, led by receiver Alex Lemon, who had 70 catches for 969 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Unfortunately for Lemon, the player throwing all of those passes, consensus All-State quarterback Nick Elko will be tossing the ball around this fall in Dover, Del., at Delaware State University.
Junior Billy Cosh is the leading candidate to replace Elko. In addition to Lemon, wide receivers Sean Fitzgerald, R.J. Harris and Auraum Nuiriankh provide a potent trio of receivers for Cosh to throw to when he’s not using his natural running ability to rack up yardage for the Wildcat offense.
Derrick Rhodes (63 carries, 284 yards, 3 TDs) and Mitch Reese (67 carries, 254 yards, 1 TD) will be the primary ball carriers.
Defensively, Arundel returns five starters, led by junior linebacker Bobby Patrilla. He will be flanked in the defensive backfield by fellow classmates Dominique Matthews and Raymond Harmon.
With four of its first five games on the road, Arundel will find out early whether or not it can make weekend plans during the state playoffs.
Football: Maryland Players Get National Notice
Tom Lemming of CBS College Sports included nine Maryland preps in his look at the top 25 players nationally by position in the class of 2009
The highest rated player is Jelani Jenkins of Good Counsel, listed as the No. 4 outside linebacker in the country and the No. 33 prospect overall regardless of position.
Tavon Austin of Dunbar High School in Baltimore also cracked the top 100 nationally, coming in at No. 90 overall and No. 12 at the tailback position.
Tom Lemming/CBS College Sports 2009 Positional Rankings
Player, School (Ranking) – College
Raymond Cotton, Fort Meade (No. 25 combo passer) – Auburn
Tavon Austin, Baltimore Dunbar (No. 12 tailback)
Deonte Arnett, Forestville Military (No. 15 defensive end) – Maryland
Sean Stanley, Gaithersburg (No. 17 defensive end) – Penn State
Jelani Jenkins, Good Counsel (No. 4 outside linebacker)
Darrell Givens, Lackey (No. 10 cornerback) – Penn State
Dominic Clarke, Tuscarora (No. 25 cornerback) – Ohio State
Malcolm Willis, Lackey (No. 25 safety) – Penn State
Mike Campanaro, River Hill (No. 23 athlete) – Wake Forest
Softball: Archbishop Spalding Hires Scharek
Kristen Scharek was promoted to head varsity coach of the Archbishop Spalding High School softball team, replacing Paul O’Brien, who stepped down after coaching his team to a 17-1 record and the IAAM A Conference championship last spring.
Scharek is very familiar with Spalding’s softball tradition, and not just from her junior varsity coaching duties the past two seasons. She played briefly at Spalding before transferring to nearby Seton Keough, where she was named All-City and All-County in 1999 and 2000 by the Baltimore Sun.
"I am extremely excited about this opportunity," Scharek, who played college softball at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, said in a press release. "I am fortunate to inherit such a talented program. I look forward to a smooth transition and hope to pick up where we left off, as IAAM A Conference champions."
Boys Basketball: Crossland’s Harris Stepping Down
Sam Harris, the head boys basketball coach at Crossland High School for the past seven years, is stepping down to spend more time with his family.
"It was really the fact I'd spent a long time in Prince George's County and I wanted to spend more time with my family and son," Harris told the Gazette. "I thought it would be the perfect time for me to go."
Harris’ best season was when he led the Cavaliers to the 2005 Class 3A East Region title before falling to Randallstown in the state semifinals.
His previous coaching stops included stints at Riverdale Baptist and H.D. Woodson.
Although he’s looking forward to a year off, Harris hasn’t ruled out returning to coaching.
"I'm just going to take some time off and enjoy my family," Harris told the Gazette. "I'm not going to count out coaching again, but I just want to give it a break."
Jon Buzby is the Maryland correspondent for MaxPreps.com