|by Darrell Carter|
Our three local teams didnt win a championship last year, and none of them are expected to win this season either; but dont tell the athletes this. They are all fired up and ready to go to the big dance.
Oh, some of you are saying: What about the Maryland Terrapins? They won the Orange Bowl. The last time I checked, they play in College Park. So lets take a look at our darling local teams.
Towson Tigers: The campus at Towson University was left in a dazed state when the NCAA Division IAA Towson Tigers finished with a 3-7-won/lost record after an impressive season-end victory over Georgetown. Several starters are coming back, which should signal to the faithful fans that better days are ahead.
Head coach Gordy Combs, entering his 11th season as head coach, has been the winningest coach in TU history. In 1999, he was named Patriot League Coach of the Year.
Deemed the starting quarterback is junior Jay Amer. At 6-1 and 218 lbs., he appeared in nine games last season and started in four, with a 2-2 record. He completed 75 of 159 passes for 1,020 yards, with 3 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. After replacing starter Val Troiani against Albany, he threw for 253 yards and 1 TD, while completing 14 of 29 passes. Amer started the second game of the season as the number one quarterback with a win over Lafayette, during which he threw one touchdown and got the win in overtime, 16-13.
Former Old Mill High School (Glen Burnie, MD) standout Jason Galloway led the Tigers last season in receiving, with 46 catches for 605 yards and 1 TD. Known for his explosive speed and ability to get separation from the defensive back, Galloway will be called on to be a playmaker and help the team as a long-ball threat. He was a first team All-State in high school, and earned All Anne Arundel County first team honors as a wide receiver and defensive back. He set a school and county record with 14 receptions for 236 yards against Annapolis.
Morgan State Bears: The Morgan State University Bears will begin the season with a new head coach, Donald Hill, in hopes of improving on their 2-9 won/lost record last season. This season, the Bears will be without leading rusher Ali Culpepper and quarterback Marc Lester.
Hill became the 18th head coach in Morgan history. Last season, he served as offensive coordinator, in which his Bears finished 4th in the Division IAA Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in total offense with 357.9 yards per game.
Coach Hills coaching career started at his alma mater, Virginia Union University in Norfolk, where he played collegiate football. His journey took him to the Canadian Football League, where he was receiver coach for the former Baltimore Stallions.
Junior quarterback Lejomnick Washington will be given the nod as the starter, though he will be looking over his shoulder for fellow junior Jorge Pena and freshman Bradshaw Littlejohn. Littlejohn is a very talented quarterback form Gaffney, SC.
Washington played in nine games last season and completed 110 of 218 passes for 9 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Pena competed in seven games, while completing 39 of 85 passes with 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
The loss of star running back Ali Culpeper would be devastating for most teams, but not at Morgan. Emerging to replace him is former Randallstown High star Thomas Stallings, who was second on the Bear lineup in nine games, with 335 yards on 62 carries, serving as Culpepers backup. His credentials at Randallstown as a senior were extraordinary. He rushed for 1,764 yards and 28 TDs, while leading the team to a championship.
Johns Hopkins Blue Jays: The Blue Jays finished 6-3 in the Division III Centennial Conference. Many over at the Homewood campus are embracing the idea that this could be a championship year.
Head coach Jim Margraff, entering his 10th season at the helm, needs just nine wins to tie the school record for most wins by a football coach.
The Blue Jays are returning 11 starters from last seasons team, including three All-Centennial players. Although Hopkins is picked to finish third in the conference, many believe the Blue Jays will be the surprise team in the league.
Running backs Kevin Johnson (Baltimore City College high school) and sophomore Adam Cook will carry the load for the Blue Jays offense, while Pat Doyle, Paul Smith, and Mike Little will lead the defense.
So gather up your blankets and head for the local stadiums and root for our hometown teams. Many say these competitions are more exciting than professional sports; come see for yourself.