Bay­side teams share their hopes dur­ing me­dia day

Dorchester Star - - Sports - By DAVID INSLEY dins­ley@stardem.com

CAM­BRIDGE — With fall sports try­outs set to start Wed­nes­day, Bay­side Con­fer­ence foot­ball teams as­sem­bled Mon­day af­ter­noon for the third an­nual Me­dia Day at the Dorch­ester Ca­reer and Tech­nol­ogy Cen­ter.

And while most play­ers and coaches looked for­ward to the fun of a new sea­son, the word most com­monly heard was “work.”

“We’ve got to work hard and never stop if we want to get back on top,” said Park­side High line­man Felix Par­adis, whose team missed the play­offs last year at 6-4, a Week 10 loss to James M. Ben­nett es­sen­tially knock­ing the Rams out of the post­sea­son. “I feel like we have a good squad this year.”

Rams head coach Bren­dan Riley agreed, but re­mained cau­tious in his op­ti­mism, de­spite his team open­ing with Snow Hill (0-10 in 2015) and Eas­ton (2-8).

“The way we do it, we want to, we have to take it one game at a time this year,” Riley said. “You can never just write some­body off, be­cause when you do, you’ll lose . ... You have to ap­proach each game as its own thing, never look ahead, and try to play your best game each night.”

North Caro­line cer­tainly put to­gether a string of good nights last year, com­pil­ing a school-record 12-1 slate that in­cluded win­ning its first re­gional cham­pi­onship.

But though 16-year head coach James McCormick might be­gin the year with the Bay­side’s top top-ranked team, he said the play on the field has to match the high hopes cre­ated by last sea­son.

“It’s mov­ing up there,” McCormick said of the level of ex­pec­ta­tions many have for his Bull­dogs. “It’s get­ting high ob­vi­ously; last year was a very good year. But that was last year. We’ve got to try to get that fo­cus and get back to where we were last year.”

The Bull­dogs open on Sept. 2 at 6:30 p.m. at Eas­ton. The War­riors book­end their reg­u­lar sea­son against their two most no­table rivals, Caro­line and Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester.

Sixth-year head coach Matt Grif­fith said play­ing four quar­ters, some­thing Eas­ton strug­gled with last year, will be key.

“We want to be able to put our­selves in a po­si­tion, late in ev­ery game, where we have the op­por­tu­nity to win,” Grif­fith said. “That’s where we want to be.”

Cam­bridge-SD head coach Jake Cole­man, whose Vik­ings made the re­gional fi­nals or be­yond in each of the last five sea­sons, felt the same.

Los­ing to North Caro­line in Week 2 last year by one score, and on a late touch­down in the 1A East cham­pi­onship to Havre de Grace, Cole­man wants his team to con­trol its des­tiny on ev­ery play, not just for most of each game. And that be­gins with strength con­di­tion­ing.

“We felt like, with that call or with­out that call, they [Havre de Grace] were beat­ing us up at the point of at­tack,” Cole­man said. “And so, this year, we wanted to make sure we gave this our best ef­fort to get as strong as we pos­si­bly could.

Weight room time has been heavy for the Vik­ings, like sev­eral other teams, Cole­man said, adding, “I feel like we’re com­ing in one of the stronger teams that we’ve had.

“We have a lot of speed com­ing back,” Cole­man said. “The old say­ing is ‘Don’t leave it in the hands of the of­fi­cials.’ Well, a cou­ple times last year we left it in the hands of the of­fi­cials, and this year we don’t want that to hap­pen.”

The re­turn of tail­back Tre’ Lake, who rushed for over 1,600 yards last year — more than 450 com­ing in Weeks 10 and 11 — should

help give the Vik­ings plenty of punch. Ju­nior Tyler Hard­ing takes over at quar­ter­back.

Colonel Richard­son, hop­ing to crack the 1A East play­off field for the first time since 2004, fea­tures stron­garmed ju­nior Jake Ze­bron call­ing the plays for the dou­ble-wing of­fense. With only nine games on the sched­ule right now, things will mean a lit­tle bit more ev­ery week, said as­sis­tant Neil Lam­bert.

In 2015, the Colonels blew out Regi­nald Lewis of Bal­ti­more in Week 8. This year, Regi­nald Lewis gets a new coach, El­wood Townsend, who led Dou­glass to the state fi­nals in 2013 and 2014.

Townsend dropped Colonel from this year’s sched­ule, thus cre­at­ing an open date in Week 8 for the Colonels. The ex­tra week’s rest might be use­ful for the stretch run, as Colonel tries to be one of four play­off con­tenders, in a 1A East field pared to seven teams.

“I think it can hurt you in terms of get­ting points, but it can help you in terms of [how] that open date is right in the grind... in mid-Oc­to­ber,” said Lam­bert, who served as head coach in 2004, the last year Colonel made the post­sea­son. “I think you can get some fresh legs un­der you, and kind of make a push.”

One of the big­gest ob­sta­cles Colonel might face in 1A this year is Kent County.

Though the Tro­jans went 6-4 and made the 1A East semi­fi­nals last year, they lost to C-SD. The Vik­ings haven’t lost to the Tro­jans since early in the 1995 sea­son.

This year, they’ll have to try to break that 24-game streak with­out the ser­vices of Ste­vie Cur­ran. The all­time lead­ing passer in Bay­side his­tory, Cur­ran grad­u­ated in May — but an able re­place­ment, ju­nior Tyson John­son, looks to be ready to step in, ac­cord­ing to head coach Bren­don Ire­ton.

“Any time you lose a player like Ste­vie Cur­ran, it’s go­ing to be a big hole to fill,” Ire­ton said. “For­tu­nately, we have a lot of kids com­ing up who have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence. He knows what it’s like to be in the spot­light, and he’s re­ally stepped up in the off­sea­son . ... I’m re­ally con­fi­dent that these guys are gonna be OK . ... Tyson is go­ing to be one of the hid­den gems in the Bay­side this year.”

He’ll be joined by fouryear star Marc Quan Greene and a large cast of re­turn­ing play­ers with plenty of var­sity ex­pe­ri­ence. The Tro­jans open Sept. 2 at Queen Anne’s County.

Once a Class 4A school, since it en­rolled ev­ery high school stu­dent in the county un­til the fall of 1999, Queen Anne’s broke into two schools, with Kent Is­land open­ing its doors that year.

The Buc­ca­neers, a 2A now like their cross-county coun­ter­parts, are hop­ing to re­turn to the play­offs. Kent Is­land went 9-2 last year, los­ing to Elk­ton in the first round of the East Re­gion play­offs.

Head coach Damian Fer­rag­amo knows what his team needs to see the se­cond sea­son again.

“We’re as hun­gry as we are ev­ery year,” Fer­rag­amo said. “[We] came up a lit­tle short in the first round of the play­offs. You al­ways want to stretch the sea­son out as long as pos­si­ble . ... We’re try­ing to stay fo­cused and get ready for our Week 1 op­po­nent.”

Michael Scott, a se­nior this year, pointed out where a lot of the hunger gets fed: in the weight room dur­ing the off­sea­son, where the team has been work­ing to­gether for months.

“We’ve all been work­ing hard in the weight room,” Scott said, “and ev­ery­one’s work­ing to­gether... it’s like a brother­hood.”

Line­man Justin John­son agreed, say­ing, “It’s a lot of team stuff, I mean, we’re all just work­ing hard, try­ing to get ready as a team.”

In the South Bay­side, Ben­nett, which went 7-3 and made the 3A East play­offs, hopes to stay atop the divi­sional stand­ings, while Stephen Decatur (4-6), hopes to make its mark de­spite the trans­fer of stars, Tyree Henry and Dar­ion McKenzie, to St. Frances Academy in Bal­ti­more.

Class 1As Wash­ing­ton (19) and Snow Hill hope to build af­ter rough 2015 cam­paigns.

Tim Ri­cho, now in his se­cond year in charge at Snow Hill, is hop­ing, like Decatur head coach Bob Knox, that the in­jury bug doesn’t bite like last year.

“We had a lot of fresh­men and sopho­mores play­ing,” Ri­cho said. “And it gives you some ex­pe­ri­ence in the next year, but ... at the end of last sea­son, we were only dress­ing about 21 kids. So it can be tough to keep the team go­ing.

“We’re hop­ing to get one win this year,” Ri­cho said. “When we had our player meet­ing, we were talk­ing about hop­ing to make the play­offs, but one of the play­ers said, ‘We al­ways want to make the play­offs, but let’s look at get­ting one win this year.’ And so that’s what we’re do­ing. We get the first win, then we’ll look at the se­cond win, and so on, and then maybe start think­ing play­offs.”

Greg Lasin­ski, in his se­cond sea­son at Wash­ing­ton, was of like mind. “When you go 1-9, you don’t re­ally think play­offs much at all the next year. You just want to try to im­prove. If we can make a run to­ward the play­offs great, but we just want to im­prove.”

Knox, whose team had back-to-back los­ing sea­sons in 2014 and 2015, ex­pressed his hopes for Decatur’s health, and its im­por­tance as a spring­board.

“I think one thing we’ll be bet­ter at, hope­fully, is not get­ting in­jured,” Knox said. “Last year, we had 11 kids hurt, in­clud­ing ... nine starters. And they were all fo­cused on one or two po­si­tions. We went through four run­ning backs last year — and we only be­gan the sea­son with three.”

Wi­comico (2-8) sees the only coach­ing change in the con­fer­ence this sea­son, with Brian Han­son tak­ing over. In ad­di­tion to hard play, he said ac­count­abil­ity was his fo­cus.

“You want your play­ers to be re­spon­si­ble, and to lead, to be ac­count­able and know they’re work­ing for, work­ing with, their team­mates,” Han­son said. “We’re hop­ing to work on ac­count­abil­ity, and team­work.”

The In­di­ans open at C-SD, at 7 p.m. on Sept. 2.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter: @Davetalkss­ports.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester’s Cur­tis Stan­ton (55) cel­e­brates with Tre’ Lake (31) af­ter Lake scored a rush­ing touch­down in the 1A East Re­gion Fi­nal at Havre de Grace last No­vem­ber.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester’s Tre’ Lake sprints through a hole for a se­cond-quar­ter touch­down against Nan­dua on Oct. 6, 2015. Lake fin­ished the day with three rush­ing touch­downs.

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