Fall sports teams get back on the field

Teams re­turn for first day of fall sports try­outs

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

There were no signs of yel­low school buses and the park­ing lots were vir­tual de­void of cars and pedes­tri­ans, but Wed­nes­day marked the un­of­fi­cial end of sum­mer for nu­mer­ous Charles County high school stu­dents look­ing to play var­i­ous sports for their re­spec­tive schools this fall.

The La Plata High School boys soc­cer team, which reached the Class 2A state ti­tle game last No­vem­ber, started bright and early on Wed­nes­day morn­ing. Head coach Chris But­ler and his squad were on the prac­tice field ad­ja­cent to the school at 8 o’clock run­ning laps and then con­tin­ued with prac­tice up through 11 that morn­ing amid con­sid­er­able op­ti­mism.

“We had a great first day,” But­ler said of his team’s sun­rise prac­tice. “The coaches and the guys were all very up­beat. I think last year was just a great ex­pe­ri­ence for them. We only lost four se­niors, two of which were key, but we have a lot of guys back. The new kids re­ally helped in­crease the in­ten­sity this morn­ing and the coaches and all the guys were re­ally up­beat.”

Typ­i­cally the McDonough High School vol­ley­ball team be­gins the first prac­tice in­side its own gym­na­sium, but on Wed­nes­day the squad car­pooled to North Point to au­di­tion for the var­sity and ju­nior var­sity teams in the Ea­gles’ spa­cious, air con­di­tioned gym. The Rams will be prac­tic­ing at North Point through Aug. 19 as the McDonough gym un­der­goes mi­nor up­grades.

“This year is go­ing to be a lot about teach­ing,” said McDonough third-year coach Buck Had­den, who guided the Rams to the Class 1A state ti­tle match last fall. “We grad­u­ated some very good play­ers. We have a lot of new faces on the team this sea­son. We didn’t have a cou­ple of our se­niors here to­day, so it was good for the other kids to learn some dif­fer­ent po­si­tions.”

McDonough se­nior Teya Re­gala is op­ti­mistic that the Rams can make an­other run through the 1A North Re­gion bracket and earn an­other berth

to states at the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land’s Ritchie Coli­seum in Col­lege Park. Re­gala stayed in shape through­out the sum­mer by work­ing out in her base­ment gym­na­sium.

“I was re­ally happy to see all the girls to­day,” said Re­gala, who plans to at­tend the Uni­ver­sity of North Carolina next fall. “It’s al­ways fun to be back for the first day. I worked out in my gym­na­sium all sum­mer and I would go run­ning. We have some high goals. We want to get back to states again this year.”

Ju­nior Ce­leste Driver, whose older sis­ter Sab­rina Driver was part of the Rams’ suc­cess last fall be­fore grad­u­at­ing in the spring, will likely be the team’s libero this fall. In Wed­nes­day’s prac­tice she also acted as set­ter and oc­ca­sion­ally flashed plenty of power at­tack­ing the ball at the net de­spite her diminu­tive frame.

“We want to win the re­gion and get back to states again this year,” said Driver, who dreams of some­day play­ing vol­ley­ball for Penn State Uni­ver­sity. “I think we can do just as good as we did last year. This first day back was a lot of fun. It was great to see all the girls again.”

Se­nior out­side hit­ter Lau­ryn Davis, who boasts a 4.5 GPA and plans to at­tend Duke Uni­ver­sity next fall and ma­jor in pre-med, is also op­ti­mistic about the up­com­ing sea­son de­spite the Rams los­ing sev­eral key play­ers to grad­u­a­tion last spring.

“It was a re­ally good first day back,” Davis said. “Per­son­ally, my goals are to get bet­ter at pass­ing and hit­ting. But for the team I think our goals are just as high as last year. We want to get back to states.”

Se­nior Stephanie Adams, who missed last sea­son for per­sonal rea­sons, ad­mits she was ea­ger to be back on the floor for the Rams. Adams, who also plays soft­ball for the South­ern Mary­land Ve­loc­ity 18-and-Un­der team and also ex­cels in the 100yard freestyle and 100 but­ter­fly dur­ing the win­ter, was also ea­ger to re­join her team af­ter the brief hia­tus.

“It was great to be back with the girls,” Adams said. “Soft­ball is my main sport, but I al­ways en­joyed play­ing vol­ley­ball. I like play­ing in the back row, pass­ing and dig­ging. We have some high goals for the sea­son that I think we can reach.”

While the McDonough vol­ley­ball team bor­rowed the North Point gym­na­sium on Wed­nes­day, the North Point foot­ball team gath­ered un­der the lights on the prac­tice field for its ini­tial prac­tice. Last fall the Ea­gles went 10-1, the lone loss elim­i­nat­ing them in the open­ing round of the 4A East Re­gion play­offs, but third-year coach Tom Pe­tre is op­ti­mistic this year’s squad can make amends.

“These guys have been hit­ting the weights since De­cem­ber,” Pe­tre said. “They un­der­stand what it takes to be com­pet­i­tive. I have a great coach­ing staff and it all starts there re­ally. I would be lost with­out them. We grad­u­ated some key play­ers from last sea­son, but we have 21 se­niors and 32 ju­niors on the ros­ter.”

North Point, which opens the sea­son at Thomas Stone on Sept. 2 be­fore host­ing Lackey one week later, will have sev­eral key play­ers back, in­clud­ing Ma­lik Lawrence, Malachi McMil­lan, Jemichael Jones and Jer­mel Rat­cliff. The Ea­gles have pre­sea­son scrim­mages with Prince Ge­orge’s County’s Wise, the de­fend­ing 4A state cham­pi­ons, Meade of Anne Arun­del County and Friendly of Prince Ge­orge’s.

“The first day back was re­ally good,” Pe­tre said. “We got a lot ac­com­plished. This whole first week is about get­ting the dust off and get­ting ready for the sea­son. It comes up quick.”

STAFF PHOTO BY TED BLACK

Mem­bers of the North Point High School foot­ball team take the prac­tice field for the first time on Wed­nes­day evening as the Ea­gles girls soc­cer team oc­cu­pies the far side of the field.

STAFF PHOTO BY TED BLACK Mem­bers of the McDonough High School vol­ley­ball team pre­pare to par­tic­i­pate in sev­eral prac­tice drills at North Point High School in Wal­dorf on Wed­nes­day. The Rams reached last year’s 1A state ti­tle match and will be spend­ing their first two weeks of prac­tice on the road at North Point.

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