Dock of the Bay
Volume VII Number 35
September 2-8, 1999
Inside Severn's Tough Two-a-Day
photo by Mark Burns Writer-player Denney, no. 27, substitutes in for safety
It's 10am on a humid morning, and I'm sore, hot, and tired. My legs ache with every step I take, my head is pounding and I can barely lift my arms for the drive home, but I am content. The players around me are all relaxing, too, enjoying a short break in the monotonous and tough ritual known as practice.
When the coach calls for us to head back onto the field, groans issue from weary athletes around me. I take one last squirt of water from the bottle in my hand, stand up from the bleachers and relish my love, the great American passion known as high school football.
The Severn School Admirals have been practicing for less than two weeks now, with anticipation and excitement running high for the first scrimmage. Practice is hard, but the 26 varsity players - sophomores, juniors and seniors - are dedicated to being the best team we can be. It is with that desire, to be the best, that my team drives itself, looking onward to the first scrimmage of the season. That is why practice is endurable, even on hot, dry August days.
It's hard to say exactly why I endure the tough practices and games when I know I will not play football at a higher level in my future. Mostly, it's because I love the game and enjoy the teamwork that develops - as well as the feeling I get when pulling out a close win over a tough opponent. Others on my team have similar feelings.
Scott Harrison, a lineman from Davidsonville, says he plays football because he gets "the chance to hit someone as hard as possible with the exhilaration of an entire stadium screaming." Joe Salsich of Annapolis, another lineman and a three-year varsity starter, has been playing football for five years. He says "There's nothing better than the camaraderie. I like the contact, and the excitement of game day."
The first scrimmage of the year is an annual three-way practice game between South River High School, Severna Park High School and my team, Severn School. The teams get together at South River or Severna Park. Two teams will be on the field at once, with one team's offense running 12 consecutive plays against an opposing defense. Then the teams rotate, and another offense and defense take the field.
Coaches and players see what plays work, how other defenses react to plays and how their own defense holds up against an offense. Players knock heads with players other than those on their team, letting out aggression that has steadily built up from the first day of practice. The first scrimmage is a key part of the season, an event coaches and players alike, on all teams, look forward to.
But before we are ready to go against other teams, we must be prepared. So we practice for many hours, in split sessions called two-a-days.
I arrive slightly before 8am and head down to the varsity locker room. At 8am sharp, Head Coach John Beckman joins the sleepy athletes and begins the morning "chalk-talk." Here he diagrams plays and patiently shows what each player has to do for the play to work.
Linemen learn blocking schemes, running backs learn what steps to take and where to get the ball and receivers learn what routes to take and when to block. Chalk talk lasts up to a half hour. Then we put on our equipment.
First on is a belt that holds hip and butt pads in place. Next, pants with thigh and knee protection, followed by cleats. Finally, we don shoulder pads and helmets, and some 15 pounds heavier per man, the team moves to the practice field.
On the field, we take a brief jog and stretch to warm up. Next up is "stations," a series of group encounters to build speed, strength and endurance. Then we head into individual offense, practicing according to position. We're two hours into the morning before we come together for team offense.
The starting offense, already tired from the practice, try their best to run plays to perfection, while the rest of the team forms a scout defense. Any play that is not run right, or any mistake, must be pointed out so every play is perfect. We will run the play 10 times in a row if it is not done right. We run plays until 1pm.
When we break from morning practice, I am tired and my body aches, but I know I still have another three hours of football in my day. I get some lunch and rest up a bit. Still, with the August sun high, it's hard to summon the energy to focus on defensive practice. But I know I must, for intensity among players results in better practices, which result in better performance in the upcoming scrimmage.
As we practice each day in the searing heat of August, each player looks forward to testing his abilities against an opposing team. The easiest way to gauge your team's skill is playing another in a scrimmage. We know South River and Severna Park are going to play with all they've got, so we can't let down for a second on the field.
photo by Mark Burns Severn School's Admirals defensive squad huddles around coach Beckman.
After the last two-a-day, the team gets together to have a short practice before the Saturday scrimmage. We ask questions, run through plays without pads and focus our minds on the scrimmage. At home, I eat a spaghetti and salad dinner and head to bed early, heeding the advice of the coaches.
The dedication that we show as players can only be matched by our coaches. John Beckman, Severn's head coach, has coached organized football for 11 years. Frequently he puts in 30 to 35 hours a week just on football. This is in addition to the courses he teaches at school.
Why does he give so much time to football?
"For two reasons," he says. "One, I love the game itself, and two, it's a coach's game. Coaching decisions have to do with the outcome of the game, while in other sports coaches can't do anything during a game."
I wake at 6:35am, gather my gear, and leave for school, where I arrive at around 8am. Almost all the players are there, checking equipment and readying themselves for the scrimmage. After putting on girdle, pants, shoulder pads and helmet, I board the bus with the rest of the team. On the short ride to Severna Park High School, there is no talking, as each player concentrates on his assignments, thinking of what he has to do for each play.
All the teams are here.
First up, it's us taking the field on defense against Severna Park's offense. One team's offense gets 12 downs against another defense. After running those plays, the teams rotate, and another offense gets their shot. It is a good system, as one team is always getting a break.
The play is sent in to the huddle, and the offense moves up to the line of scrimmage. The linemen get in their ready positions, while the receivers make sure they're on the line. Quarterback Tommy Cleaver steps up to the center and calls out the signals.
"Down ready hit!" he calls as the ball is snapped and the play begins. He fakes the handoff to the left, then rolls out to his right. Suddenly, he spots an open running back. He fires the ball in, hitting David Roahen in the hands. Roahen catches the ball but is tackled after a short gain.
The sideline erupts in cheers, but the offense has no time to celebrate. They get back in the huddle, awaiting the next play.
Severn School continues to play well throughout the scrimmage, allowing only one score and scoring several times.
But in our last series, we let down. The tired players, thinking of the barbecue after the game, run a sloppy offensive series. South River stifles our offense, forcing a fumble and not allowing any significant gain.
Our coach takes this lesson to the final team huddle. "Guys," he says, "how was that last series?"
"Crap," the team reply comes back, everyone knowing we could have done better.
"If we had been in a close game in the fourth quarter and played like we did that last series, we would have lost the game," Coach Beckman says, giving us all a lesson to learn from.
So the first scrimmage is a success, except for our last offensive series. I grab some fried chicken and Gatorade and sit back with my teammates after the game. Already the scrimmage is in the past.
It's another week, another opponent. Now we must concentrate on new plays, working harder and preparing for a different team.
Even though I know we didn't play the best we could, I can still sit down with my teammates and enjoy some great food, looking forward to the next time we get to play some football.
-Tom B. Denney
Tom B. Denney of Churchton, a senior at Severn School and contributing writer, continues his football chronicles through the short high school season.
Bits & Pieces
One More Tobacco Harvest
Reprising a 300 year old ritual, Southern Maryland farmers began harvesting 1999's tobacco this week.
"At the beginning of August, tobacco farmers thought they didn't have anything. With last week's rain, their hopes are high for an abundant crop," says retired Tracey's Landing tobacco farmer Purnell Franklin.
With sharp-bladed knives, cutters slash the four-foot-high tobacco plants. After the cut plant has dried a couple of hours in the sun, it's speared onto a five-foot-long stick and hung up to dry.
Driving Southern Maryland roads, you'll see the crop drying in wooden barns with slats opened so air reaches the plant, giving the leaves the desired brown color.
-Mary Catherine Ball
Port Republic hosted over 20 lancers on August 28, there to gallop in the 133rd Calvert County Jousting Tournament - touted by organizers as the oldest joust in the nation. The contest reflected the 20th century's more refined sensibilities, however. Lances pierced only metal rings draped in string and competitors' chests stayed comfortably intact. Jousting is Maryland's state sport.
North Beach Fested
North Beach's 16th Bay Fest, the resurgent town's new and improved two-day celebration, exceeded all expectations according to Mayor Mark Frazer. "The turn out was a spectacular success," says the mayor. People flocked to the Fest like a gaggle of geese to enjoy live music, plentiful food, arts and crafts, watermelon eating and three-legged contests, a parade and luau.
"The town's trying to do so much to change that this year's Bay Fest was something not to miss. With so much food and so many crafts, it was the best in the five or six years I've gone. Lots of my friends came back a second day," says townie Joe Ortenzo. No word yet on how much cash rolled in from the event.
Come Surfside for Shelby
Surfside 7 Restaurant & Dock Bar in Edgewater once again steps up to the cause. This time it's for little Shelby Tribull, an eight-year-old girl struck by a car last April while riding her bike near her home in Cape St. Claire.
As Shelby begins the long haul to recovery, working with physical and speech therapists to heal head trauma and a broken leg, her parents struggle to pay $200,000 in bills not covered by insurance.
On Sunday, September 5, Surfside 7 holds a silent auction to benefit the Shelby Tribull Medical Fund. Still welcome are donations of services, goods or monetary contributions in support of the silent auction.
The event gets lively with a summer concert series featuring several local bands jamming the day away while old and new friends enjoy Bayside dining.
Housepainting by Abby
Reaching out to help three-year-old Abby Orr, of Deale, might get your house painted.
Family and friends have organized a benefit raffle to help the Orr family cope with neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder of bones, skin and nerves.
One goals is to help pay for a wheelchair .
Your $20 donation could bring Mac McCallum and crew to "add some sparkle to your house." They will spend five days painting the in- or outside of your home. All materials and labor are included. The work is valued at $5000. Buy your ticket now for the October 30 drawing.
-Mary Catherine Ball
Capitol Steps Up to Calvert
Political satirists Capitol Steps make a country visit to Calvert County's Mary Harrison Cultural Arts Center in Owings to bless a good cause with their wicked and well-aimed wit pointed at government folly and the egos of politicians.
Tickets are selling fast for Calvert Alliance Against Substance Abuse's Friday, September 10 benefit for Project Graduation, which helps keep Calvert's graduating seniors off the road on their big night.
Why Capitol Steps?
"During the election year, we thought people would like political wit and that they'd rather pay $20 than $50 and stay at home rather than drive into Washington," says Alliance member Grace Rymer.
Buy your tickets now at any Calvert Bank, Bay Hill Accents in Chesapeake Beach or Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller's law offices in Dunkirk or pay $25 at the door.
You'll laugh all the way to November.
K-12: 90,500 Students Swell AA, Calvert Schools
August 30 began Back to School week for many children in Anne Arundel, Calvert and Prince Georges counties, with big yellow buses rolling down our streets and highways.
Not all children were on those buses, though. In Anne Arundel County, the lower level grades in each middle and high school started their school week on Monday. With Anne Arundel enrollment approaching 75,000, schools started on a staggered schedule, reports Jane Doyle, spokeswoman for the Anne Arundel School Board.
Tuesday, August 31 was school's first day for students in all other grades, except pre-K, opening Thursday, September 2.
Anne Arundel high schools typically begin at 7:17am, middle schools between 8 and 8:20am and the elementary schools from 9 until 9:30am.
Calvert County also had a staggered opening day for its 15,500 students. Friday, August 27 was a half-day for students in sixth and ninth grades, with all students putting in a full day on Monday, August 30.
With the opening of the new Dowell Elementary School in Southern Calvert, the question on many parents' minds was bussing.
High school students are bussed first, then middle followed by the elementary students. With so many students and so many schools, the actual arrival times at each school is different.
"The tiered system seems to work out great," said Ron Jetmore, who supervises transportation for the Calvert County Board of Education.
Whew! Going back to school's such hard work that schools close again Monday, September 6, for Labor Day.
Each school system has their own set of guidelines and rules of conduct. There'll be many changes in every system this year, due to the increased security measures adopted at the state level. Students should be bringing guidelines home in the next couple of weeks.
Many schools have early dismissals throughout the year with some systems having no school just for their kindergarten and pre-k classes. Check with the school, or better yet ask for a school calendar.
While you are penning in these dates and times on your own calendar, why not pencil in a few hours to volunteer at your child's school? Even if you don't have a child in school anymore, you are always welcome to lend a hand. Many teachers just need help cutting out items or making copies.
If you like to read, there are many programs where volunteers donate an hour a month reading to the students. Have a special talent or something you can share with the class? The opportunities are endless and your gift of time is priceless.
In Anne Arundel, get answers to your questions at your child's school or from the Board of Education: 410/222-5000.
In Calvert, get answers to your questions at your child's school or from the Board of Education: 410/535-1700. Calvert also closes on Friday, September 17 for a staff development day for teachers and a down day for the students.
In Prince Georges County, the 129,200 students in grades K-12 began all together on August 31. Parents should contact the school assigned to their residence to find out exact times that the children need to be in their classrooms. The county's informative automated system has answers to most questions. Dial 301/952-6000 and listen to the instructions. Press 9 for up-dated information on events and holidays. Prince Georges County schools will also be closed Monday, September 20 in observance of Yom Kippur.
-Lori L. Sikorski
Lori Sikorski - broadcast journalist and former editor of the Tricounty Parent Line - is a new contributing writer for New Bay Times. She lives with her husband Paul and three children in Lusby.
Celebrate 9/9/99 to the Nines
With his 40th birthday falling on 9/9/99, Bil Shockley figured he'd better throw a party.
Bil Shockley sits in the restaurant of which he's co-owner, Vic's Italia by the Bay in Chesapeake Beach, facing a milestone in his life, his 40th birthday. Italian movie posters line the walls staring back at him. He knows them all by heart, The Postman, La Dolce Vita. But one - Big Night - catches his attention.
The storyline - a collection of restaurateurs throwing a big bash to save their troubled establishmen - plays in Shockley's mind as he prepares his own big night..
A year ago, Shockley's sister had noted that his upcoming birthday would fall on 9/9/99. Certainly, this was occasion to celebrate. At that moment, a grand idea occurred. Shockley would not only throw a bash but invoke a cause, a cause close to his heart.
Three years ago, Shockley's nephew Richard was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Living in Italy at the time, Richard and his parents sought help from doctors but were given no hope, no chance of survival.
Back in Washington, D.C., Children's Hospital and the American Brain Tumor Association guided the family to a specialist. After surgery and chemotherapy, the odds were no longer against them.
Today, Richard is a survivor.
"A lot of this benefit is about thanking those that helped my nephew and my family through that tough time," says Uncle Bil Shockley. "It's also about thanking my customers. The regulars have become like family. There's a real sense of community and they are supporting me all the way," he adds.
This night Shockley hopes none who come will ever forget. In return for $99.99 donations to the American Brain Tumor Association, Shockley invites 99 friends to step back in time, into the mystique of Casablanca. He plans to dress to the nines - keeping with the theme - in a white dinner jacket and black tie, inviting all to do the same. That's just the beginning.
"The way we're setting the evening up, the type of night you have is up to you. We have fantastic food inside served in elegance, but we've got a deck party outside," Shockley says.
Elaborate food stations will fill the main dining room. Shockley promises carving stations, seafood, pasta and salads and - above all - satisfaction for every guest. He also offers a full open bar downstairs, with coffee and cordials setting the relaxed tone upstairs and mixed and frozen drinks outside on the party deck.
Headlining the outside deck party is international pops and blues touring artist Deanna Bogart. Despite the rigorous tour schedule Bogart follows, she committed to this night, to this cause.
"She is always wanting to give something back because of all she gets from her audience," says Nick Sharp, Bogart's manager and husband.
"There won't be another 9/9/99 until the next millennium," Shockley says. "You should come have a great time and help a good cause."
The Nines Benefit Bash @ Vic's Italia by the Bay in Chesapeake Beach for the American Brain Tumor Association. $99.99 per person with an all-inclusive open bar and all-you-can-eat buffet tables. Doors open at 6pm and band begins at 7pm. Tickets on sale now: 301/855-3810.
-Mary Catherine Ball
Way Downstream ...
In Atlanta, Home Depot has announced that by 2002, it will empty its stores in Maryland and everywhere of old-growth wood products harvested in environmentally sensitive areas. The company is responding to the demands of conservationists ...
Australia is mad at the Japanese for taking home too many bluefin tuna, and it's no wonder why. Just one big bluefin fetches $40,000 in Japanese markets, the Guardian of London reports ...
In Britain, a resident of the city of Mansfield has gotten a warning from England's Royal Mail Service: Those brightly-flowered hydrangeas along the path pose a threat to letter carriers. Why? According to the Journal of Commerce, the mail service says water drips off the bushes on to the path, making it slippery and hazardous ...
Our Creature Feature comes from Maine, where the moose population is mushrooming - from 2,000 to 30,000 since the beginning of the century. One reason is the decline of wolves, their natural predator, and another is conversion of farms to forest habitat.
Now, reports the Christian Science Monitor, hundreds of tourists are seeing the face "only a mother could love."
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Volume VII Number 35
September 2-8, 1999
New Bay Times
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