Suter Kegg's - Tapping the Keg
Evening Times - November 24, 1975
WHAT DO YOU THINK about that football situation
at Fort Hill?
months ago, even before the high school football season
had begun, questions like the one above were being asked
throughout the area. There were stories about players
quitting the squad in wholesale numbers shortly after
practice started in mid-August. Charley Lattimer, the
school's veteran head coach, didn't deny that some players
had quit. "It's nothing to be concerned about;
happens every year," he explained. "The ones
who quit wouldn't have played anyway."
who stayed, however, have made it impossible to single
out any player for an award - if there would be one
given by the school - to "the boy who wouldn't
quit." That honor would have to be shared by every
gridder on the squad because those "boys who wouldn't
quit" made history by becoming the first Cumberland
schoolboy team to win a dozen games in a season and
the first one to cop a state championship.
is the same Sentinel squad that lost through injuries
three players for the season even before a game was
played. Bob Hadra, a defensive back, sustained a broken
neck while Dave Bittner, an offensive guard and linebacker,
and Larry Chucci, a guard suffered knee injuries. Hadra
and Bittner had already been assured of starting positions
at the time.
key injuries, plus losses through attrition, didn't
exactly cause Lattimer to push the panic button but
it did document the need for a new evaluation of the
team's personnel by the coaching staff. As it turned
out, the injuries, critical as they were, came early
enough for replacement players to solidify themselves
before the season started.
the best-laid plans of mice and men often go astray,
Lattimer had seen enough of determination, ability and
good old gut football from the Sentinels to convince
himself that Fort Hill had itself some championship
material. "I saw this in a pre-season scrimmage
we had with James Wood High at Winchester," he
recalled. Despite being riddled by injuries and dead-wood
chopping, the Sentinel squad of 30 was quite impressive
in that scrimmage.
kids seemed to be awed by the fact that James Wood had
about 80 players dressed while we didn't have even half
that many," said Lattimer. "I told them not
to be overwhelmed by numbers because each team could
play only 11 boys at a time."
same situation prevailed through ten regular-season
games and two in the playoffs which resulted in a sweep
of title honors, capped by Saturday's big 34-8 conquest
of Douglass at Oxon Hill for the Maryland Class A championship.
think the record we had speaks well for the caliber
of football played in Western Maryland," Lattimer
noted yesterday, 18 hours after the frenzy of Saturday
night's big downtown welcome for the Red Raiders. "We
had what I consider the toughest schedule ever for a
Fort Hill team. We beat two Baltimore schools and a
Washington team. Three of those victories were over
double-A schools and the last two over the best "A"
teams in the state.
HILL COULD HAVE had a letdown against Douglass in the
wake of that emotion-draining victory in double overtime
against Northwood the week before. But the Sentinels,
as is the case with Lattimer coached teams, went into
the championship contest well prepared.
Red Raiders, sparked by their awesome offense featuring
the record-breaking touchdown running of Steve Trimble
and the pulverizing blocking of Lyle Peck, got the early
impetus against Douglass. And it was given to them by
the defense, resulting from a tip picked up by members
of the Sentinel staff in scouting the Douglass team.
that the center of the Eagles had a habit of lifting
the ball forward before snapping it on punts, the Sentinel
staff assigned nose guard Randy Hillegas to the task
of foiling the system. Hillegas practiced all week on
his assignment of kneeling in front of the center and
slapping at the ball as soon as it came off the ground.
He even worked on the maneuver in the locker room before
game was only minutes old when "Fort Hillegas"
got his chance. Failing to move the ball on the first
possession, the Eagles went into punt formation but
the ball never got to the kicker. Hillegas carried out
his assignment, getting his hands under the ball which
squirted off in the direction of a surprised blocking
back. He was stopped in his tracks and Fort Hill had
the ball deep in Douglass territory.
came phase No. 2 in the Sentinel plan. With Douglass
deployed to stop the wide, wide world of Trimble, Fort
Hill quarterback Chuck Spangler went up the middle for
19 yards and a touchdown. The Upper Marlboro team never
recovered from that bit of lightning and Fort Hill was
on its way to state supremacy.
there is a key to the 12-0 record Lattimer feels it
lies in unity. "I don't think I've ever seen such
a close-knit group of players in my 20 years of coaching,"
he said. "These kids are very unselfish and it
paid off as a team."
year will long be remembered as "PT (Peck, Trimble)
'75" because Peck's blocking and Trimble's scintillating
running were the heart of the attack. But the Sentinels
had it all in every phase with the possible exception
of its kicking game.
they had to make use of everything they had because
of the pressure of a rugged schedule and the fact that
Frederick's Thomas Johnson was always breathing down
the only injuries sustained by Fort Hill's "boys
who wouldn't quit" were those prior to the season.
They did, however, lose Mark Paupe, their do-it-all
quarterback, late in the season with mononucleosis,
but Spangler stepped into his shoes and filled them
like a veteran.
unparalleled success enjoyed by Fort Hill is, needless
to say, the highlight of Lattimer's long coaching career
although he knows the sweetness of a state championship,
having been on a Fort Hill basketball team that copped
a state crown.
think I savor this more, though," said the man
who made "PT '75" a virtual destroyer on the
stormy football seas. "And I'm happy that Ridgeley
also won the state championship of West Virginia. It's
truly a year to remember. Our records (both schools
were 12-0) can be tied but can't be broken unless the
state playoff format is changed."