Laurel Players Part of Towson Turnaround
Football players from Pallotti Prep, Reservoir and Atholton were with team that advanced to the national playoffs; Salisbury also had local standouts on its post-season squad.
Rob Ambrose, the head coach of the Towson University football team, took a few seconds to gather his emotions before speaking to a room full of reporters Saturday evening at Johnny Unitas Stadium near Baltimore.
"It's hard to say this, but it's the honest statement," said Ambrose. "I don't think I could have imagined being more proud to be a head coach of an institution than I was today when I came out and saw my guys and saw this community. I'm usually pretty good at this, but that was awe-inspiring."
Towson, which was winless in the Colonial Athletic Association in 2010, won the league title this year and advanced to the national playoffs before losing at home Saturday to Lehigh, 40-38, before a crowd of more than 11,000 fans.
Members of the team this season with ties to Laurel included freshman reserve offensive tackle Derek Pittman, a 6-foot-5 graduate of Pallotti Prep in downtown Laurel. Pittman was a standout lineman for the Panthers during the 2010 season and received attention from Maryland and Virginia before heading to Towson.
Laurel resident Eric Schuster, a graduate of Reservoir High in Howard County, was a redshirt freshman defensive back for the Tigers.
Other Reservoir grads on the roster included Mike Evans, a junior tight end from Fulton. He played in all 12 games with three starts this year and had one catch for 30 yards.
Evans played football, basketball and lacrosse at Reservoir and his grandfather played football at Clemson. Last year he played in 10 games and had two catches for Towson.
Another Reservoir grad on the roster was Ryan Evans, a freshman linebacker.
Towson was the most improved team in the Football Championship Series division in the nation. The Tigers were 9-3 this year after posting a mark of 1-10 last season.
The game was tied at 38 Saturday when Lehigh sacked Towson quarterback Grant Enders in his own end zone late in the fourth quarter to take a 40-38 lead. Lehigh then ran out the clock when they got the ball after the Towson free kick.
"I think they just had our number on that play," Enders said. "This was the last game. It just hurts."
Tom Bianchi, the Lehigh defensive lineman who made the safety, said: "It was the perfect play call. Our coaches made a great call."
Towson lost even though freshman running back Terrance West scored two touchdowns for the eighth game in a row. The Tigers lost earlier this season to Maryland, which won just two games this year.
"Not only am I proud to be the coach here. I'm proud to be a member of this community," Ambrose said. "My hats are off to the seniors. They deserve a degree of respect that most people will never understand except their brothers. I'm proud of my staff for fighting an uphill battle. I'm proud of my team for fighting even harder."
Towson was not the only state team to appear in the national playoffs. At the Division III level, Salisbury lost 34-14 on Saturday at Wisconsin-Whitewater in the NCAA quarterfinals.
Laurel residents on the Salisbury roster were sophomore Andy Bushong, a graduate of Reservoir High, and freshman kicker/punter Kyle Hamby, who went to football power Good Counsel High in Montgomery County.
Hamby played in all 13 games and averaged 37.2 yards per punt, with a long kick of 69 yards. He also had two tackles.
Another Reservoir grad on the team was Bryce Boring, a sophomore defensive back.
Atholton High grads with Salisbury included junior Nick Aloi and freshman defensive back Ryan Raines. Aloi played in 11 games, with two starts, and had one tackle and Raines played in one game with one tackle.
Tolson beats his former Laurel coach
Chris Tolson, a graduate of Laurel High, scored 15 points for Hampton in men's basketball as the Pirates beat Howard University 71-53 on Sunday in New York City.
Tolson, a guard, made six of nine shots from the field against Howard. The Bison coaching staff includes Keith Coutreyer, who was Tolson's coach at Laurel High. Coutreyer was also an assistant at Hampton before he took the job at Howard prior to last season.
Another Howard assistant is Antoine Gaither, a former player and coach at Laurel High. Milade Lola-Charles, who also played at Laurel for Coutreyer, also plays for Hampton and did not score against Howard.
Howard got nine points from Prince Okoroh, who played at Eleanor Roosevelt High in Greenbelt. Largo High grad Brandon Bailey had six points for Howard, which fell to 2-5.
Hampton is now 4-4 this season.