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Tuesday - 8/14/2001

logoBy Ethan Lindsey,

Incoming senior Joe Benson emerged as a sensation last year for McDonogh High. The 6-5, 210-pound Benson played quarterback, place kicker, punter and defensive back for his school�s varsity squad.

Benson had earned All-City honors in 1999 for his kicking abilities but went 85-for-130 with 1,790 total yards to lead the Eagles' attack.

Combined with the 18 passing touchdowns and the four rushing TDs on 350 yards on the ground, Benson makes for a pretty formidable opponent.

That�s why the Baltimore Sun named him as the state�s Player of the Year. Benson isn�t the only heralded member of the McDonogh squad. Don Damico also earned Coach of the Year honors because of his successful quest for the MIAA B Conference title. The Eagles went 10-0 despite returning only three starters from the 1999 campaign. The team finished ranked No. 1 in the state by the Baltimore Sun �- just the second time the school has ended the season in the top spot.

Damico's 49-16 record at McDonogh includes 28 consecutive victories against the B Conference. Damico knows the season won�t be nearly as forgiving in 2001 as McDonogh moves up to the state�s A Conference.

CONFERENCE MERGERS PROPOSED: Carroll, Frederick and Washington County athletic directors and principals are said to be discussing the possible combination of the Central Maryland Conference with the Monocracy Valley Athletic League.

The talks will have no direct effect on the 2001 season, as sources say the merger would not happen until 2003-04, but it still presents major ramifications for league and state football races.

The proposed umbrella conference would have three divisions, based largely on school enrollment. While a merger of the MVAL and CMC has been talked about for more than a decade, recent population growth in the region has put the pressure on the county administrators. The proposed number of schools in the league would be pegged at 22, including 10 from the CMC, 8 from the MVAL, three new schools opening in the counties in the next two years, and Clear Valley High from Washington county.

RECRUITING HEATING UP: Incoming Urbana senior Billy Gaines stood out among 125 college prospects from five states at the Penn State Nike Football Camp earlier in the summer.

Gaines clocked a 4.22 and 4.25 on two separate 40-yard dash heats. Observers say those times were clearly the fastest from the field. Gaines had always stood out, even at powerhouse Urbana, but he outdistanced himself from rivals in New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Ohio and Maryland at the camp. Another Marylander with a strong showing was Eleanor Roosevelt running back Josh Allen, who clocked a 4.52 40.

STREAKS CONTINUE: Entering the 2001 season, Urbana hopes to stay on a track it has been on since 1998, as the school tries to hold on to its 38-game winning streak.

Crossland and Walter Johnson High both hope to break from tradition as each school has lost its last 20 consecutive games. Wotton High is currently the third-losingest school in the state with a 16-game streak intact.

Urbana�s streak is due in large part to the fact that the school was the strongest in the state on both the defensive and offensive sides of the line of scrimmage. Urbana outscored its opponents by an average score of 42-3.