Maryland football previews - Middletown

September 05, 2000

Maryland football previews - Middletown

D.J's sweet music - Knights' playoff spin focuses on Costello

By CURT HORNBECKER / Staff Correspondent

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photgrapher

D.J. CostelloMIDDLETOWN, Md. - If there's any wonder why Tim Ambrose has coached football at Middletown High School for 27 years, just look at his record.


At 210-61, Ambrose is the second winningest high school coach in the area, just three behind Musselman's Denny Price, and that difference is probably directly attributable to the number of playoff games Musselman has played (and won).

Tradition is a major component to the Knights' success, and in 2000, there's no reason to believe the tradition will end anytime soon.


"When these kids go into a game, they expect to win," said Ambrose.

Middletown had two big reasons to fold last year, losing its top two quarterbacks to injuries early in the season. But Jake Earp stepped in an led the Knights to a perfect 10-0 regular season before dropping the opening playoff game.

With that experience, one might logically expect Earp to take the helm again this year, but according to Ambrose, Earp is just one of three possible signal callers. Chris Anderson, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior, and senior Chris Schein are also vying for the nod. Anderson, because of his size, may have a slight edge over Earp and Schein.

Whoever takes the snaps for Middletown, they likely will hand the ball often to D.J. Costello, who at 6-3, 240, will likely be among the larger halfbacks in the area.

"He should be one of the best players in the (Monocacy Valley Athletic League) this year," said Ambrose. "He's extra strong, he has good speed (about 4.6 in the 40) and he's in fantastic shape. He'll haul the mail for us, and with his size, he should be a nasty person to try to tackle."

It's fortunate that Costello is big, because the Middletown offensive line is smaller this year than in previous seasons - but still huge compared to most teams in the area, averaging nearly 240 pounds.

Defensively, there are a few more question marks, primarily in the trenches, where the Knights were decimated by graduation.

"We lost our front five and one linebacker," said Ambrose, "and we had some real good inside guys.

"But it's not a real big concern, because you don't have any control over it. We're not replacing with as much talent as those guys had, and when you go into games with teams like Thomas Johnson, it makes a big difference."

After pencilling junior Chris Dillon in at nose tackle, Ambrose will likely fill in with offensive lineman to complete the defensive front. Scott Harshman is expected to join Moser and Fritz at linebacker, with any one of a half-dozen players competing for the secondary positions.

"We've developed the Middletown Football Alumni Association, and we have a term called 'Pride Is the Key'", said Ambrose. "We have kids come up through the middle school program, and they're familiar with it. The kids believe in it and feel like they have to emulate it to get to that point. It's a positive."

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