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Saints expect some senior moments

September 01, 2010|By BOB PARASILITI
  • Avery Wilmore
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SAINT JAMES -- Like the owner of any full house, the Saint James School football team leads out with a strong pair.

Many things could be in the cards for the Saints, who have 16 of their 25 players returning for their senior years. That, in itself, is a huge starting point for coach Chris Milmoe's third season. The familiarity and camaraderie can only help Saint James get started.

Mike and Mo Townes are the poster children for the tight-knit Saints. Not only are they fourth-year players in the Saint James program, they are two of its returning starters who have the instincts of experience on their side.

But, oh yeah, there is that other thing. They are twin brothers, who also have the experience of instincts on their side. The only thing identical about these twins is the drive to succeed.

"I have had an instant bond with him since birth," said Mike Townes, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound starting running back. "I can just look at (Mo) and know what he is feeling and what he is going to do. It's twin-telepathy."

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The brotherly bond adds an interesting hook for Saint James' attack. Mike Townes runs the ball and, many times, it will be behind Mo Townes, who will be the Saints' 6-foot-3, 240-pound starting left tackle. That family familiarity breeds everything but contempt.

"He can run off of my butt and know what I'm going to do," Mo Townes said. "If I miss something, he knows how to read me and knows how to react to what I do."

The pair gives Saint James some favorable odds to come up with a winning hand.

"What makes Mike and Mo special is their love of the game," said Milmoe. "They love Saint James -- the school and the program. They respect the people, the academics and the athletics. They are so positive, they are never down. Most kids have down moments and you have to talk them back, but these two are never negative."

Those are all good starting traits for Saint James. It makes it easy for the rest of the boys to be in back of the Towneses.

For Milmoe, Saint James is on the upside of a senior cycle, which only adds to the optimism.

"It's nice to have the 16 seniors," he said. "It's nice not to have to start everything at zero. The guys are coming out and remembering what they are doing. In our first team offense session, we were able to go straight out. Guys were remembering their steps and there was timing. It made things easy."

The senior quotient has translated favorably for Milmoe and the Saints. In the coach's first year, he had 14 seniors and Saint James responded with a 6-3 record. Last year, there were just six seniors and a lot of young players without much seasoning, leading to a 4-4 season.

Saint James is well stocked. The Saints have nine seniors and two juniors playing offense, including six returning starters. Joining Townes times two are senior quarterback Jamie Peterson and junior receiver Avery Wilmore, who was selected All-Mid Atlantic Conference.

Peterson will have the luxury of playing behind four returning linemen and in front of two experienced running backs. Mo Townes and Ross Reid, who were guards last year, will join forces on the left side of the line. Townes moves in at left tackle, which will give the Saints protection and stability on that side of the line.

"We are looking for a more balanced offense," Milmoe said. "It takes some of the offense from Jamie but puts it with Mike (Townes) and (fullback Chris Pritchard). We have to limit turnovers. Jamie has some maturity and will be able to make better decisions, but getting the offense more balanced will help."

Joining Wilmore at receiver will be Kevin McCormack at split end and Tommy Wagner at wideout.

"McCormack is like a little Wes Welker," Milmoe said. "He is 5-9, 160, but he is a pure football player. He makes catches and never gets rocked. Tommy has added speed with all the work he has done during the summer."

The apparent strength of Saint James' defense is in the secondary with McCormack, who showed a remarkable knack for interceptions, and Wilmore to back up a changing defensive front. The Saints will be switching from a 5-2 to a 4-3 set, just because they have a more ample supply of linebackers.

One addition is Aiden Scrivens, who comes to Saint James from England after playing four years of American football with a club team. "He runs through tackles and hits hard."

Hal Smith, a converted receiver who is now the center, will also play outside linebacker.

Wagner, the all-county kicker, returns with McCormack and Wilmore looking at return duties.

"The motto this year is 'Whatever It Takes,'" Milmoe said. "It is whatever it takes in sacrifice for the team and to win games. The way we perform in our first three games (all at home against Options Public Charter School, Hancock and Bishop Walsh) will determine how we do this year. If we can play with the energy level we need in those games, we could be very dangerous."

That would be fine for the Townes, natives of North Hagerstown, who would like to go out in a big brotherly way.

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