A few thoughts on the local sports scene as the fall season swings into full gear Monday and Tuesday: *Another area field hockey team has bitten the dust.
Brunswick High of Frederick County dropped the sport this year after longtime coach Carol Smith, also the athletic director, quit to coach the newly formed golf team. No replacement could be found, though Smith was quoted in the Frederick News-Post as saying she contacted about 25 people while looking for a coach.
That leaves just three remaining Monocacy Valley Athletic League schools with the sport -- Walkersville and Middletown of Frederick County and Key -- and four teams in Class 1A Region I.
The growth of girls soccer is one of the factors blamed for the demise, but it's an argument I don't buy. Carroll County is a model for a fall girls athletic program -- four sports, with recent state championships in three of them.
The addition of girls soccer back in 1983 caused barely a ripple in field hockey circles, even though hockey coaches were worried. True, South Carroll and Liberty had a few lean years, but North Carroll, Westminster and Key have been competitive at the state level just about every year, and county schools always had full varsity and junior varsity teams.
Liberty, North Carroll and Westminster all have had top showings at state cross country meets, and North Carroll and Key have sent volleyball teams to the state tournament. Only in soccer has Carroll lagged behind other counties. That, too, has improved in recent years.
Around the state, only Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford, Howard and Montgomery counties have a fall girls program with the scope of Carroll's. And even in Montgomery, girls soccer still is a spring sport, since many of the boys coaches also lead the girls teams.
Prince George's, the largest school system in the state, doesn't even offer hockey or soccer for girls, and many other smaller systems only offer volleyball and/or cross country. That's why Washington County schools have been so good in 1A and 2A volleyball over the years.
Frederick offers as many sports for girls as Carroll, but many of the schools don't have field hockey teams, and some don't have full girls cross country teams. And while the Frederick schools may keep up with Carroll in soccer and, to a lesser extent, cross country, their hockey teams are only fair and volleyball teams weak.
So let's hear a cheer for Carroll's fall sports lineup for girls, and let's give a big jeer to those many areas that have paltry offerings and weak programs.
*While there are fewer field hockey teams, the pool of wrestling teams is expanding.
Middletown added wrestling for this winter, meaning eight of 10 MVAL schools will offer the sport.
Key Athletic Director Gary Watson said the league began a regular-season championship format a year ago -- though hardly anyone outside the wrestling community knew about it.
"With schools from three counties, we're not able to schedule a championship meet," Watson said.
I have no idea why Washington County can't do it, but Key and the four Frederick schools in the MVAL certainly could have a meet at the same time the Central Maryland Conference has one.
Dual-meet championships are nice, but there's nothing like a well-matched postseason tournament to generate fan interest. And while Catoctin, Middletown, North Hagerstown and Walkersville might struggle in a MVAL tournament, Key, Smithsburg and Williamsport could make for a dandy competition.
*It may be too early to get excited about the season, but the first-week performance of Carroll's high school and college football teams gives reason for optimism.
All the county teams won except for Key -- which played another Carroll team -- and most looked impressive.
Westminster got strong offensive and defensive play from just about everybody, especially Boomer and Calvin Warfield. North Carroll's Jay Snell had a dynamite game at quarterback, and receiver-defensive back Mike Downs had an excellent game for South Carroll.
Liberty seems to have the makings of a pretty good ground game, but, perhaps, should be concerned about its passing game and defense. Glenelg of Howard County didn't score against the Lions, but the team gained 345 total yards, including 270 yards passing.
Even Key coach Mike Coons has to feel good about the performance of quarterback Jason Nunnelee, who completed 11 of 20 for 108 yards and a touchdown, even though North Carroll knew he would be passing for much of the game.
And at Western Maryland, Coach Dale Sprague likely was glowing over the performances of Eric Frees (131 yards rushing, an 82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and four total touchdowns) and North Carroll grad Rob Johnson (199 multipurpose yards). Quarterback Mike Hamm (10-of-18 for 165 yards and two touchdowns) also was impressive.
By the way, all of the county's quarterbacks, with the exception of Liberty's Joe Brown, completed more than half their passes. When's the last time that happened around here?