The last tangible bit of salvation for county football teams is on the line Friday night.
Westminster is part of a four-team logjam tied with one loss each in the Central Maryland Conference, and it could go a long way toward winning or sharing a league title with a win at home over Linganore 7:30 Friday night.
Linganore is atop the league standings with a 4-1 mark after being upset Friday by Frederick County rival Thomas Johnson, 9-7. Westminster is 3-1 after topping Liberty, 24-21, Friday.
Linganore finishes the season with a non-league game, while Westminster ends with traditional county and CMC foe South Carroll.
Frederick and Thomas Johnson also take 3-1 records into the final two weeks of the season. Frederick is at South Carroll, and Liberty goes to Thomas Johnson Friday night in a pair of 7:30 games that will have a major impact on final league standings. Frederick and Thomas Johnson meet the following week in their traditional finale.
To win, the Owls are going to have to stop Linganore's leading rushers, Duane Musselman and Ronnie McGarvey. More importantly, Westminster must find ways to penetrate the Lancers' stingy defense, which has been allowing about 130 yards and eight points a game.
Westminster counters with an array of running backs, led by Mike Rogers. Westminster's passing game is erratic, but Marty Brennan's numbers (29-for-67 for 381 yards) are a bit better than those of Linganore's Richard Coffey (26-for-54 for well under 300 yards).
In other sports this weekend:
* Regional tournaments are in full swing this week, and the county cross country teams have good reason to expect some success Thursday afternoon.
Westminster High plays host to the Class 4A Region I meet at 3 p.m. at Western Maryland College after having swept the county and CMC championships. Westminster's boys should win their region crown over Perry Hall of Baltimore County.
The girls' team will have to battle Dulaney of Baltimore County, which won that county's title last week and finished just ahead of the Owls at the Westminster Invitational. Dulaney's Amanda White, daughter of former Baltimore Colts linebacker Stan White, is favored to win the girls' title.
Francis Scott Key's boys, third in the county and second in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League, have their sights set on a state Class 1A title. But the Region II championships at 2 p.m. Thursday at Oregon Ridge Park in Baltimore County will be tough.
Milford Mill was fourth in the 21-team Baltimore County championships last week, paced by individual champion Mike Mamo. With Brunswick's Russ Adams lost to graduation, Mamo becomes the early individual favorite, with Key and the Millers vying for the team title.
Milford Mill, seventh in the Baltimore County race, and Brunswick will battle for the girls' title.
In the Class 3A Region I race at 3 p.m. Thursday at South Carroll, Howard County teams likely will be favored in both races.
Oakland Mills will be the prohibitive favorite in the boys' race, with Centennial of Howard County, North Hagerstown of Washington County and South Carroll fighting it out for the next spots. Pat Rodrigues of Centennial, the defending state Class 3A champ, should be the individual champ, with a pack of Oakland Mills runners following close behind.
Centennial, third in last week's Howard County championships behind a pair of Class 2A powers, and Liberty should be among the girls' favorites. Patty Barnhardt and Rachael Adams of Liberty, Joanna Boettinger of Linganore and Alicia Brown of Oakland Mills should be among the leaders.
* Some of the country's best small-college runners will descend on the Westminster area Saturday for the Middle Atlantic Conference championships at 11 a.m. at the Carroll County Farm Museum.
Haverford (Pa.) College, one of the top NCAA Division III teams in the county, is expected to defend easily its MAC title. In the women's race, Swarthmore's title defense likely will be challenged by Gettysburg, Dickinson and Franklin & Marshall.
* The Western Maryland volleyball team competes in the MAC volleyball tournament with a quarterfinal match at 7 p.m. Thursday at home against Moravian. The winner advances to Saturday's final round at Juniata (Pa.) College.
The tournament, formerly a one-site weekend event, was restructured this year to move the quarterfinal round to the campus of the higher seed. Western Maryland is third seed, Moravian seventh and Juniata is favored to win its 10th-straight title.
* The Green Terrors football team, sidetracked in a non-league game last week, will try to regain its winning ways in a Centennial Football Conference game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Bair Stadium.