This fall season was good to three area youth rec teams, even though it proved a fickle benefactor in the end. The Freedom under-12 entry in the Carroll County Boys Soccer League roared to the regular-season divisional championship with an 11-0 record before falling, 2-1, to Pikesville in the first round of the postseason playoffs.
The Mount Airy Bulldogs were also undefeated during their regular season in the Mountain Valley Football League's Junior Varsity Mountain Division for 11-and 12-year-olds.
Like Freedom, the Bulldogs were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs when they were blanked, 22-0, by Damascus, a team Mount Airy had beaten earlier in the year.
The loss snapped the Mount Airy JV team's amazing streak of seven consecutive appearances in the Mountain Valley League super bowl.
The Bulldogs had won that classic six consecutive times before losing last year.
And, finally, in a sport generally associated with summertime, Sykesville's age 13-14 baseball team was 9-1 in the Glen Burnie Boys Fall Baseball League, finishing second in a field of 22.
The squad, drawn from Sykesville's in-house and Babe Ruth programs, won its first seven games before losing to Lake Shore, an Anne Arundel squad that went 10-0 to win the league.
Sykesville manager George Hancock said he had expected the loop to offer tough competition, but instead found it to be a mixed bag.
"Some of the teams we played weren't of travel caliber. They were more like in-house teams," said Hancock.
His players feasted off those weaker opponents, batting .500-plus as a team with an on-base percentage of over .600.
The offense was aided by a league rule that no pitcher could go more than three innings.
This resulted in many non-pitchers taking their turns -- and sometimes their lumps -- on the hill.
Hancock said he generally used his non-pitchers against the weaker teams, a strategy that often produced high-scoring games.
Despite the sometimes loose play, and the fact his team didn't win the league, it accomplished its mission, Hancock said.
"We wanted to give the kids some extra training," the Sykesville skipper said. "They got that training, even though they didn't get the competition each week."
He added that the fall league helped prepare some of the players for next spring's high school junior varsity season and also helped those who will play on Sykesville's entry in the summer Baltimore Metro Baseball League campaign.
"I was happy with the fall season," said Hancock. "We're ready for next year now."
So is Mike Roy, who coached the Freedom under-12 soccer team this year.
After all, virtually his entire team is eligible to come back and play under-12 ball next season.
But while his youngsters have proven over the past two years they have their regular seasons down pat, they have some work to do for those postseason playoffs.
For two years running, they have lost in the playoffs after winning regular-season titles.
"They were disappointed, no doubt about that," said Roy of his players' reaction to the heartbreaking Nov. 3 loss that again sent them prematurely to the postseason sidelines.
In that fateful contest, Freedom struggled through two 30-minute halfs and two 16-minute overtime periods against Pikesville before losing on a shootout.
All this was made even more frustrating by the fact they were beaten by the eighth-seeded team.
"We were a little tired maybe," Roy said, explaining that his youngsters had played two games the previous week in a Baltimore City soccer tournament.
Still, Roy was more than satisfied with his team's performance -- a combined 24-6 in league and tournament play this season.
He said that faced with the prospect of playing against generally older competition, he had expected no more than a .500 season when things began in September.
"They exceeded all expectations," Roy said.