The fall sports season has been dead for a little over three weeks now, and save for a few college and recreation events, it's been pretty slim pickings for Carroll sports fans since then.
That will change today.
Seven of the county's 10 public school basketball teams start their seasons today. Two more begin tomorrow, and the last one has its lid-lifter Friday.
Most of the early season action will feature non-league opponents, with the exception of Francis Scott Key, which plays in the 10-team Monocacy Valley Athletic League and has precious few non-league contests in its 22-game (including holiday tournament) slate.
By default, then, Key's early season games take on the most significance. The Eagle boys open at home tonight against South Hagerstown, then hit the road Friday for a Carroll County game against Liberty. (All games feature a 5:30 p.m. junior varsity start, with the varsity game following about 7 unless otherwise noted.) The locations are just the opposite for Liberty's girls, with tonight's starting time at South Hagerstown at 6 p.m. for the jayvees and about 7:30 for the varsity.
The varsity games Friday will be early season indications of which teams have improved the most since last season, though many are predicting Key and Liberty to finish at the bottom of the county standings in both boys and girls basketball this winter.
Liberty's boys, meanwhile, tune up for the Key match with a home game tonight against Baltimore County power Towson, while the girls travel to Ellicott City to open against Howard this evening.
The North Carroll boys have three consecutive home games to start the season, beginning tonight when Catoctin invades Hampstead with a new coach.
Carroll resident and former Liberty assistant John Verderosa is no longer coaching the Cougars, a program that has been one of the weaker ones in the Carroll-Frederick-Washington County area.
The Panthers come back Friday with a game against Baltimore County neighbor Hereford.
North Carroll's girls don't open until Thursday night, when Fallston of Harford County visits. On Saturday, North Carroll travels to Walkersville in Frederick County to take on one of the perennial MVAL powers.
South Carroll's early schedule is heavy with Howard County teams. The girls play host to Wilde Lake tonight, then visit Centennial Friday (5 p.m.
junior varsity, 6:30 varsity). The boys start Friday at Walkersville (6 p.m. jayvee, 7:30 varsity), which also boasts a strong MVAL boys program.
Westminster's boys open at home tonight against Quince Orchard of Montgomery County in a Class 4A matchup, then play host to Glenelg of Howard County Friday. The Owls' girls team tours Anne Arundel County for its first two games, visiting powerful Annapolis today and meeting Chesapeake Monday (5:15 p.m. jayvee, 6:45 varsity).
In other sports this weekend:
* Three county wrestling squads will compete in Anne Arundel tournaments this weekend, but the season kicks off tonight with dual and tri-meets.
North Carroll will battle Anne Arundel's Meade and Severna Park in a 5:30 p.m. tri-meet at Severna Park, while Westminster travels to Poly in Baltimore for a 4 p.m. match. South Carroll's season starts tomorrow with a home tri-meet against Howard County's Glenelg and Hammond at 4:30 p.m.
Key and Liberty travel to Annapolis Friday and Saturday for a tournament, while North Carroll travels to northern Anne Arundel for the Meade Tournament the same two days.
* At Western Maryland College, the school's four winter varsity teams play this weekend before an extended holiday break.
The women's basketball team, after an important Middle Atlantic Conference road game tonight at 7 against Johns Hopkins, faces York at 2 p.m. Saturday at home. The Terrors then are off until Jan. 3.
The men, after visiting Catholic University in Washington tonight at 7:30, play an MAC game at home Saturday at 8. They play again Dec. 15-16 in the Scranton Invitational, then take off until Jan. 7.
The wrestling team brings a 5-0 record into its home match with Gallaudet University of Washington tomorrow night at 7, then takes on MAC and NCAA Division III power Lycoming College in Pennsylvania at 2 p.m.
Saturday. The Terrors then are off until mid-January.
The men's and women's swim teams, fresh off a Saturday sweep of Goucher College in Baltimore County, compete against Mary Washington tomorrow night at 7, then have an extended break until mid-January.