Nothing seems capable of totally wrecking the locomotive-like power of Dan Ricker's Oakland Mills wrestling program, although occasionally some slight derailments occur.
Such a derailment happened Saturday afternoon at Oakland Mills, where the Scorpions lost their opening dual meet to defending Class 3A Region IV champion McDonough of Charles County, 30-21.
The Scorpions, undefeated (7-0) in last year's county dual-meet season, and winner of the county tournament by a mind-boggling record 239.5 total points, could easily have beaten the perennially tough Rams Saturday.
But a couple of things went wrong.
The first was that Brett DuVall, a county tourney runner-up last year, quit the team the day before the meet.
The second was that Ricker was ejected during the 145-pound match after the Oakland Mills bench was called for its second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
The calls were made for cursing and Ricker said he didn't do it. But the head coach takes the blame if any of his players curse on the bench. The team also forfeited one point for the first call, and two more for the second call that retired Ricker to the locker room.
At the time of the second call, the Scorpions trailed, 15-11, and seemed on the brink of a comeback.
In fact, 145-pound first-year junior Marcus Myles was trailing Chris Hawkins at the time, 7-6. It was the second period of the match. But Myles rallied in the third period with a reversal, takedown and near fall to win, 13-8.
The win pulled Oaklnd Mills to within three points, 15-12. That was minus the three points for unsportsmanlike conduct. It could have been tied. Then the Rams pulled off two straight pins at 152 pounds and 160 pounds to post a commanding 27-12 lead.
It was the 152-pound match, which turned out to be crucial, where DuVall would have wrestled and probably won.
Dustin Blackwell's 7-2 victory at 171 for Oakland Mills and Monti Spencer's pin in the heavyweight bout might have meant something had DuVall wrestled and the unsportsmanlike conduct calls not happened.
Spencer is off to a great season. His 5-0 record includes two pins and first place at the rugged Annapolis Tournament, where Oakland Mills finished eighth as a team Dec. 8.
Spencer was Oakland Mills' only champion at that tournament, although Dan Bickell and Adam Seidman both finished third and Kalev Freeman was fourth.
Bickell looked sharp against McDonough Saturday, earning a pin with a lightning-like cradle move in 1 minute, 29 seconds at 119 pounds. He was 27-7 last year and is 5-1 this year.
Seidman also won, 6-2, at 125 pounds against one of McDonough's better wrestlers, Larry Green. Seidman, a sophomore, was one of the team's top wrestlers last year, winning a county title.
Freeman, another defending county champ, also won at 130 pounds, 8-2.
His win gave the Scorpions a brief, 11-9 team lead.
But McDonough's Marty Margolis at 135 pounds beat a tough first-time wrestler, Brian Dunbar, 6-2. Margolis is one of the top wrestlers in the state.
Then Joe Salinas, a returnee, wrestled sub-par for Oakland Mills at 140 pounds, losing to Damon Newsome, 12-8. Salinas trailed after every period but was behind only 7-6 during the third period.
Those two victories gave McDonough a 15-11 lead and the Rams never trailed again against an inexperienced Oakland Mills lineup that included seven first-year varsity wrestlers.
McDonough was also short on experienced wrestlers, however.
"Our team graduated five wrestlers who won a total of 130 matches for us last year, so we are down this year," McDonough coach Dom Zacarelli said.
"But we still have some good individuals."
In addition to DuVall, Oakland Mills was also missing two other key wrestlers for Saturday's match. Two-time defending county champion Brian Lopez has a sore shoulder and may or may not wrestle this year. He has not wrestled yet.
And Mike Maughan, a county junior varsity champ who wrestles in the 125-pound class, was missing with a bad back. He should return soon, Ricker said.
"Maughan is a good one. He's going to be on Lopez's level," Ricker said.
Overall, Ricker was pleased with his team's progress this year, and predicted they'd be ready when the county dual-meet season begins Jan. 10.