A few thoughts on some of the more interesting results early in the winter sports season:
* North Carroll's 68 to -1 wrestling victory over Bel Air Wednesday may have been the most humorous score of the season, but Westminster's 34-33 victory over Loyola High of Baltimore County has been the stunner thus far.
Loyola started the season ranked No. 8 in the metro area by The Sun, so the Westminster win figures to be a major upset and, quite frankly, put the Owls a little bit ahead of the rest of the county teams -- except for North Carroll -- at this stage of the game. The win is somewhat more surprising because the Owls dropped their season-opener to Poly of Baltimore, an unranked team.
Francis Scott Key's loss to Catoctin last week was a bit of a surprise, too. True, the Eagles have a paucity of wrestlers with varsity experience, but Catoctin has only had a team for three seasons, and Key figured to have a few more good wrestlers than the Cougars.
But Catoctin's program is on the rise, and wrestling in Frederick County has made great strides over the past few years. It's still not in the same class as Carroll overall, and Frederick certainly had nowhere to go but up after nearly two decades of poor grappling, but our neighbors to the west appear to be making some improvements on the mats.
That strange North Carroll score, by the way, is the result of a team penalty point for the Bobcats, who were unable to muster any positive points against one of the top teams in the Baltimore area. While I've seen teams lose a point for unsportsmanlike conduct in the past, I've never seen a team finish the match with a negative score.
* County basketball teams are hardly off to a rousing start.
On the girls side, Westminster and North Carroll, both loaded with returning talent, have stumbled out of the starting blocks.
Chesapeake of Anne Arundel County upended the Owls, 56-52, in the season-opener. Chesapeake was not even mentioned among the top five or six teams in Anne Arundel County in preseason scouting reports.
North Carroll lost two of its first three, but the Panthers' losses are a bit easier to swallow.
Walkersville, which handed the Panthers a 56-37 setback, is perennially one of the top girls teams in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League. Glenelg, which handed the Panthers a 55-48 loss, is expected to challenge for the Howard County title (though three other teams from that county were ranked in an early season poll). The Gladiators are led by Tanissa Dorsey, one of the area's leading players.
Liberty started off the season well. After losing to Howard, a top-20 area team, Liberty reeled off victories over Key and Atholton of Howard County and is likely to improve on last season's 3-19 mark.
Westminster's boys, the preseason county favorites, fell to Quince Orchard of Montgomery County, 68-54, then later fell to Meade of Anne Arundel County, 59-44.
South Carroll, which was expected to move to the head of the class if Westminster faltered, opened its season with a loss, but that was a close, 65-62 verdict at the hands of Walkersville, perhaps one of the top Class 2A schools in the state.
North Carroll got out of the blocks fast, winning its first three games, but then along came Francis Scott Key.
You know, the same Key team that returned just three players from last year's 1-21 team and had others moving up from an 0-20 junior varsity.
Well, after stunning North Carroll, 60-39, Friday night, the Eagles are 2-2 and within a few points of being 3-1 (they dropped a two-point decision to South Hagerstown to start the season).
Second-year coach Jeff Cook still has some work ahead of him if he wants to build a strong program in Uniontown -- the 1980s were not kind to Key boys basketball -- but he seems to be on the right path.