After a full weekend of high school sports, it's quite evident how competitive our county is and how good the coaching is.
In wrestling, Broadneck stunned two-time defending state champion and top-rankedOld Mill, 31-28.
In boys basketball, two teams -- Meade and Southern -- humbled weeks ago by Annapolis and Northeast respectively, bounced back to nearly pull off upsets of those same foes. And Old Mill's boys came out of nowhere to add Broadneck to its list of "big three" victims.
On the girls' side, Northeast shook off a two-point Jan. 4 overtime lossto Southern to come back and blow out the latter on its home court by 26 points Friday night. Add Arundel's surprising girls team of Lee Rogers to the list after their 54-50 upset of Severna Park on Friday night, and you can see what I'm talking about.
You could call it a"year of surprises," but at the same time give credit to the coacheswho teach the kids how to get up off the deck and go at it again.
I don't know if Paul Rusko, the county coordinator of physical education, took lessons from Pete Rozelle, the former NFL commissioner, but he has established the same kind of parity in his program that Petedid.
Think about it. Is there an obvious choice now for the county's best wrestling team after what Broadneck did to Old Mill Friday night?
Does anyone know for certain who will win Class 4A Region IVboys basketball crown: Old Mill, Annapolis, Meade or Broadneck?
Or how about the girls 4A Region IV? Old Mill looks like the team, butwho's going to count out North County, Severna Park and Broadneck, not to mention the charging Arundel Wildcats?
Will Northeast be able to beat Southern a third time if they meet in the boys Class 2A Region III playoffs?
Who will win the third meeting between the Northeast and Southern girls in the same 2A Region III playoffs?
If you're like me, you really can't answer any of those questions without reasonable doubt.
Let's take the mat scene first, where Broadneck has upset the apple cart.
All the so-called experts had Old Mill (7-1) ranked No. 1 in the state, and the highest Broadneck (8-0) had been was No. 7. There should be a big difference between the two.
What appears to be a shocker really is not. Had Broadneck been ranked in the top three, a Bruins' victory would not have been a surprise.
So much for the rankings; Broadneck proved it was better than Old Mill on this night by dealing the state champs their first dual match loss in the last 34. Old Mill had not lost since February 1988, but Broadneck was as prepared as a team could be.
And that is a salute to head coach John Mayberry for getting his troops to believe they could knock the king off the throne. That's not to say that Old Mill's coach Mike Hampe, who is arguably the best in the state, didn't have his Patriots ready. Hampe-coached teams are always ready, but Broadneck was three points better Friday night.
Moving to boys hoops, it'sreally not that surprising at what Meade and Southern did, when you consider the coaches, two crafty old veterans -- each with 300-plus career wins -- who are the deans of county basketball coaches. Meade'sButch Young is now in his 27th season, and Southern's Tom Albright is in his 26th campaign.
Young's Mustangs had opened the season at Annapolis by getting hammered, 96-59. Young promised that night his guys would get better, and it would be different next time.
After picking up the pieces, in the very next game Meade outlasted Broadneck, 45-42, and took an 11-3 record into Friday's game with Annapolis. The latter won again, but not by 37 points. Annapolis held on for a 62-58 victory. Meade has gone from the basement to the top floor and isright in the thick of things once again in 4A Region IV.
The Annapolis-at-Meade game was a tribute to the coaching of two great ones, Young and John Brady. Young brought his guys back from the dead, but Brady guided his Panthers to what was a "must" win. The defending State 4A champions (12-2) had lost two of their last three and had to keep pace with streaking Old Mill (11-3). They did.
Southern was annihilated by Northeast, 86-52, back on Jan. 4 in Pasadena, but Albright wasn't about to plant the white flags in Harwood. Instead, the feisty mentor worked his 'Dawgs diligently to get ready for the next Northeast meeting.
It came Friday night, as Northeast (10-3) invaded Southern (10-4), and the home team almost pulled it off before bowing,72-71. Most of us didn't believe that as good as Northeast is, it was 34 points better than Southern, and Albright sure didn't.
Here again, credit coaching when a team can make up that big of a difference. At the same time, Northeast was sweeping Southern in the regular season for the first time since 1984-85, a credit to Eagles' coach Johnny Barbour.
If there is a surprise, however, it has to be Old Mill and the great coaching job by Paul Bunting. Nobody expected Old Mill to be where they are, not even Bunting.