The state's four Division I football teams are a combined 1-20, but the situation is much brighter in Division III.
Salisbury State (1-4) is still rebuilding under second-year coach Joe Rotellini, but Frostburg State (4-1), Western Maryland (4-1) and Johns Hopkins (3-1-1) are all just a break or two away from being unbeaten. Either Frostburg State or Western Maryland, both losers in their openers, could reach postseason play.
In this season's NCAA South Region rankings, Frostburg State shares sixth place. Four teams from the region will be selected to go to the 16-team NCAA tournament, and while an independent usually needs to go unbeaten to make the field, the Bobcats do have a reputation, since they earned a consolation prize last year: a berth in the ECAC South championship game.
"Considering we lost our first game, we're in the best possible position we could be in," said Frostburg State coach Dennis Riccio, whose team is host to Mercyhurst Saturday. "If we want to go to the NCAAs, we have to keep winning impressively and get some help. We're looking at the Western Maryland at Dickinson game this weekend."
Dickinson (4-0), No. 4 in the South, is the lone Centennial Football Conference team with a perfect record. Its only regular-season loss since 1988 occurred in Westminster last season, and it probably kept the Red Devils out of the postseason. They have been waiting a year for paybacks.
"I know they went out of here fried last year, and we heard a lot of talk from Dickinson during the offseason," Western Maryland coach Dale Sprague said. "They've got a veteran team, we're young, and we're also beat up. I know it's a big game for Dickinson, but it's also the biggest we've played around here in a while."
The Green Terrors lead the CFC with a 3-0 mark, while Dickinson is 2-0. Western Maryland has won four straight, its longest streak since a seven-gamer that finished 1979 and began 1980. On the Eric Frees watch, the senior tailback has 725 yards this season, 4,461 for his career. He's 173 yards away from becoming the all-time rushing leader in the CFC.
Hopkins, one of the three 2-1 teams in the CFC, plays at Dickinson Nov. 2. It will also have a very big say in Western Maryland's plans, since the Blue Jays play in Westminster Nov. 16.
* Morgan State lined up a Division II opponent for homecoming Saturday (2 p.m.) at Hughes Stadium, but it's not exactly as if the Golden Bears (0-6) will be stepping down in class. Before Virginia Union (5-1) was upset by Elizabeth City State last Saturday, the Panthers climbed to No. 4 in the NCAA Division II rankings.
It's also homecoming week at Frostburg State and Salisbury State, and hall of fame ceremonies begin the celebration tomorrow.
Salisbury State's newest group includes baseball and soccer standout Phil Briggs (class of 1969); field hockey and lacrosse star Debbie Bloodsworth ('76); football record-holder Melvin Levi Shade ('77); tennis ace Sue Foelber-Woods ('80); and football and wrestling coach Mike McGlinchey.
Foelber-Woods went to Dulaney High. Bloodsworth teaches and coaches at Roland Park Country School, and McGlinchey, who took the football team to the NCAA final in 1986, is now at Central Connecticut.
Frostburg State will honor football wide receiver Bill Bagley ('86); swimmer Bill Croft ('86) and soccer and lacrosse standout Richard "Shady" Lane ('73).
* Johns Hopkins and UMBC are part of the six-team field competing Sunday in Princeton's first fall lacrosse tournament. Virginia, Massachusetts and Adelphi will also participate in a round-robin format that begins at noon.
Hopkins and Maryland will be in a similar event Oct. 27 at Penn's Franklin Field, site of the 1992 NCAA Final Four.
* Morgan State will host the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference cross country championships Nov. 1 at Oregon Ridge Park . . . 1992 will be Navy's last season in the Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League. The Middies will strengthen the academy's ties to the Patriot League after that . . . Kevin Fillman, the new sports information director at Goucher College, is a 1-handicap golfer who helped Ohio Wesleyan to NCAA honors.