The 1991-1992 wrestling season in Carroll County starts like none inthe past six years.
The most notable difference is the county teams' relatively equal footing.
A quick glance of the county shows parity in all five teams, something that hasn't been seen for some time.
North Carroll, the giant in Carroll County wresting and ranked No. 3 by the Maryland State Wrestling Association, graduated 10 of its 13 varsity wrestlers.
The loss of that many seniors would be devastating to most teams. But the Panthers' strong feeder system -- an outstanding junior varsity program and the Manchester Wrestling youth team -- will keep the team competitive.
While maybe not as strong as it was last year, the Panthers are still a force to be reckoned with.
Here is how the county teams are shaping up.
FRANCIS SCOTT KEY EAGLES
Francis Scott Keyreturns nine letter-winners from last year's team and had an excellent turnout for tryouts.
"We are very competitive," said Coach BillHyson. "In some weight classes, the second- and third-year wrestler is having a tough time getting a spot."
Hyson has such a good turnout for the wrestling team that he has at least four wrestlers vying for starting positions in each weight class.
The chief problem theEagles face is a lack of winning records from last year.
Sophomore Chris Beale is the top returning Eagle. Beale, with a 14-4 record from last year, will come in at 130 pounds.
Norman Jones (171) is the only other Eagle who posted a winning record last season, going 13-12. Joe Leack (140) finished the season at the .500 mark.
All three Eagles who qualified for the state tournament have graduated from last year's 4-8 team.
Most of the positions are undecided, and with only three seniors, a lack of leadership could be a drawback.
Liberty Coach Ed Singer thinks his team has a good chanceto dethrone North Carroll this year.
"We should have a good shot at winning the county title," said Singer. "All things being equal, most of our matches should be closer. I would like to place in the top10 in the state."
Fourth-year coach Singer's optimism is founded on his 10 returning wrestlers from last year's 8-3 team.
"We have a solid lineup and experience down the line," Singer said. "This year, we have good wrestlers at every weight class."
Junior Tom Rheubottom (171), a fourth-place finisher in the regionals, and Shane Harmon (152) return as the top Lion wresters.
Also back are Phil Youssi(135), Steve Speck (135), Bucky Foote (130-135), Dan Evans (140), Mike Durgin (145), Bill Mullon (160), Jason Chapple (160) and Craig Davis (189).
If Liberty plans to unseat North Carroll as county champion, this would be the year to do it.
"I would like to go unbeatenin dual meets, but to be 10-1 is a possibility," Singer said. "I think Tom (Rheubottom) has a good shot at doing real well in the states."
NORTH CARROLL PANTHERS
Coach Dick Bauerlein, starting his 17th year at North Carroll, has some holes to fill, but feels he has the talent to take the county title for the seventh year.
"I think we'llwin the county and Central Maryland Conference," said Bauerlein. "I'm not boasting. We are not going to take it like last year, but we have to be a favored team."
History and a deep lineup are on Bauerlein's side.
Of the three returning Panther wrestlers, Tommy Dell isthe standout. Second last year in the state, Dell (135 pounds) has to be one of the top wrestlers again this year after finishing with a 31-2 record. Dell is ranked No. 1 in the state by MSWA.
Jeremy Myers placed second in the region last year and returns at 103. Myers isthe only other Carroll County wrestler to receive a preseason ranking, placing No. 2 in the MSWA ratings.
Andy Rill (130), who suffered from the flu during the regionals last year and ended his season early, is the third returning North Carroll starter.
The upper weights are the only pieces of the puzzle that have not fallen into place.
Derrick Pozmaniak has the nod at heavyweight; Bobby Scheck was a county junior varsity champ last year and fills in the 112 spot; Scott Dell takes the 119; and Danny Horner is at 140.
SOUTH CARROLL CAVALIERS
South Carroll Coach Peter Olson didn't use the same lineup twice during last year's 5-8 dual-meet season.
He hopes this year won't be a repeat of the injury-riddled lineup of last year.
"With the injures last year, we had a lot of guys wrestling varsity when they shouldn't have," said the 12-year coach. "We have a lot of on-mat experience this year."
The on-mat experience could work for the Cavaliers this year as 10 lettermen return.
Unfortunately, so have the injures. Matt DeMoss (189) broke his hand in the football season but is expected back early in the season.
The starting lineup is notwritten in stone, but most of the positions are accounted for.
Freshman Ryan Pieffer is in at 103, and sophomore Jeff Irvine (112) returns after last year's 22-7 record with 18 pins.