Time to clean out the notebook from a glorious fall season for Carroll high school sports teams.
The three state title trophies luggedhome by county teams in the recently completed season was one of thestate's best showings.
Howard County -- with eight schools, the state's official fall sports powerhouse -- copped eight titles, winning at least one in everyfall sport but field hockey and golf. Howard County's Centennial High won three state titles alone.
Two other counties -- Montgomery and Frederick -- each won four state titles. Montgomery County has 21 schools and Frederick has seven.
In terms of state titles, Carrollwas fourth best in the state. Carroll brought home more hardware forthe trophy case than larger school systems such as Anne Arundel (twotitles), Baltimore, Prince George's and Harford counties (one each).
If a few runners from Francis Scott Key hadn't been disqualified on a questionable decision in the state Class 1A cross country championships, we'd be on par with Frederick and Montgomery.
Why the success at the state level for a county with five schools?
Perhaps tops on the list is the favorable placement of at least one county team in each of the four classifications. That gives us more title opportunities.
Second is a somewhat easier regional alignment this year. In general, county teams no longer are grouped with the powerful Howard teams, giving more Carroll squads a chance toreach the state tournament.
Third, of course, is the quality of our so-called minor sports. Whatever shortcomings we may have in football and basketball, Carroll has done well in many other sports over the years, especially in the fall.
In the 16-year history of the state field hockey tournament, Carroll has won 15 titles, including South Carroll's 3A
crown and Westminster's 4A title this fall.
Carroll has earned five girls titles and five boys crowns in the last 10cross country seasons, and teams have finished second eight other times.
And though we're in a bit of a drought, Carroll has won five state volleyball titles since the tournament started in 1975.
The state titles don't tell the whole story of Carroll's fall season.
The teams that didn't quite make it were just as important to the outstanding fall record as those that did.
There were the Key field hockey and boys soccer teams, recovering from poor early season showings to make the playoffs. The hockey team got as far as the statesemifinals, and the boys soccer team lost in the first round of the regionals -- to the eventual state champs, Wilde Lake of Howard County.
Liberty's field hockey team lost in the region finals, but alsoto an eventual state champ, Middletown of Frederick County. Ditto for North Carroll's girls soccer team, ousted in the state semifinals by eventual champ Hammond.
Liberty's volleyball team reached the state finals before falling to Mount Hebron of Howard County in the title game.
Eight of our 10 cross country teams qualified for the state meet, and all finished in the top 10 in their respective classes.
Liberty made the best showing of a county boys soccer team since 1986, reaching the state semifinals. North Carroll's boys reached the region finals against Liberty with a stunning upset of previously unbeaten Middletown in the region semifinals.
Westminster's golf teamwas 10th in the state.
Truly an outstanding fall.
County teams also dominated the Central Maryland Conference.
They swept the first four places in the final field hockey standings and the top three places in boys soccer while earning the second through fifth spots in girls soccer.
A word or two is in order for a couple of soccer teams that didn't make the state playoffs.
Westminster's boys had the third-best record in school history (8-3-1), finished second in the county and third in the CMC, but didn't make the playoffs. In recent years, the Owls had reached the playoffs with records of 7-5, 6-6 and 5-7.
The Westminster girls won the county and were third in the CMC, but still failed to earn a berth with a 7-5 record. One of those losses was a 1-0 verdict to state champion Centennial.
The Owls soccer players, like the Key cross country team, learned life isn't always fair.