UNION BRIDGE -- Last night was essentially billed as a coming-out party for a youthful No. 10 Francis Scott Key wrestling team, which played host to defending Carroll County champion and No. 3 North Carroll.
North Carroll was still smarting from two seasons back, when the Eagles ended the Panthers' 48-match winning streak, 33-22, to win the dual-meet title. But this season's Eagles (8-1-1, 3-1), who comprise four freshmen, a sophomore, six juniors and just two seniors, lost, 50-15, to North Carroll (11-1, 4-0).
In a gymnasium packed with screaming fans, North Carroll turned a 9-8 deficit after the first four bouts, into a 32-9 lead by sweeping the next five.
Andy Rill (130, 18-1) overcame a 4-0 first-period deficit for a 6-5 win over Eagles freshman Zac Yinger (14-3); third-ranked Tommy Dell (135, 14 pins) and Dan Horner (140, eight) each improved to 17-1 with pins; sophomore Saidrick Lewis (145, 12-6) won a decision; and Ron Miller (152, 15-4) recorded his ninth fall.
Francis Scott Key trailed, 32-15, after junior Ed Null (160, 18-2-1) overcame a 5-0 lead with his second-period pin of North Carroll's Shawn Utz, but the Panthers' Chris Boog (171, 15-5) put the match out of reach, 38-15, with his 11th pin.
For the winning margin, the Panthers' Jim Leete (189, 11-6) recorded his seventh pin, and his 6-foot-7 heavyweight teammate Derrick Poznaniak (12-2) recorded his eighth pin over 275-pound Mark Smith.
"We were really up for this match. On the way up here on the bus, you could hear a pin drop," said 17th-year North Carroll coach Dick Bauerlein, who won his 202nd career dual meet as the Panthers captured the regular-season title.
In the early bouts, the Panthers' fifth-ranked sophomore Jeremy Myers (103, 17-1) picked up his 14th pin in the first period and Eagles freshman Steve Lassard (112, 15-5) grabbed an 8-4 decision.
The 119-pound bout offered a rematch between North Carroll junior Andy Kiler (14-3-2) and freshman Randy Owings (18-3-1), who went 2-2 against each other as junior league wrestlers. This one ended in a scoreless tie, and the Eagles' Chris Beale (125, 16-3) won a major decision.
"We made a couple of mistakes tonight, but overall, we wrestled pretty well," said Bauerlein, whose Panthers go after their seventh straight county tournament title this weekend at Liberty. "It was great to be a part of this crowd."