The T-shirts worn by Oakland Mills fans said it all.
"SCORPION STRONG," the fronts blared in huge orange block letters. "GO HEAVY. PAYTHE PRICE," was the message on back.
Oakland Mills' Scorpions were strong, and they made opponents paythe price at the 23rd annual Class 2A-1A Region III Wrestling Tournament at Hammond High last weekend.
The wrestling team that rivals love to hate carted home the team championship hardware. Scorpions also won four of 13 individual titles.
The team score wasn't close. Oakland Mills trounced runner-up Hammond, 136-106.
The title was special for Scorpions coach Dan Ricker because it was his first in four years as head coach. And edging Hammond was particularly sweet.
Oakland Mills had suffered a bitter defeat to the Bears on Jan. 21, when they lost their first county dual meet in Ricker's four years. But a week ago the Scorpions stung back, topping Hammond in the county championship tournament.
Tensions between the teams were running high for the regional tournament.
Hammond fans treated every Scorpion champion to a chorus of boos and jeers during their matches and award presentations.
The 125-pound championship bout summed up the tournament's competitive spirit. Oakland Mills' Mike Maughan and Hammond's Erin Woodward had faced each other twice in recent weeks, each winning a match. Woodward pinned Maughan in 55 seconds during the dualmeet in January. But Maughan evened the score in the county tournament with a 6-5 victory over Woodward.
Maughan, seeded only seventh,beat two tough opponents to reach the regional finals.
"I thoughtthere might be a brawl during our match tonight," Maughan said later. "Fans were booing, yelling and screaming so loudly."
In the first period, Woodward fell on Maughan and went up 4-1. Maughan rallied with a takedown and brought the score to 4-4. In the second period, heoutscored Woodward to go up 7-5, with Woodward just missing a takedown. And in the third period, after Woodward nearly pinned Maughan andwith 31 seconds to go in the match, Maughan scored a take down. Woodward shot for a takedown with a few seconds left but couldn't land it, and stomped off the mat in anger, throwing his helmet backward as he left Maughan celebrating a 10-9 victory.
"I'm a senior, so this was my last chance," Maughan said. "He was just a junior. I think seniors have an edge."
Maughan said he was surprised that Oakland Mills won by such a large margin.
"But we got an early 20-point lead and no one could catch us," he said.
In other matches:
* Oakland Mills' Adam Seidman (27-2) scored a takedown with 28 seconds left in the 130-pound bout, nipping Chopticon's Jun Davis, 3-2.
"I kept getting in on him the entire match but couldn't finish it," Seidman said. "He was good, but it shouldn't have been that close."
Hammondfans booed Seidman louder than any other Scorpion. He had beaten Hammond's Chris Mercurio in the county tournament at 135 the week beforein a match that overheated into a brief shoving match.
Seidman dropped to 130 for the regionals, so he didn't face Mercurio again.
* Mercurio won, 4-2, at 135 pounds, scoring a two-point takedown overCentral's Lamont Hagens with 32 seconds left. Mercurio (26-6) led, 2-1, at the time.
* Oakland Mills heavyweight Monte Spencer (25-1),a defending state champion, survived a flu-like illness to beat Southern's Robert Burley, 4-2.
The bout was scoreless after one period. In the second period, Burley escaped to lead briefly, 1-0. But Spencer took him down with two seconds left in that period to go ahead, 2-1.
Thirty seconds into the final period, Spencer went ahead, 4-1.With 41 seconds left, Burley butted him in the head, and Spencer fell to the mat in pain. But he came back and held on to win.
* Nate Casella of Wilde Lake won a thriller at 171 pounds over Poolesville'sAnthony Perez, 6-5. It was 5-5 with 27 seconds left in the match when Casella escaped for the winning point.
Casella's teammates, MikeGreen (160) and Bobby Farace (140) also won titles. Green beat GeoffHenderson of Oakland Mills, 4-1. And Farace beat Hammond's Jerroyd Goode, 7-2. Goode was a 16-9 upset winner over Oakland Mills' Joe Salinas in the quarterfinals.
* Hammond's Pat Brennan was a champion at 189, and Oakland Mills' Marcus Myles won at 145.