The winter winds and snow are near, and that's just fine with the students at Francis Scott Key.
This is the only time the smallest school in the county gets a chance to push around the two biggest schools, Westminster and South Carroll, in an important sporting event.
Wrestling is the name of the game at Key, and the boys from the country get a kick out of throwing their weight around against the Owls and Cavaliers.
Throughout the fall season, the 1A Eagles hear every day how they are outclassed by 4A Westminster and 3A South Carroll in virtually all six fall sports. Now it's time for Key to crow a little.
The Eagles are talking about a possible first-place finish in wrestling in Carroll County this season.
"North Carroll is the team to beat, but we should be right there," said Key coach Bill Hyson, who begins his 14th season at the Uniontown school. "We have all eight wrestlers back who qualified for the states last year. And we have an outstanding freshman, Jason Hooper, coming in from the Junior Eagles wrestling program. He'll go at 103 pounds."
Westminster, South Carroll and Liberty all lost to Key on the mat last year, and the same is expected to happen this season. That leaves defending county champion North Carroll once again standing in the way of a county title for Key.
Leading the Key charge this season will be senior Ed Null (160 pounds) and sophomore Randy Owings (130). Null, who was 26-5-1 last season, advanced to the state 2A-1A semifinals before losing to North Harford's Mark Perry.
Null pinned North Hagerstown's Ali Robinson in four minutes and 15 seconds in the regionals last season after losing an 11-7 decision to Robinson earlier in the regionals.
Owings, as a freshman last season, finished third in the prestigious Annapolis tournament and wrestled North Carroll's talented Andy Kiler to a scoreless tie in the county tournament.
Owings was awarded a victory over Kiler on criteria. Owings missed the state tournament because of an infection.
Junior Chris Beale (135) and sophomore Zack Yinger (140) are considered the other top Key wrestlers. The rest of the returnees who qualified for the states last season are sophomore Steve Lessard (119), senior Josh Bonnette (145), senior Jamie DeGraft (152), senior Dale Bloom (189) and senior Mark Smith (heavyweight).