South Carroll celebrates a decade of titles Through unbeaten runs, upsets and close calls, Cavaliers' tradition builds

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March 20, 1997|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The front of the white T-shirt proudly states: "A Decade of Excellence."' The words are etched in South Carroll's familiar black and gold colors.

On the back is a list of the 10 consecutive years the Cavaliers have won county championships.

"Ten years is special and something our guys can be proud of. It's not an 'in-your-face' thing to anyone else. We're proud of the competition we see in the county and proud of the accomplishment," said South Carroll coach Jeff Alisauckas, who's quick to credit former coach Gene Brown for founding the rich tradition.

The run started in dominating fashion in 1987 under Brown, who finished with a 139-56 mark and 10 county titles in his 15 seasons.

The Cavaliers went 6-0 in county play that season and matched the feat the next three years, winning 28 straight county games before Liberty handed them their only county loss, 8-2, during the 1991 season.

"When Liberty beat us, you would have thought they won the Super Bowl. They were all going nuts," said Brown.

After two more 6-0 county seasons, Brown stepped down to concentrate on the head football coaching job he got the year before at South Carroll.

zTC "Our kids just felt we would win. It wasn't anything special we did. Westminster would give us some good games, and Liberty was always tough, but we just seemed to have that edge," he said.

What exactly has been that edge?

Finding out what has separated the Cavaliers from the other county teams -- Westminster and North Carroll, along with Liberty -- has been a tough question.

"I really don't know," said Liberty coach Troy Barnes. "Westminster has been in their hip pocket a couple of times, and we've been in their hip pocket, but they always seem to find a way to win."

Which brings us to the 1994 regular-season finale.

The Cavaliers, with Alisauckas in his first season, lost their county opener to Westminster, but it was Liberty which was threatening to end the run. Both teams came into the game with 4-1 county marks, and it was the Lions who had a seemingly invincible 11-9 lead in the final minute.

Midfielder Dan Hughes scored with 24 seconds left to pull the Cavaliers within one, and Adam Whittington tied it with two seconds left. Tom Luster scored the overtime goal that gave the Cavaliers an improbable 12-11 escape.

The Cavaliers haven't lost in the county since the Westminster defeat in Alisauckas' county debut four years ago. Last season, Liberty came close twice -- losing two one-goal games -- %J including a 7-6 setback in the region playoffs.

"They've had athletes, and Gene Brown and Jeff Alisauckas have always gotten a lot out of them," Barnes said. "They also always seem to get the important goal in transition late, or the big goalie save when they need it most. Put all those factors together, and maybe you have it."

"They've always had good athletes. Gene Brown established a very good program, and once you get tradition moving like that, things get a lot easier," said Westminster 16-year coach Jim Peters, whose Owls were the last team to win a county title other than South Carroll.

The Cavaliers continually reload, instead of rebuilding.

Two years ago, Luster was the Carroll Player of the Year with 39 goals and 23 assists, and teammate John Eaton set a new school mark for assists with 41. Last spring, senior Rob Witte scored 61 goals, and Shawn Waters broke Eaton's assist mark with 50.

"I ask the fellows every time they walk off the field to ask themselves if they are better today than the day before. We strive for little steps every day, and, hopefully, by the end of the season, we're where we want to be," said Alisauckas. "Coach Brown started the whole tradition, and I'm just grateful to have the chance to keep the tradition and pride alive.

"The kids come in with the goal to win the county championship. It's something we shoot for, and we've been fortunate to pull it out."

Pub Date: 3/20/97

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