Family values aren't lost on Franklin wrestling coach Scott Delpo. In fact, two families, the Schusters and the Mays, have been invaluable to his teams.
Steve Mays Jr., 17, graduated last year, but John Schuster III, a 189-pound senior, leads not only his own siblings up from Reisterstown's recreation program, but more Mays boys, as well.
Matt Schuster is a freshman 103-pounder. Andy Schuster is a sophomore at 171. The Mays boys are twins, Luke and Sam, sophomores wrestling at 140 and 145, respectively.
Together, those five wrestlers are a major reason Franklin is ranked No. 9 in metro Baltimore. The Indians' 7-1 record includes wins over Owings Mills, winner of last season's county and regional dual-meet titles, and Overlea, winner of last season's county and regional tournament crowns.
Franklin is 6-0 in its eight-team Division II, having all but clinched that title with only a Jan. 28 match left against Pikesville.
"I didn't realize the gold mine I was stepping into when I came here," said Delpo, in his fourth season at Franklin after three seasons at Baltimore's Patterson.
"Steve Mays and John Schuster, they're tough kids, pretty good wrestlers," Delpo said. "But they kept talking about their younger brothers and how good this team was going to be when they got here. They were right."
The tradition started with John Schuster Jr., a 1971 Franklin graduate, and Steve Mays Sr., who graduated from Franklin in 1974.
John Schuster Jr. coached the brothers over most of their careers in Reisterstown's recreation program as an assistant to Dave Trudil and George Outten, whose son, Drew Outten, is 4-1 as Franklin's 119-pounder.
"Every match, it's a great feeling, watching the boys from both families go out and wrestle," said John Schuster Jr.
"We vacation with the Mayses, so the boys know each other well, and this is something that the boys, the families have talked about and looked forward to for a long time," he said. "It's very special to them, to everyone."
But the presence of so many brothers in the lineup often leads to bittersweet moments.
Luke Mays won the season-opening Meade Tournament, for example, but only after watching Sam Mays lose by a default, a shoulder injury forcing him from the tournament.
And in a victory over Owings Mills, that school's first loss against Baltimore County competition since 1992, Matt and John Schuster, as well as the Mays twins, were victorious.
But their celebration was tempered by the fact that Andy Schuster lost. A former junior league third-place finisher, Andy is 1-3 and still is recovering from a knee injury suffered during soccer season.
"It's not always a happy household all the way around," said the 189-pound John Schuster. "It's tough when one of us loses, but I picture myself as the leader. There's pressure sometimes to win, but it's more important to keep everyone motivated and focused."
With a 14-0 record, Luke Mays is ranked No. 6 at 140 pounds by the Maryland State Wrestling Association. Stan Wagner -- whose father, George, is Delpo's assistant -- ranks fourth at 112 pounds with a 13-1 record.
They are Franklin's only ranked wrestlers, but that could change.
Sam Mays and John Schuster have identical 5-1 records. Sam lost a decision to one of the two best wrestlers from Pennsylvania's Notre Dame Prep. John dropped a 4-2 decision to Overlea's fourth-ranked Justin Mitchell.
Matt is 12-2, his losses being against top-ranked Luke Palumbo, of Annapolis Area Christian, and up at 112 pounds against Gaithersburg's Mark Anderson, last year's Montgomery County runner-up.
Matt and Sam, the Indians' two newest members, each were junior league champs last season. Meanwhile, Luke, the younger twin by 17 minutes, took a stab at varsity wrestling and wound up second at counties and third at regions.
"I was second in junior leagues -- didn't do as well as Sam," Luke said. "But I felt I was ready for high school."
Matt Schuster and the twins said they were all approached by area private schools, but none came close to breaking tradition.
"My dad didn't force me to come here," Sam Mays said. "I didn't think real seriously about other schools, because I knew I would come here."
And the tradition is likely to continue for a long while.
There are three more Schuster boys: James, 12, Luke, 11, and, Thomas, 6. And the Mays family has four more: Hank, 11, Gus, 8, Jake, 5, and Eli, 3.
Pub Date: 1/22/99