Westminster hopes strong finish is just a beginning

Owls need three wins for chance at playoff spot

Notebook

October 24, 2002|By Rich Scherr and Jeff Seidel | Rich Scherr and Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Following five straight victories, tomorrow will mark the unofficial start of the second season for the Westminster football team.

The Owls rank eighth in the race for four at-large playoff spots in Class 4A. They must win all three of their remaining games to have a chance at the postseason.

While some coaches may shutter at consecutive matchups against Central Maryland Conference front-runners Linganore, Urbana and South Carroll, it's a challenge Westminster coach Scott Tobias relishes.

"I'm excited for these last three weeks to see how good we really are," said Tobias, adding that several weeks of unheralded competition following losses to Long Reach and Calvert Hall gave his young team a chance to gel. "The way our schedule is set up, we had those two tough games to start the season and I don't think our kids were ready. We had a lot of juniors that had to come up and fill some key spots, and I didn't have them ready to go at that time. Since then, we've really been growing up."

"It's given our kids the time to grow together and gain some confidence."

The Owls have averaged 37 points a game in wins over C. Milton Wright, North Carroll, Liberty, Thomas Johnson and Frederick. That's been a pleasant surprise for Tobias, who came into this season with questions about his rebuilt offensive line.

"We knew we had some skilled positions in [quarterback] Brad Baer and [receiver] Jason Stone, but we weren't sure about how good our offensive line was going to be," Tobias said. "They've really started to come together these past couple weeks."

Among center Jake Zentz, guards Josh Berman and Kye Kable, tackles J.C. Hutchins and Caleb Fattorini and tight end Josh Larrimore, only Hutchins had previous starting experience, getting the nod late last season.

The line has continually opened holes for county rushing leader Brandon Costley, who played on the junior varsity last year, and provided ample protection for Baer, who has again proven his worth as one of the county's most effective quarterbacks.

"We didn't know coming into the season if we'd be able to put a lot of points on the board," Tobias said. "We knew we had some kids who we wanted to touch the ball, but we had an awful lot of question marks."

Now, three of Westminster's toughest games of the season will provide answers to those questions.

"You come down to these three big dogs and you've got to stay focused week in and week out," Tobias said.

The title goes to ...

Even though North Carroll, tied for No. 15 in the poll, and South Carroll finished the regular season in an apparent tie, the Panthers will win the county field hockey title.

North Carroll ended with an 8-0-1 record in county play while South Carroll was 6-0-1. But the extra victories gave the Panthers a higher winning percentage, which is the deciding factor, according to the Carroll County athletic handbook.

"It will go to North Carroll because of the winning percentage rule," said Bruce Cowan, the county's supervisor of physical education and athletics. "This happens all the time. This isn't the only year it's happened."

The fact that the Panthers scheduled more county games isn't any real advantage, Cowan said.

"They could have lost them," Cowan said.

South Carroll won the Central Maryland Conference championship, since both teams were undefeated, but North Carroll had three ties to South Carroll's one.

The two teams could meet again in the Class 3A West regional final. Top-seeded North Carroll opens the regional playoff today by playing host to CMC rival Urbana. No. 2 seed South Carroll plays host to Long Reach at 3:45 p.m.

Hawes, Reedy eye repeat

Century's Rachel Hawes and South Carroll's Dan Reedy will try to repeat as champions when the Carroll County cross country meet takes place today (4 p.m.) at McDaniel College.

Hawes, a sophomore, hasn't lost to a county runner in her two seasons, but was disappointed with her fifth-place finish in last Saturday's Central Maryland Conference meet. She's hoping for better results in the postseason.

"I want to win the states so bad," she said.

He finished fourth in the county meet as a sophomore before winning it last year.

"I would hope to win the [county]," Reedy said. "I want to peak at the right time. I want to go out with a bang."

The Westminster boys and North Carroll girls also look to repeat as team champions.

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