North Carroll athletic director Troy Warehime didn't have to look very far to find the school's newest football coach. Just as far as the Panthers' history books.
Warehime has named Jeff Oeming, who coached the Panthers during the 1986 and 1987 seasons, as the team's coach. He will replace Rob Johnson, who has stepped down after two seasons because of the time demands of his job with the Department of Juvenile Justice.
Oeming, who previously coached Johnson when he was a player, said the former coach has left the program in much better shape than last season's 2-8 record might indicate.
"Robby really had it going in the right direction, so stability is really important," said Oeming, who plans to retain as many of the team's current assistants as possible. "I really believe they were just right around the corner, ready to go this year."
The school's junior varsity and freshman teams each produced winning records last season, and Warehime is optimistic about the program's short-term future.
"I think there's some talent in the younger grades and there's some desire to improve and work in the weight room from the younger kids," said Warehime. " Robbie had things in pretty good shape. It's not like he left the cupboard bare."
Warehime said Oeming, a social studies teacher at Westminster, stuck out from several other job candidates because of his previous experience, which includes nearly two decades as a head or assistant football coach.
After his initial stint at North Carroll (where he was 10-10), Oeming served as the head coach of Westminster from 1988-1993. He then worked as an assistant with the Owls for four seasons before spending the past four years as an assistant under head coach Brian Abbott at private school power Loyola.
"Sometimes you've just got to get out and move around and get a new look and new perspective on things," Oeming said. "Getting exposed to some new ideas and new people gives you the opportunity for a lot of growth."
Oeming, 52, said he hopes to remain with the program for several years.
"We want to make a stable situation so that the community, the school and the players who participate on the team are confident that they're a part of a quality program," he said.
After missing three weeks with mononucleosis, Winters Mill guard Jimmy Dorsey, the county's leading scorer, returned to action Friday night. And although he went scoreless in eight minutes, his mere presence gave an emotional boost to the Falcons, who had dropped their only two games of the season in his absence.
"The kids seem happy to have him back as a teammate, not just for what he brings to the basketball court as far as numbers," said Winters Mill coach Dave Herman, who plans to gradually work Dorsey back into the lineup. "He was really sick ... so it's going to take him a little while. For his own safety and health, we're kind of weaning him back slowly."
The Falcons (14-2 through Monday) went 4-2 in his absence, and with just three weeks left in the regular season are hoping to use his return as a springboard into the upcoming Class 2A playoffs.
Herman said several team members raised their level of play while he was out - most notably 6-foot-5 forward Brett Burrier, who averaged about 20 points and 10 rebounds during the span.
"I think everyone did a little bit extra," Herman said. "Now that he's back, I think that what they did in the time he was gone will help us in the long run."
Herman is hoping to have Dorsey back to full speed within a couple of weeks.
Filling the void
Despite a lineup depleted by injuries, the North Carroll wrestling team last week took a major step toward earning a piece of the county title by defeating South Carroll, 40-27.
The Panthers did it despite missing senior starters Zach Forbes (145 pounds) and Ryan Schroeder (152). Coach Dave Dodson was forced to replace the two with junior varsity wrestlers.
Even though both lost, other team members picked up the slack. That was especially true at 125 and 130 pounds, where Tom Goretsas and Bryan Hoff, respectively, knocked off returning All-County wrestlers Steve Willingham and C.J. Naper by decision.
"The kids stepped up and did the things they needed to do," Dodson said.
The victory was especially big after the Panthers fell to Liberty, 34-30, early last month. North Carroll (10-1, 4-1 county) can now claim a share of the county title with a win on the road tonight against Westminster.
If the Panthers defeat the Owls, and South Carroll tops Francis Scott Key on Friday, then North Carroll, South Carroll and Liberty would share the title with 5-1 county records.
"Our goal is to win the county title every year. When we lost to Liberty, my thought was, `Well, let's at least do what we can to make an effort to share the title,' " Dodson said. "I told the kids that we had to put the Liberty match behind us."
Dodson said he wasn't sure if either Forbes (17-7) or Schroeder (17-5) would be available for tonight's match.