Despite losing four All-County players, it's no surprise to Century girls soccer coach Sara Figuly that her team is off to another fast start.
"This year, they have just worked so much harder than they have in the past," she said.
The work is paying off.
The Knights, 6-1 going into Tuesday's game at Westminster, have used their talented junior varsity to quickly reload. And while it might be too early to evoke comparisons to Century's squad that won state titles in 2002 and 2003, these Knights seem determined to make a name for themselves.
Take last week. After their first loss of the season to Urbana, the Knights regrouped to pull out a 1-0 win over South Carroll, which had been the only other unbeaten team against Carroll County competition.
"I haven't seen them play that well all year," Figuly said. "They really came together."
The team is led by sophomore midfielder Katie Schwarzmann, who has received key offensive support from Lauren Resutek and Jennah Kilroy. Megan Garber has recorded three shutouts in goal and had eight saves against the Cavaliers to preserve the victory.
No uphill battle
To South Carroll coach Rob Pennington, the vaunted reputation of the cross country course at Hereford is all hype.
"When you train on what we have at our place every day, going to Hereford is nothing," Pennington said. "I've got a hill in the woods that makes Hereford look like a bump."
The Cavaliers proved their coach's point by sweeping the Small Schools Division of last week's Bull Run Invitational.
South Carroll's boys team, led by C.J. Naper (fifth place), Doug Findeisen (10th) and Jake Zamostny (13th), finished with 93 points to hold off Gilman (108) and 24 other teams.
It was an impressive performance for a team that has finished last in Carroll County each of the past two years.
"My guys have rallied around, `OK, you're not going to laugh at us anymore,'" Pennington said.
On the girls side, South Carroll got top performances from Rachel Sykes (fifth), Emily Powell (seventh), Catherine Robinson (11th) and Anna Weaver (13th), as the Cavaliers easily beat out a Winters Mill team led by ninth-place Kristen O'Brien.
The race was a redemption of sorts for the Cavaliers, who had lost to Winters Mill and Westminster in a tri-meet that Pennington had used as a warm-up for the Bull Run earlier in the week.
Miller earns honor
Defensive end Kyle Miller, who played a key role in North Carroll's 42-28 win over Tuscarora on Sept. 29, has been named the Monocacy Valley Athletic League's Chesapeake Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
Miller, a senior, finished with five solo and four assisted tackles. His biggest play came with less than a minute left in the first half.
With Tuscarora driving, Miller scooped up a fumble by the quarterback and ran it back 85 yards for a touchdown. Instead of Tuscarora possibly cutting the lead to 20-14, the play extended the Panthers' lead to 28-7, and all but put the game out of reach.
"It was huge," Panthers coach Jeff Oeming said. "We had jumped out to an early lead. ... Then they started to get their ground game going. We were just thinking in terms of getting into the locker room at 20-7 or 20-10."
Oeming, who works with the team's defensive line, applauded Miller's decision to scoop up the ball, rather than falling on it. "From the very first day, I said, `We're playmakers. We're not block-takers,' " Oeming said.
To submit news and story ideas about Carroll County high school athletics, contact Rich Scherr at CarrollSports@comcast.net.