Of unpredictable incidents and a hopefule event

November 09, 2003|by MARK KELLER

When the fall sports season began for area high schools back in late August, there were some things that you could count on to happen as the year progressed.

For instance, there was little doubt that the Martinsburg football team would be the top team in the area.

But who could have known that North Hagerstown, which spent so many seasons near the back of the pack, would be the second best team in the area and would match Martinsburg's 10-0 regular-season record?

Who could have known that perennial football power Middletown would need to win five of its last six games just to get to the .500 mark?

Who could have known that Washington County, which had only sent two football teams to the playoffs in the last eight years, would get three teams in the postseason in the first year Maryland expanded the playoffs?


Who could have known that Waynesboro's Kevin Reiber would rally from a five-stroke deficit after the first day and win the PIAA state golf championship?

Who could have known that Williamsport's girls cross country team would repeat as state champions with a core of sophomores?

Who could have known that the Smithsburg girls and Williamsport boys soccer teams would both need penalty kicks to win their region titles?

Therein lies the beauty of high school sports. Just when you think you know what's going to happen, you don't.

Unofficially, it was "Retro Night" at School Stadium on Friday.

For the first time in a long time, the crowd at the North-South football game resembled the crowds of yesteryear at the city game.

Most of the administrators and teachers who have been at numerous North-South games said it was, by far, the most people they had seen at the game since the late 1970s or early 80s.

South principal Mike Shockey said it was the second-largest crowd he had ever seen at the stadium, behind only the Smithsburg-Boonsboro state final game in 1994.

Conservative estimates had the attendance figure for the game at 5,000, but nobody immediately had an official number.

South athletic director Mike Tesla would only commit to "a lot" of people in the crowd, but added that he had never put more money in the school's safe after the game.

Now, here's the challenge to North fans, and football fans in general.

The Hubs will play Fort Hill at School Stadium on Friday. Fort Hill is widely known for having the most loyal following of fans around, and you can rest assured that the visitors' side of the stadium will be filled with red-clad fans for that game.

A poor showing from city fans will have the Hubs feeling like they're playing on the road. (Actually, they are, but that's a topic for another day).

Washington County football has been overlooked (actually, looked down upon is more accurate) by the rest of the state of Maryland for a long time. Teams began to creep out of the shadows with playoff wins the last two years - Boonsboro in 2001 and South last year.

This year, with North, Smithsburg and Hancock all in the playoff mix, county football fans finally have something to shout about.

Now, they have to get out to the games and actually shout about it, just like they did at School Stadium on Friday.

Mark Keller is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2332, or by e-mail at

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