There should be no question about North Hagerstown being the best golf team in Washington County — at least on paper — for 2012.
Outside the county, will the Hubs have enough material to carry through the district tournament and into the state tournament with success?
The answer is, ‘Yes.’ But sports require an active element, and golf requires the little white ball to disappear in the cup.
Having missed out on the Maryland Class 3A/4A state tournament last year, the Hubs look to return to College Park this season, with schools such as Urbana standing in the way.
“It’s a strong statement, but I know we’re prohibitive favorites in the county and conference,” said Hubs coach Joel Rice. “We have our talent. Most everyone has been playing here four years.”
The new season also brings the return of two-time Herald-Mail Washington County Player of the Year Aaron Staley, out for an unprecedented third award. He averaged 38.5 strokes per nine holes in 2011 and is looking to improve on that number.
Key tournament dates within the season for public schools are: Maryland 3A/4A district tournament (Sept. 24); Maryland 1A/2A district tournament (Sept. 18); Washington County tournament (Sept. 27); and MVAL Antietam Conference tournament (Oct. 19).
The youth movement continues for the Warriors and coach Max Shaffer.
In two early matches this year, only one score — freshman Tyler Oelsen’s 49 — has been below 50.
“I’ve got a group that has been working hard and paid their time and debt,” said Shaffer. “We just need them to develop. They’re young but I think they’ll do what it takes.”
Boonsboro has T.J. Shadoan returning along with Sam D’Alauro and Eli Wilhems, but the youth kicks in with sophomore Evan Rosenthal and freshmen Travis Moats and Sydney Alexander.
First-year coach Mark Hartshorn has a mission statement for his youngsters and it is all about growth in the program.
As much as they have tried, the Blazers of the past just haven’t been able to knock down the door of success.
A mix of sophomores and juniors along with some freshmen have Hartshorn looking ahead. Junior Owen Nield has some experience from last year and others playing for the Blazers will include Tim Stoner, Garrett Hull, Joe Alexander and Ethan Moats.
“Our mission is to grow and if I can get them empassioned about the game, winning tournaments will come and they’ll get better,” said Hartshorn. “The kids I have now want to learn.”
Experience is on the Hubs’ side.
Along with Staley, the Hubs return seniors Chad Shindle, Sam Robertson and Nate Parchment and junior Drew Miguel. Shindle was a, All-County first-teamer in 2011.
“Aaron is geared for a good year,” said Rice. “We had a chance at states two years ago, and if we keep the numbers in line this year, we can be there again.
“We’re not forgetting the counties and conference, but our main goal is the district right now.”
Rice has depth and also will look to sophomores Hunter Martin and Kyle Moir for scoring help.
Coach Karl Yergey is counting on seniors to bolster the Saints this season — two of them gained postseason honors in 2011.
Patrick Hart was an All-Independent-Parochial School League player and Ben Holland was an All-Mid-Atlantic Conference player. Yergey said Hart has returned from summer golf in fine form.
Two additional seniors — Max Brady and Breese Dickinson — will play plenty of golf.
“We’ve got tough competition in the MAC and IPSL, and I expect our seniors will contribute in each match this year,” said Yergey. “And as usual, we’ll be playing on tough courses.”
Hart and Holland were the top scorers last year behind Alex Beckel.
The biggest loss for the Leopards is head coach Dan Neff, who was transferred within the county school system.
Tim Small is the new coach, and he’s got one of the best in the county in senior Kyle Huntzberry to lean on toward the success of the program.
A two-year All-County golfer, Huntzberry has challenged for top individual honors in the county and been to the state tournament.
“He’s been a great leader relying on him,” said Small. “As the year goes on and we compete, we’ll get better than the day before.”
Filling out the roster this year will be senior Cody Fairall and sophomores Jordan Tapley and Ryan Milligan.
The Rebels’ golf program has been relatively quiet for years, failing to produce low-scoring numbers.
Like some other county schools, first-year coach Ethan Lester looks to change that outcome beginning this year.
Junior Cody Reeder received All-County honorable mention last year and returns along with juniors Joe Forte and Andrew Snodderly.
“From the first day I talked to them early about taking my coaching,” said Lester. “I’m trying to instill a sense of pride that’s been missing. The juniors have some good qualities.”
St. Maria Goretti
The Gaels will have one of the top individuals in the county this year in sophomore Niklas Steiner, who had a good summer in junior events.
“Nik has been shooting even par and we’re looking for improvement from other players over last year,” said Goretti coach Keith Bell. “We’re going to lean on Nik but I’m positive about this group and I think we can at least finish .500.”
Returning seniors include Mike DiMercurio, Ryan Kinter and Jacob Moats along with Ian Fairley, sophomore Joey Gallow and junior Zach Brode.
The Wildcats could pose a 1A/2A threat by the time districts arrive, and that’s the goal of coach Rod Steiner.
“If we can hold our own and get in shape for the districts, we coould be good,” said Steiner.
His leadership will come from senior Ryan Crabtree, who won player of the year honors this summer in the WACO Juniors and was an All-County first-team selection in 2011.
Williamsport will have Cody Trunkle, a transfer from Hancock, and fellow seniors Devon Blackmon and Ben Seibert. Three juniors — Connor Renn, Austin Paul and Tristan Baker — will be in the mix for playing time.