River Hill vs. Aberdeen

Raamah Vaughn of River Hill, left, sprints past Aberdeen defenders on his way to a touchdown in the first half. (Brian Krista, Patuxent Publishing / November 25, 2011)

I was having dinner with friends on the same night that Atholton was playing River Hill for the Class 3A East Region football title. The feeling across the table was that Atholton had beaten River Hill during the regular season, had a terrific defense and should win again.

I was a bit more apprehensive. I know that meeting a team for the second time, particularly when it's the Hawks, does not mean that the second game is going to be as easy a the first one appeared to be.

Well, we now know that Atholton lost, 21-12, that night and River Hill has crushed Aberdeen, 41-7, in the state semifinals. The Hawks will face Thomas Johnson this Saturday at 7 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium.

It wasn't that long ago when River Hill dropped back-to-back games (Atholton and Hammond) and looked vulnerable. Now the Hawks are on a nine-game win streak and will settle for nothing less than a third state championship.


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Unfortunately, good grades are secondary

I have always been a proponent of academics over athletics and that is why I have some trouble coming to grips with the cuts that the University of Maryland and other colleges are considering. (See last week's column about Maryland's plans to drop eight non-revenue teams.)

If you compare the grade-point averages for the members of the programs that are under the knife with those of football and basketball players, you will probably discover that the schools don't really care about grades and graduation rates. The bottom line is revenue.

College sports have become a conundrum. Schools need talented football and basketball players to produce winning teams, thereby filling stadium seats and bringing in revenue, but often those players aren't at college for the education. Instead it's used as a stopover to hone their skills for the professional ranks.

And until Maryland starts bringing in top football and basketball players, those teams will be playing to empty seats and reduced revenue. So because of the school's failure to attract the best athletes, and because fans don't want to attend games with less than the best athletes providing poor seasons, non-revenue producing programs, whose athletes are generally in school for the education, have to walk the plank. So good grades become secondary. Sad indeed.

The nominations are open

The Howard County Community Sports Hall of Fame is soliciting recommendations from the general public for individuals, living or deceased, who are making or have made a substantial contribution to community recreational sports programs in the county. The Hall of Fame was established in 2005 and is a part of the county's annual Celebration of Sports.

The selection committee is aware that there are individuals within our community who have worked for years in recreational sports with little or no recognition, and they should be recognized for their efforts.

Nomination forms are available from the Department of Recreation and Parks or online at http://www.hcrpsports.com.

Castleton State has a keeper

Katharyn Dembowski was recently named ECAC Women's East Ice Hockey Goalie of the Week for the second time this season. The Long Reach graduate plays for Castleton State College in Vermont where she is a junior. Katharyn was honored Nov. 7, when she turned back 49 shots in a 4-0 loss and 30 in a 1-0 Spartans' victory. She made 43 saves over two games when she was honored Nov. 21.

On the season, Katharyn has allowed only 13 goals while making 184 saves which translates into an impressive 93.4 save percentage.