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SCHOOL DELAYS
News Maryland Harford County Bel Air

Shocks, thrills and chills from the 2013 sports seasons [Commentary]

Unlike previous sports seasons, I did not start off the fall 2013 cycle of Harford County high school athletics with a wish list and a set of predictions that I could rehash later on to show everyone how smart, or dumb, I am.

I'm not sure how, or why, I forgot to do that back in August because I enjoy being right and making fun of myself in equal measures, it's a great setup for a good column.

In the absence of a concrete list and since I'm not going to fib and say I scribbled something down on sheet of paper three months ago, I'll just go through and tell you what fall 2013 sporting occurrences shocked me and those that I saw coming (don't count on much of the latter).

As I was not on the field hockey beat for the 2012 campaign, which marked the first season I haven't covered that sport since I began my tenure at The Aegis in 2007, I was not entirely sure what to expect this year when I returned to the beat.

Fallston, winner of four state crowns during the first five earlier seasons I was writing about field hockey and two-time reigning 1A champ, had 11-time Maryland champ Alice Puckett back at the helm. I, wholly unaccustomed to Fallston not making it at least to the state semifinals, and I figured the Cougars would be back at it again. It turns out, they had a relatively down year, which happens to every program, and ended up bowing out in the regional quarterfinal to Patterson Mill (more on that team in a second).

I knew both the Patterson Mill and C. Milton Wright field hockey teams were good, but, for reasons that go way back, I didn't expect them to be playing for state titles on the same day at the end of the season. That mostly has to do with CMW and its streak of tough luck in the post-season. Because no high school sport with the exception football is very well documented, I'm going on memory, but CMW lost two straight regional title games by one goal back when I first started and then suffered the same fate last season, when I wasn't covering field hockey, losing to Hereford, 2-1, in the 3A North final. This season, however, the Mustangs were able to shake the monkey if their backs, and prove me wrong, by beating Mt. Hebron, 3-2, in the 3A final.

Patterson Mill, on the other hand, had been to the state title game before, and the Huskies made it back this year. As I wrote a few weeks ago, after seeing the state semifinal games in which CMW and Patterson Mill dominated, I was sure there were going to be two Harford County teams hoisting championship trophies. I was wrong, as Patterson Mill lost to North Carroll, 3-2, in the 1A final, but I still think the Huskies should have won that game.

With boys soccer, I was hoping a local team would break the state championship drought, but that didn't come to pass (I just wrote a column about what happened in the Fallston vs. Hereford 2A state title game, so I won't delve back into that subject). What I didn't predict happening was three teams, Fallston, C. Milton Wright and Havre de Grace, winning regional titles. Having two teams from the same sport get to the state semifinals is always impressive, but three, at least to me, was unprecedented.

I figured Perryville football was going to have a tough time playing in the Chesapeake Division, and the Panthers did, at one point losing four straight games, but I also thought they would get back to the state tournament. Cambridge-South Dorchester squashed that prediction last Friday, beating the Panthers, 42-0, in the 1A East final.

I'd like to say I foresaw Fallston football putting together a magnificent 10-0 regular-season record, but nobody can predict those sorts of things. Here's a fun note: The Cougars beat two quality teams by the same score this season, topping both Aberdeen and North Harford, 19-14.

That's it for fall sports, folks. We're heading indoors now, and I'm on vacation for the next two weeks. See you when I get back.

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