Whenever a Century baseball player hit a home run this season — and those who follow the Knights know it happened a lot — the trot around the bases ended with that player doffing his helmet before tapping it with those of his teammates in celebration.
Zach Raico hit the final homer of the season for Century, which took place Saturday afternoon at Ripken Stadium in the Class 2A state championship game. On the final day of the year for high school sports, the senior’s three-run homer led the Knights to a 4-1 win over La Plata, and the program claimed its first state title.
So if you will, allow me to borrow from Raico here and use the tipping of the helmet display to recognize and honor the county’s other champions and top moments of the year that was 2017-18.
Let’s stay with baseball since it’s the freshest moment of the bunch. There was no denying Century this spring — the Knights were driven from last season’s setback in the playoffs, and determined to go farther this time around.
Watching them swat many a home run was fun, but Century thrived because of more than just the long ball. The Knights had power pitching, good defense, and a core of veteran players that has been intact since before they got to high school.
The Knights had swagger, and they backed it up.
(I’ll admit I was a little jealous when talking to Raico after the state final and noticing his flowing locks and prominent mustache. My balding dome and struggles to sport any consistent facial hair have been chronicled here in the past. Well done, young man.)
There were five Carroll public-school teams that earned state championships during the school year, and three of them won theirs this spring. Westminster made an evening of it at Stevenson University last Thursday when the Owls won girls and boys lacrosse state titles a few hours apart.
They won their 3A titles in front of a large crowd, then came back to town with a police escort to another group that awaited their arrival.
Posing together at Ruby Field for a large team photo must have been special.
And the feat is a rare one in Carroll’s prep sports history — only four other times has a county school won multiple state titles in the same sport.
Winter brought another indoor track state title to Century’s boys program, which has established itself as a perennial contender in the indoor and outdoor seasons. The Knights use their depth and balance to score points up and down the event list, making it difficult for the competition to keep pace.
They fought for the 2A outdoor state title over the weekend before finishing sixth (Century won winter and spring state titles in 2016-17).
The same goes for basketball, where Liberty’s boys won their first outright county in 35 years and Westminster claimed its first in five years while crafting an 18-0 start to the year.
Manchester Valley’s Mackenzie DeWees put her own stamp on things, however — the senior guard reached 2,000 career points, led the Mavericks to another regional final, and earned a fourth Times Player of the Year award. DeWees totaled 2,157 points, which figures to be Carroll’s all-time scoring mark for many years to come.
Going back to the fall — doesn’t seem that long ago, does it? — when Liberty’s boys cross country team added its third consecutive 2A state title, and junior Daniel Saxon has been a part of all three. Don’t be surprised if the Lions contend for a fourth next fall.
Which, now that we’re talking about it … isn’t the first day of practice less than 12 weeks away? Soon enough we’ll be breaking down football rosters and volleyball matchups and figuring out which field hockey teams will be making a trip to the state tournament.
Until then, cheers to the state champions and another exciting year of high school sports in Carroll.