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Rec Sports Spotlight: North Carroll wins 7-9 Super Bowl

Greg Wunder had coached in the North Carroll Titans youth football program for nine years without a championship when he took over its 7-9 year old team this season.

Well, that consecutive string of frustrations has been broken.

His kids finished first in the Mid-Maryland Youth Football League's Centennial Red Division in the regular season. Then they swept three playoff games, finishing up by beating Laurel, 8-0 in mid-November, to win in the MMYFL Centennial Division's ages 7-9 Super Bowl.

Wunder coached the Titans' 9-11 team last year. His son Graham, who played on that team and is a ninth-grader at Westminster High, became an assistant coach with his new Titans squad this season.

Graham, along with Ryan Warner, Mark Trump, Roger Brummett and Brody Smith, formed the coaching staff that would help Wunder mold this year's Centennial champs.

Wunder was fortunate to inherit a lot of holdovers from the undefeated Titans team that won last year's MMYFL Centennial Division ages 6-8 Super Bowl.

Of course that also put some pressure on the incoming coach because a team with that many returners from a Super Bowl champion had high expectations from both players and parents.

However, the squad got an early season jolt when Winfield beat it, 8-0, in Week 2.

Wunder says the loss jolted his kids. But he also calls it a "defining game." After that loss, they pulled themselves together, and they wouldn't lose again. In fact, they would allow only two more touchdowns the rest of the year.

One came two weeks later when North Carroll topped Laurel, 14-6. The Titans then proceeded to shut out their last five regular season opponents to complete a seven-game winning streak and finish first with an 8-1 record.

The defense proved stifling just about all of the time. As Wunder noted,"we rarely gave up first downs much less points."

And the offense performed at a similarly high level. It scored 165 points in nine regular season games, second-best in the Centennial Red Division.

Obviously these were talented kids. But Wunder says they were not overwhelmingly so.

"We didn't have the fastest kids on the field or the biggest, but ours were tougher and probably stronger.We could put out seven or eight players who may not have been as good as the top three players on other teams, but they were real solid football players," Wunder said.

He explains that his squad used the same recipe each game. The idea was for the Titans to neutralize the opponent's top two or three players and then wear them down with their overall superiority in depth.

"We played as a team, and we won," he concluded.

Wunder credits his players' superior performance to the fact that they were an alert bunch who never gave up or gave in. In fact, they played their best in close games.

"The kids who are nine years old have played football for three or four years. They were easy to coach.And they executed what we told them to do," Wunder said.

Playoffs began the last week of October. The Titans opened with Clarksburg, a team they had easily beaten, 30-0, early in the season. The rematch was closer though, and North Carroll held only a slim lead at halftime. But it gathered steam after intermission and went on to top the Montgomery County squad, 24-6.

Everybody had hoped to face Winfield in game two in order to get revenge against the only team to beat them. The Cavaliers had gone on to a 7-2, second-place finish in the Centennial Blue Conference and both Wunder and his players wanted a second crack.

However, it was not to be. Hampstead eliminated the Cavaliers in their quarterfinal playoff game. The Titans eliminated Hampstead in the semifinal rather easily, winning 30-0.

That brought them to mid-November's Super Bowl against Laurel. North Carroll had beaten Laurel in an overtime game, 14-6, in Week 4.

Wunder says he expected another close game, and he got it despite what he said was a dominating performance by his squad.

"We moved up and down the field and got a bunch of first downs. But we couldn't get it into the end zone," Wunder recalled.

That is, until the fourth quarter.

J.J. Brummett ran for a touchdown and Logan Simpkins converted a two-point play for the 8-0 score.

Wunder thus had his first Super Bowl trophy after 10 years of coaching in the Titans football program. His teams had never before gotten past the semifinals.

"That was pretty special for me. And having my son coaching with me was really a blast," Wunder said.

However by this time his kids were involved in yet another championship drive.

Maryland Youth Football, which operates state championship tournaments for youth teams, had ranked North Carroll the state's third-best in the 7-9 age group. The Titans were invited to compete for a state championship.

Wunder felt the level of competition is similar in quality to that in the MMYFL and decided to enter his team.It was placed in Division III of MYF's 7-9 age bracket.

North Carroll opened by beating Edgewood. It then faced Randallstown in the semifinals of the eight-team divisional tournament.

Wunder says that his team did much the same as it had against Laurel, moving up and down the field but struggling to score. This time though, it never did get in to the end zone, and Randallstown finally prevailed, 6-0, in overtime.

Wunder and the kids weren't too distraught though. He says they had already won the championship they'd set out to win.

He looks forward to next season, win or lose.

"This was really a lot of fun for me, being around the kids. I'm already looking forward to next year," Wunder says. "I'll probably do this forever."

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