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Syracuse safety Ritchy Desir (6) grabs Boston College wide receiver Josh Bordner (8) during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Boston, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) ** Usable by LA, DC, CGT and CCT Only **
Syracuse safety Ritchy Desir (6) grabs Boston College wide receiver Josh Bordner (8) during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Boston, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) ** Usable by LA, DC, CGT and CCT Only ** (Michael Dwyer, AP)

1. Carroll enjoys historic football postseason

WHAT HAPPENED: There have been decades when Carroll football teams didn't manage three postseason wins. On Nov. 14, they earned three on the same night.

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In the Class 1A West Region semifinals, North Carroll hosted Allegany. Though the Panthers had trouble finding offensive rhythm for much of the first three quarters, a 70-yard connection between quarterback Jack Flowers and receiver Zack Sherman pulled the team within three points in the fourth. Then, after a defensive stop, North Carroll marched down the field 96 yards and the two seniors connected once again, making it 17-14, for the game-winning score.

That same night, Liberty traveled to Poolesville in the 2A West semifinals. The Lions failed to allow a touchdown on defense (the home team's only score came on a kickoff return). The visitors also blocked a field goal attempt and cashed in for a safety. On offense, running back Ryan Scheufele punched in four scores — three on the ground, and one on a pass from quarterback Austin Bode — and the Lions cruised to an easy 37-7 victory.

On the other side of the 2A West bracket, South Carroll returned to Oakdale after losing to the Bears early in the regular season. This time, things went much smoother for the Cavaliers. Running back Chris Gavin notched 206 yards on 35 attempts and added three scores in the team's 35-12 victory.

That next week, Gavin and Andrew Louder combined for 342 yards and five rushing touchdowns to lead South Carroll over Liberty for the 2A West crown. North Carroll's season came to an end in the 1A West title game at Fort Hill, which went on to win the 1A state title. South Carroll's magic finally came to a close the following week at Frederick Douglass, which beat the Cavs 43-0 and went on to win the 2A state championship.

SIGNIFICANCE: North Carroll's victory over Allegany also came during the program's first-ever home playoff game in the school's 58-year history. The Lions had only been to the postseason two other times before this season, and that victory against Poolesville was the first in the program's history. When South Carroll and Liberty met the next week, it was also the first time that two Carroll teams met in a regional final. And while Steve Luette has guided the Cavs to the playoffs in each of his six seasons as SC's head coach, this marked their first regional title together.

MEMORABLE QUOTE: "I'm proud of this team," Gavin said following the loss to Douglass in the 2A state semis. "This is the best team I've ever been on. Guys came together when we need them most. To go out and win the county, win the region, and to show the community things they haven't seen in a while is really awesome to do. It gives people hope."

UPDATE: North Carroll, South Carroll and Liberty produced a collective seven first-team all-countians on offense, and eight on defense, as well as the Times Player of the Year in Gavin.

2. Carroll schools leave the Monocacy Valley Athletic League

WHAT HAPPENED: The Monocacy Valley Athletic League's board of control voted to realign based on enrollment, prompting the eight Carroll schools to withdraw from the conference earlier this month. Carroll as a whole had been affiliated with the MVAL since 2003-04, but for most sports this county's schools merely played in what was essentially a "Carroll" conference arm of the MVAL, and then played nearly all of its non-county games against other MVAL schools in Frederick and Washington counties.

SIGNIFICANCE: The move allows Carroll schools to schedule against the teams, schools and programs that officials from each school believe will best serve their needs, rather than being locked into playing the same schools each year. Rivalries with rarely played schools from Howard and Baltimore counties could be renewed.

MEMORABLE QUOTE: "Carroll County Public Schools administrators, principals and athletic directors did not believe that it was in the best interest of the students," said county AD Jim Rodriguez, of the MVAL realignment.

UPDATE: Carroll schools are in the process of finalizing new schedules for the 2015-16 season. It appears most of the MVAL schools will continue to schedule some games with Carroll schools. It remains to be seen whether Carroll County will have a formalized league or whether some Carroll schools will stop playing other Carroll schools, at least in certain sports.

3. Gavin, Fitzgerald, and Sherman set major football records

WHAT HAPPENED: South Carroll's Chris Gavin rushed for a single-season county record 2,016 yards, eclipsing a record that had stood for 16 years. Westminster's Pat Fitzgerald set county marks for receptions in a season with 79, and for receiving yards with 1,165. North Carroll's Zack Sherman set a single-game record for yards when he wrangled 294 yards and four touchdowns on just four catches against Williamsport on Sept. 12.

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SIGNIFICANCE: Gavin's effort broke the old mark set originally by Liberty's Calvin Stacey in 1998, when he rushed for 1,819 yards in 10 games. Fitzgerald broke two former teammates' records: Ryan Hursey's 2013 mark for catches (73), and Garrett Bean's 2012 record for receiving yards (1,055). It is believed Sherman was the first player to go over the 200-yard mark in one game, shattering the previous record.

MEMORABLE QUOTE: "When you're playing the game you don't really realize or get caught up in how many yards you have, I was just out there trying to help us win," Sherman said after his big night. "But when I think about it, yeah it's pretty cool that I was able to get so many yards."

UPDATE: Gavin was named Times Player of the Year for his exceptional season. Fitzgerald and Sherman were first-team all-county selections. Sherman also accounted for all 37 of the team's points in those two postseason games through receiving scores, field goals and extra points.

4. Manchester Valley wins three spring girls team state championships

WHAT HAPPENED: The Manchester Valley girls lacrosse team beat Fallston 13-10 in the Class 2A-1A final at UMBC Stadium on May 20, the MV girls track and field team outdid runner-up Perryville by 15.5 points for the 1A title at Morgan State University on May 23, and the Mavericks won the softball state title, 9-0 over Sparrows Point, also on May 23 at the University of Maryland.

SIGNIFICANCE: It was the first state championship for all three of those programs and it was the first time any Carroll school has swept all three spring titles on either the girls or boys side. It's a record that can't be broken unless new sports are added as only three girls team titles are awarded each spring.

MEMORABLE QUOTE: "The kids came in here March 1 and said, 'We're going to do this,'" said MV girls lacrosse coach Shelly Brezicki.

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UPDATE: After the titles came the awards from the Times. Eric Bumgardner won Girls Track Coach of the Year, Madison Grimm won Softball Player of the Year, Lizzie Colson won Girls Lacrosse player of the year, and Brezicki won not only girls lacrosse Coach of the Year but was named the overall county Coach of the Year for all sports.

5. SC's Pooton ties wins record, leads Cavs to first wrestling state title

WHAT HAPPENED: Jake Pooton knew exactly what he needed to make South Carroll wrestling history when he took the mat in the 182-pound final at the Class 2A-1A state tournament. Win and share the county record for career victories. Win by major decision and lift the Cavaliers to a piece of the state title. The senior did both, winning a state crown for himself and his team along with adding his name to SC's record book.

SIGNIFICANCE: Pooton's major decision, a 9-1 win over Fallston's Austin Rutkowski, gave the Cavs their first state championship in school history by enabling them to tie with Kent Island with 94 points each. The victory also tied Pooton with former SC standout Tyler Mullen with 142 career wins.

MEMORABLE QUOTE: "I felt at peace knowing we had our best wrestler out of the mat," SC coach Bryan Hamper said after Pooton won his final. "There's not a kid in my room that I would rather have and it was fantastic to watch him dominate that match and walk out of here with a state title."

UPDATE: Pooton earned Times Wrestler of the Year honors and continued his athletic career at McDaniel College, where he started his freshman year with 12 wins in his first 18 bouts. South Carroll had five Times all-county first-team selections, eight all-county picks in all.

6. McDaniel wins first postseason men's basketball game in more than 50 years

WHAT HAPPENED: Evan Pupelis scored 12 points and had nine rebounds to lead McDaniel to a 57-52 win over Muhlenberg in the first round of the Centennial Conference tournament. Nick Perugino added 12 points for the Green Terror, sinking four 3-pointers. McDaniel snapped a 12-game losing streak in the postseason by holding on for a close win over the Mules. The Terror built up an early lead, once up 28-8, before needing Wes Brooks to sink a pair of free throws with 4.5 seconds remaining to seal the victory late.

SIGNIFICANCE: It was McDaniel's first postseason win since an 86-65 win over Johns Hopkins in 1961. The Green Terror also matched a program record with their 18th win of the season, a mark that was previously set by coach Kevin Curley's squad in 2007-08.

MEMORABLE QUOTE: "We've still got to think we're the underdogs, because that's how we won most of our games by outworking teams and outhustling them," Terror guard Wes Brooks said. "We're all going to remember it for a long time."

UPDATE: McDaniel went on to lose in the next round of the playoffs, falling 77-63 to Dickinson in the Centennial semifinals. However, the Green Terror have continued their run of success under Curley by beginning the 2014-15 season by winning five of their first eight games, and are poised to be a contender in the Centennial Conference once again.

7. North Carroll repeats as field hockey state champions

WHAT HAPPENED: The Panthers wanted this fall to be their statement, proving to themselves and perhaps the rest of the state that last year's Class 1A championship wasn't a fluke. NC completed its mission Nov. 8 at Washington College by beating Fallston 2-1 and capturing a second consecutive state crown.

SIGNIFICANCE: North Carroll was one of two schools to repeat as champs (Severna Park won its second 4A title in a row and Maryland-record 22nd championship), and the Panthers became the fourth program in Carroll history to win back-to-back state titles.

MEMORABLE QUOTE: "The last two years have been just awesome," Panthers coach Denean Koontz said after the season. "And it has come through hard work … and these kids love field hockey, and they love to play."

UPDATE: The Panthers had seven Times all-county players, including the Player of the Year in junior forward Jensyn Koontz and the Coach of the Year in Denean Koontz. Jensyn Koontz, who scored the game-winner in the state final, led Carroll County in scoring this fall with 23 goals and 50 points, also earned first-team all-state honors. NC had the county's top three scorers in Koontz, junior Zoe Rosner (18 goals, eight assists), and senior Molly Pickard (13, 14).

8. Carroll mines gold in state indoor, outdoor track and field meets

WHAT HAPPENED: Carroll County track and field teams and individuals had a superior calendar year in 2014 as county athletes won nine individual titles and three relay titles at the state indoor meet and then earned 11 individual and four relay titles at the outdoor state meet. Manchester Valley won the Class 1A girls team state title as Katie Krebs won titles in shot put and discus. The North Carroll boys finished second in the 1A outdoor state meet. At the state indoor meet, the Liberty girls finished third and the Century boys finished second in Class 2A.

SIGNIFICANCE: While Carroll was strong across the board in track in 2014, the county absolutely dominated the 1A outdoor meet. In addition to Krebs' two individual titles, Mavericks athletes Susie Badders (triple jump) and Arianna Woodley (long jump) also won titles, while North Caroll's Molly Walsch (800) and Haley Cianfarini (100 hurdles) also won girls titles, and MV's Nathan Gill (high jump) and North Carroll's Grant Dell (800) won boys titles to go with NC's 3,200 relay title.

MEMORABLE QUOTE: "I just talked to the girls individually and said we've got to dig deep," MV girls track and field coach Eric Baumgardner recalled telling his team after star runner Katie Leisher was unable to compete on the final day of the outdoor meet. "She was with us in spirit the entire day. She motivated those girls, I know she did. It's just a great feeling."

UPDATE: Although many of the performers who excelled at both the indoor and outdoor state meets for Carroll have graduated, several are back for an enore. Liberty's Sarah Rinehart is back for her senior season, looking to add to her already impressive running resume. Century's Nick Neral is also back after clearing 15 feet in the pole vault at last year's state meet. The Manchester Valley girls are also looking to compete at the state level again after its success last season.

9. McDaniel women's basketball off to best start in school history

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WHAT HAPPENED: The McDaniel women's basketball team had never started a season by winning its first six games. Until this year. The Terror opened the 2014-15 season by winning its own Tip-Off Tournament, began its conference season by beating Franklin & Marshall by 42 points, then rolled past York and Dickinson before getting to 6-0 by drubbing Washington College 60-41 on Dec. 4 at Gill Center.

SIGNIFICANCE: It's not as if McDaniel just started playing women's basketball. The program has been around since 1922. In nearly a century the Terror had never been 6-0. And this year's hot start has been impressive — the Terror are outscoring their opponents by an average of 73.6-50-5.

MEMORABLE QUOTE: "It's really exciting," said junior forward Alyssa March after the Washington victory. "But our harder teams are still further off, so we can't get too excited, to be honest with you."

UPDATE: McDaniel is 8-0 with its next game coming Jan. 3 against Hollis and a pair of Centennial Conference road contests the following week against Muhlenberg and Haverford. Junior guard Lindsey Nichols is second in the conference in scoring at 18.2 points per game and senior guard Steph Perez, who surpassed 1,000 career points earlier this month, is seventh at 12.6 ppg.

10. Carroll grads make their mark in marquee NCAA sports

WHAT HAPPENED: Plenty of Carroll graduates go on to make a major impact in college sports. Few even make a dent, however, in top-level, BCS-conference Division I football or men's basketball. But Century graduate Josh Bordner is a team captain and key wide receiver at Boston College and Westminster graduate Trevor Anzmann made the Maryland men's basketball team as a walk-on.

SIGNIFICANCE: Bordner is Boston College's leading receiver with 26 catches for 342 yards after making the switch from wide receiver prior to this season, his fifth and final at BC. He's having arguably the best season at a major college football program by a Carroll graduate since North Carroll alum Steve Suter was at Maryland more than a decade ago. Anzmann fulfilled a dream by simply making the Terps after three years away from organized basketball.

MEMORABLE QUOTE: "He had the respect of the seniors and the returning upperclassmen that he was elected captain and hadn't really played here," said BC receivers coach Todd Fitch of Bordner.

UPDATE: Bordner will close his collegiate career by playing against Penn State in the Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday in Yankee Stadium. Anzmann's team appears on track for the postseason, too, as Maryland is ranked 15th in the nation, improving to 11-1 with a win at Oklahoma State on Sunday.

Times sports reporters Bob Blubaugh, Matt Owings, Jake Rill and Pat Stoetzer contributed to this report. Reach the Times sports department at 410-857-7896 or sports@carrollcountytimes.com.

Top stories

These are the top 10 stories from Carroll County in 2014 as chosen by the Times' sports staff:

1. Carroll enjoys historic football postseason

2. Carroll schools leave the Monocacy Valley Athletic League

3. Gavin, Fitzgerald and Sherman set major football records

4. Manchester Valley wins three spring girls team state titles

5. SC's Pooton ties wins record, leads Cavs to first wrestling state title

6. McDaniel wins first postseason men's basketball game in more than 50 years

7. North Carroll repeats as field hockey state champions

8. Carroll mines gold in state indoor, outdoor track meets

9. McDaniel women's basketball off to best start in school history

10. Carroll grads make their mark in marquee NCAA sports

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