If there were any questions surrounding the Marriotts Ridge boys golf team heading into the season, the team effectively put them to rest on Thursday afternoon.
The three-time defending county-champion Mustangs had all four of their guys shoot in the 20s — led by 25 points from senior Jackson Courtney — to provide the firepower needed to earn a 93-87 victory on opening day at Hobbit's Glen Golf Club up against a talented River Hill squad.
"You're always the most nervous about the first match because you don't really know what you have yet, but I was extremely pleased with today," Marriotts Ridge coach Mark Dubbs said. "You saw real improvements in the younger guys who haven't played in as many matches and I think that's the real key. River Hill is a really good team, they played well, so we had to shake the rust off quickly and put up some good scores today."
The Mustangs (1-0), playing without three-year starter Nick Mejia due to travel, were the definition of balance. Courtney, who shot 2-over despite making bogeys on his final two holes, led the way and John Szymanski (24 points), David Polefrone (23) and David Stephens (21) were right behind him.
As it turned out, Marriotts Ridge needed every single one of those efforts, as River Hill (0-1) was on the top of its game as well. Derek Gold led the way with 25 points, Kevin Hickey chipped in with 23 and then Jacob Burman (20) and Josh Mann (19) rounded things out.
If not for each of the Hawks' players making a triple bogey on one of the first four holes, things would have been even tighter.
"It's probably one of the strangest things I've ever come across to have each of them put up a zero on a hole and yet we still were able to post an 87. That's remarkable," River Hill coach Matt Graves said. "Even if each of them just makes a double bogey instead we are in the 90s and have a real chance to win. But that's the way it goes and we went up against a very good team that is extremely well seasoned despite it being just the first match.
"We're right there and the nice thing is I think we will continue to get better, with the goal of trying to peak toward the end of the season."
Gold, whose triple bogey came on the fourth hole after hitting his approach in the greenside bunker, played the day's most consistent golf outside of that hiccup. He made seven pars and a birdie on his other eight holes.
For Courtney, it was putting that ultimately cost him a special round. He narrowly missed birdie attempts on four of his first six holes and then ended up three-putting each of his last two.
"I caught a couple bad breaks coming in, but besides that a pretty good day," Courtney said. "Couple putts drop and I'm right there at two- or three-under, so I think that was the difference."
In the end, Marriotts Ridge did enough to earn the victory and start off on the right foot. Dubbs said, at this stage, that's all you can ask for.
"For these guys, today was big just from the standpoint of seeing that they can do it and also knowing that there's still room for improvement," he said. "Hopefully now they can relax a little bit too. I think naturally the guys get a little up tight being the first time out in a big match. But it was good … good golf, good play on both sides."
Mariotts Ridge 93, River Hill 87
MR (1-0): Courtney 25, Szymanski 24, Polefrone 23, Stephens 21.
RH (0-1): Gold 25, Hickey 23, Burman 20, Mann 19.
Boys box scores:
Centennial 70, Howard 54
C (1-0): Sterenberg 22, Chaplain 18, Sams 16, Fukuzawa 14.
Ho (0-1): Pool 19, Kassiri 15, Wheeler 14, Goldberg 6.
Glenelg 79, Reservoir 58
G (1-0): Forester 21, Abruscato 21, McAuliffe 20, Mikk 17.
Re (0-1): Teodori 18, Goron 17, Gigioli 15, Punza 8.
Mt. Hebron 57, Hammond 49
MH (1-0): Lloyd 22, Hall 15, Kim 12, Komons 8.
Ha (0-1): McDonald 18, Witt 11, Sarich 10, Gaffere.
Wilde Lake 53, Oakland Mills 50
WL (1-0): Schneider 18, Tiffey 14, Wilson 11, Swanson 10.
OM (0-1): Fairbanks 21, Carroll 16, Clyde 11, Atkins 2.
Girls box scores:
Howard 66, Centennial 44
The Lions opened with the highest score of the day among county teams. Jacqueline Cherry set the pace for the Lions with 24 points and each of the team's other three players scored in double digits. Isabel Trojillo led Centennial with 19 points.
Ho (1-0): Cherry 24, H. Lurie 17, Abrams 13, L. Lurie 12.
C (0-1): Trojillo 19, Fukuzawa 13, Park 8, Taylor 4.
Wilde Lake 26, Oakland Mills 9
Lee Lee Sands opened her season with a birdie on the way to putting up a team-high 19 points and leading the way to the victory.
WL (1-0): Sands 19, Battle 7.
OM (0-1): Claxton 5, Fuentes 4.
Marriotts Ridge 31, River Hill 17
In her first high school match, Mustangs' freshman Faith McIlvain put up 20 points to lead the Mustangs.
MR (1-0): McIlvain 20, Quinn 8, Dorsch 3.
RH (0-1): Lesho 12, Berg 5.
Glenelg 10, Reservoir 2
G (1-0): Stone 10.
Re (0-1): Smith 2.
Mt. Hebron 12, Hammond 0
MH (1-0): Rathbun 12.