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County football on anything but a roll


There can be no more alibis.

This is not just a bad cycle or a string of bad luck or some unfortunate bounces of the football.

High school football in Carroll County is terrible.

The recent beatings endured by the county's top team, South Carroll, accentuated the poor state of football in this county.

The Cavaliers have been trounced three straight weeks by Linganore, Thomas Johnson and Damascus. Suddenly, South Carroll is 4-4 and fighting for a winning season.

The other county schools have long since given up hopes of a winning season.

Through eight weeks and 32 games, Westminster (2-6), Francis Scott Key (2-6), Liberty (0-8) and North Carroll (0-8) have combined for four wins.

At this pace, the five county schools (8-32) might not match last year's 12-36 record.

So where did it all go wrong for football in this county?

To start with, Carroll County never was a hotbed of high school football. This is not western Pennsylvania, where youngsters grow up loving the game and living for Friday nights.

In this county, the top athletes usually spread themselves around from football to basketball to baseball or lacrosse. There is no total commitment to one sport.

In the small communities of Hampstead, Manchester, Taneytown, Eldersburg and Sykesville, soccer takes precedence over football.

There is much more of a soccer mentality than football mentality in these areas, robbing North Carroll, Francis Scott Key and Liberty of potential football stars every year.

That mentality won't change.

North Carroll's standout running back Chris Boog pointed out another problem facing his school and some others in the county.

"The guys in school that are big don't care about football," Boog said.

For those youngsters, there are drag racing, stock car racing, fishing and hunting and weekend parties.

That mentality won't change in Carroll County.

What can change to make Carroll County respectable in football?

Only one thing can save football in this county.

That would be a large influx of families with football backgrounds from the Washington and Baltimore areas.

South Carroll has benefited a little from families moving to the rolling hills of Carroll County from Baltimore and Washington.

The Cavaliers' 6-foot-5, 280-pound offensive tackle Jamie Waltersdorff comes from good football stock. His uncle, Mike Fitzgerald, was a 6-3, 265-pound lineman for Lansdowne, and his brother-in-law, Dave Shade, was a 6-3, 265-pound force for Cardinal Gibbons.

But right now there just aren't enough Waltersdorffs to go around in the county and make the schools consistent winners.

There have been instances of county schools rising above the norm and having a good year or a strong two or three years.

That occurs when an outstanding coach, such as a Ken Parker, Guy Stull or Jim Head, gets just enough good football players to compete with the best from Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery and Frederick counties.

Parker, now an assistant at South Carroll after 26 years as head coach, had several good runs at South Carroll.

Stull and Head each turned the trick at Westminster, making the Owls good enough to beat the Woodlawns and Thomas Johnsons and make an impact at the top 4A level.

But those good coaches have grown tired of the grind and the top-notch football players have graduated, leaving the county mostly barren of football success.

Fortunately, basketball practice begins soon.

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