If you're looking to watch a lopsided boys soccer game this fall, you may want to try attending a matchup outside of Baltimore County.
While a blowout might happen in the Baltimore County league, the chances of one have been greatly reduced by the realignment of teams into three divisions -- Division I being the strongest and Division III the weakest.
Each year, two teams from each division will move up and two teams will move down to maintain the parity and to give other teams an opportunity to play better competition.
"This was something I put together last year as a proposal and the county jumped all over it," said Catonsville coach David Lane, whose team will compete in Division II along with Dundalk, Eastern Tech, Kenwood, Overlea, Owings Mills, Pikesville and Sparrows Point. "You won't be seeing many 5-0 games. There should be a lot of one- and two-goal games and it should much better prepare all of us for the playoffs."
Said Parkville coach Joe Smith: "I love it. Playing good teams throughout the season can only make you better as season goes on. Blowouts don't help anyone."
Not only are Southern, Northern, Mervo and Forest Park getting their feet in the door with fledgling soccer programs, but they have a good chance in Baltimore City.
The four squads, in their first year of varsity soccer, will compete against each other in Division II, while the more experienced teams -- Patterson and Poly, which tied for last year's city crown, along with Lake Clifton and City will compete in Division I.
"We thought it would be the fairest and best way to introduce those teams," said Patterson coach Derek Maki.
Of the new teams, Southern seems to be the front-runner in Division II.
Coach Paul Llufrio's top players are Poly transfer midfielder Nick Fowler, whom Poly coach John Baumann considers one of the city's best players. Llufrio is also high on senior Baba-Jidi Sodipo, a native of Nigeria who will play sweeper, and junior striker Chuck Allen.
"We should definitely contend for the city championship," said Llufrio.
Patterson, meanwhile, could make a significant leap toward area-wide respectability this season. Top scorers Guillermo Pineda (15 goals, eight assists), Danny Melgarejo (nine goals) and John Thomas, who has a great deal of speed and skill, bolster Maki's contention.
"This is the best team I've had since 1990, when we went 14-1-1 and won the MSA B title," Maki said.
Calvert Hall and Curley have risen to the top of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference the past couple of seasons but this could be the "Year of the Greyhound."
Gilman lost second-team All-Metro midfielder Corey Popham (Princeton) to graduation. But with nine returning starters and a new coach in Ned Harris, this squad could be even better and more balanced than the one that has twice beaten Calvert Hall the past two seasons.
Gilman has a chance to unseat MIAA champ Calvert Hall, which returns second-team All-Metro senior midfielder Ryan Smith, and challenge MIAA runner-up Curley (the 1993 champ), which returns All-Metro junior striker Giulliano Celenza (29 career goals, 15 career assists).
Boys' Latin claimed the MIAA B Conference title last season but defending it will be even more of a chore with Gibbons down from the A Conference.