For the fifth time in as many years, North Carroll's football coaching carousel has made a stop.
The school last week officially hired former assistant Rob Johnson as its newest head coach. He succeeds Scott Currey, who last fall guided the Panthers to a 3-7 mark amid a tumultuous environment that at one point included a brief player walkout.
Now, athletic director Troy Warehime is hoping that Johnson, a 1989 North Carroll graduate who went on to play at Western Maryland College, will add some stability to the program.
"He's from the community ... and I know he cares a lot about North Carroll," said Warehime. "We had two candidates in our school that were both quality candidates. It was a hard decision, but we went with Rob. I'm very excited about the future and the chance for some consistency finally after five coaches in five years."
Johnson is not a teacher at the Hampstead school, but works there as an agent for the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services. Warehime said he had been apprehensive about making the hire, but gained confidence once the department assured him that it wouldn't transfer Johnson to another school.
Believed to be the first African-American head football coach in county history, Johnson is hoping to do better than his recent predecessors. Currey, Matt Martello (3-7 in 2002), Tim Greenwood (1-9 in 2001) and Bill Rumbaugh (1-9 in 2000) guided the team to a combined mark of 8-32 over the past four seasons.
Rutter highlights signings
Several top athletes from around the county will officially declare their picks for college by signing national letters of intent Wednesday.
One of them will be Francis Scott Key football standout Josh Rutter, who will accept a full scholarship to William & Mary.
This past season, Rutter earned honors as The Sun's Carroll County Defensive Player of the Year, recording 146 tackles at linebacker for the Eagles. He also was a standout running back, rushing for 1,113 yards - about 7.1 per carry - and leading the county with 20 touchdowns.
Carroll County's regular-season wrestling title will be determined this week, with Thursday's rescheduled contest between No. 6 North Carroll and No. 9 South Carroll in Hampstead playing a huge role.
The teams were supposed to meet last week, but school was canceled Wednesday, wiping out the match.
Both teams are 11-0 and set to have three matches this week. North Carroll (4-0 in county) has to meet Westminster on Wednesday before taking on South Carroll (5-0 in county) the following night.
"It's going to be a close match," South Carroll coach Dennis Frazier said. "Whatever team comes out and gets the pins is going to win."
South Carroll won both the regular-season and county tournament titles last year. Westminster took the regular-season crown two years ago when North Carroll captured the county tournament.
MVAL meet, Part II
The Monocacy Valley Athletic League will try to finish its Piedmont Division indoor track championship meet tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Hagerstown Community College.
The meet began there Jan. 17, but poor weather that day forced officials to stop competition early.
Teams involved include county squads South Carroll, Winters Mill and Century, along with teams from Walkersville, Tuscarora and Middletown, all of Frederick County.
The main question now is how everything will work out given tomorrow's shaky weather forecast.
"I'm assuming they will try to make it up at a later date if it's canceled Monday," said South Carroll athletic director Jim Horn.
By a vote of 49-4, the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association's Board of Control has approved a realignment of state districts that will affect Carroll County.
Beginning next school year, Carroll - currently in a district with schools from Anne Arundel, Harford and Howard counties - will be shifted to Western Maryland's district, which includes schools from Allegany, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties.
The board also considered several other measures before ultimately turning them down.
Those included a provision that would have allowed emergency coaches to be placed on equal footing with certified teachers when it comes to filling coaching vacancies, another permitting summer instruction by coaches, and a third allowing students to transfer if their home school didn't field a particular team, then transfer back to play a different sport.
While all three issues have some relevance in the county, the latter has particular meaning at schools like Francis Scott Key, which currently doesn't field an indoor track team.