That Francis Scott Key captured its first Carroll County boys cross country championship Thursday was no surprise.
The way the Eagles did it, however, was one for the record books.
Key, the area's third-ranked team, swept the first five places, finishing with the lowest possible score (15) to run away from host South Carroll (72). Senior Jared Welsh, junior Arthur Leathers, senior Colin Fearns, junior Jordan White and senior Zach Holz finished one through five, respectively, helping the team accomplish the unheard-of feat.
"I don't think that's ever happened, at least in the last 16 years that I've coached," South Carroll coach Rob Pennington said. "There have been some decent teams, but there's always been someone up there to mess it up."
This time, no one did. "Everything had to go right," Eagles coach Tim Walsh said. "They just wanted it, and they got it."
Now, Francis Scott Key will shoot for its first state title since 1990. That meet will take place Nov. 11 at Hereford, which features a hilly terrain similar to South Carroll's.
"I don't think they're peaking," Walsh said. "I don't think they're at their best yet."
Panthers hit new high
The North Carroll golf team may not have won last week's Class 4A-3A tournament at the University of Maryland, but don't tell that to coach Bill McDonald.
In their best performance at the states, the young Panthers battled through cold and windy conditions to finish third, trailing only five-time champion Churchill and Charles County power LaPlata.
Led by sophomore Michael Coppa, who had rounds of 76 and 78, the Panthers qualified for the finals - the second day of the two-day tournament - for the first time in school history. They finished with a cumulative score (639) that would have beaten every team in the 2A-1A division.
"It's quite impressive for a young program," said McDonald, whose team is in just its 11th year. "It's encouraging for years to come."
McDonald will return all of his top players, including sophomores Coppa, Bryan Johnson and Brian Rampolla and junior Travis Mewhirter, next season.
Westminster sophomore Spencer Gifford also finished fourth overall in the individual competition, which combines all four state classifications. After struggling last year, he had a two-day total of 147.
"I felt a lot more confident with my game this year," Gifford said. "I knew that I would be playing with the first group [in the finals]. I thought that was cool, because last year I did so badly."
Heffler gets honor
Liberty's football team hasn't had much to cheer about this season, but the Lions (0-7) received an honor Thursday when senior cornerback Jared Heffler was named the Monocacy Valley Athletic League's Piedmont Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
In a 35-19 loss to Frederick last week, Heffler had 11 tackles and scored two defensive touchdowns - one on a recovered fumble and the other on an interception. Heffler, who has three interceptions on the year, also had a defensive touchdown on a fumble return during the season opener at North Hagerstown, and is the team's leading receiver with more than 500 yards.
Jeff Seidel contributed to this article. To submit news and story ideas about Carroll County high school athletics, contact Rich Scherr at CarrollSports@comcast.net