With his team hit hard by graduation after last year's trip to the regional finals, Liberty boys soccer coach Ed DeVincent entered this fall searching for a player to assume the role of team leader.
Instead, he's found a whole unit.
Led by their senior-dominated defense, the Lions opened the season with four straight wins and entered Friday's game at Marriott's Ridge having outscored opponents, 11-1.
"We've had some people step up," DeVincent said. "We're pretty much a senior-laden team in the back, then we have basically all underclassman in the midfield and up top. So it was a matter of a couple of those seniors ... stepping up and playing prominent roles."
Chief among them have been defenders Tony Lee, Jimmy Sambataro, Phil Seegren and Joe Riebau. Together, they helped the team register consecutive shutouts against Glenelg, Mountain Ridge and South Carroll in spite of some uneven offensive play.
"The defense has been ahead of our offense," DeVincent said. "But while we're working on our offensive consistency, our defense has been steady so far. I knew going into the year that we'd compete in every game. You work hard, and hopefully the results will come your way."
A helping hand
Players on the Winters Mill volleyball team will take a brief break from their pursuit of a Carroll County title. Next Wednesday, the Falcons will go on a bowling excursion in Taneytown with members from The Arc of Maryland, a grass-roots organization for people with cognitive and developmental disabilities.
"Our kids are going to go and help them bowl and just socialize with them," Falcons coach Shelly Katzef said. "We thought it would be a good thing for them to learn about other people. We feel our job as coaches is not only to make them better volleyball players but, as much as we can, better young people."
The idea came from junior varsity coach Jill Hoffman, who serves as a community program manager for the organization.
Katzef said that players will help Arc members bowl and improve their life skills, such as meeting new people and engaging in conversation.
"Everyone is going to get to learn how to communicate and help others have a fun time," Falcons senior Jackie Schaeffer said. "It will let them see what it's like to be on a team."
A pair of county football players were honored last week as Players of the Week in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League's Blue Ridge Conference.
On offense, Century quarterback Luke Wright led the Knights' spread offense, rushing 20 times for 160 yards and two touchdowns, and also completing five of nine passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns. His efforts led Century to a 35-20 win over South Hagerstown.
Defensively, Liberty lineman Mike Knox earned the honor for his 45-yard fumble return against Middletown in the Lions' 53-36 loss.
As part of its new effort to televise high school football games in the Maryland, Virginia and Washington areas, CN8, Comcast's in-house network, will air Thursday night's game between host Francis Scott Key and Thomas Johnson on tape delay.
The game will be broadcast on tape Saturday at noon, and also will be available through the network's Web site (www.cn8.tv). Digital cable customers will be able to watch it On Demand for one week.
"We were pleasantly surprised [to find out]," said Eagles coach Bill Hyson, who learned of the plans last week.
Hyson hoped to shield the information from his players prior to Friday's game against North Carroll in an attempt to keep them focused. Those behind the scenes, however, were brimming with excitement.
"To be honest, I have no idea what to expect," said Francis Scott Key athletic director Craig Walker, who plans to meet with Comcast officials on Tuesday to finalize details. "We'll probably make sure things are looking good for it."
The teams finished a combined 16-6 last season, and each opened this season with a win.
New conference lineup
Fans of most sports in the county will notice a change when it comes to the conference alignment of county teams. Five county schools - Century, Francis Scott Key, Liberty, South Carroll and Winters Mill - now make up the new Blue Ridge Conference in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League.
Westminster and North Carroll remain in the Chesapeake Division. The conferences will remain identical in all sports except field hockey and lacrosse, two sports in which fewer teams in the league compete.
To submit news and story ideas about Carroll County high school athletics, contact Rich Scherr at CarrollSports @comcast.net.