A fall for the books
So here I sit, trying to think of something to write before splitting town for a few days.
There is something that has always seemed wrong about having to do the work you would have done had you not been on vacation before you get to go on vacation. I mean, as far as editing duties go, you can’t put a paper together days ahead of time, and photographers (what are they?) can’t take photos of events before the events take place.
But enough with the whining, as this week marks Thanksgiving and there is plenty to be thankful for.
First, on the topic of photographers, we haven’t had staff photographers for over a year now. That makes things pretty challenging for us in sports, at times, as most of us lack the equipment and/or skill to really do that job at a proficient level in all settings. That said, there are some ridiculously talented people out there who have donated their work to us throughout the fall.
Now, I’m responsible for Calvert County and spend most of my time within its borders, so my apologies to any others in other areas that I’m leaving out, but a big thanks to (in alphabetical order) Jerry Ballengee, Darnell Marbury, Debbie McIntosh, Mike Rudy, Alex Schlogel and Rob Worman. Their work has helped to make these pages look far better than they could have all season, and it is very much appreciated.
And in the same vein in terms of making the job easier, another big thanks to Zach Crounse. He may be a few years away from helping Patux- ent’s teams as a player, but find me a better media relations person anywhere. I hope the coach takes care of you for your efforts.
Thank-yous out of the way, this fall — which technically isn’t over with Calvert’s football team set to play in the Class 2A semifinals on Friday night — was certainly not lacking for highlights.
On Nov. 12, Northern’s girls cross country team traveled up to Hereford High School and came back with the 3A state championship trophy. The state title was the first for the program, and just the second for any Calvert County cross country program (Calvert, 2012).
While claiming the top state prize was new to the Patriots, for Patuxent’s Hayley Jackson it was old hat. Already a two-time state cross country champion coming into her senior season, Jackson finished her high school cross country career by winning No. 3 this year at Hereford.
There weren’t any state championships in girls soccer, but four Southern Maryland Athletic Conference teams won region titles with two playing on to their respective state finals.
Northern, after an unbeaten SMAC regular season that ultimately saw the Patriots share the conference title with North Point, reached the 3A state final before settling for a runner-up finish after a 1-0 final against Urbana of Frederick County. County rivals Calvert won its fourth region championship in the past five years and reached the 2A state final for the second time in three years. The Cavaliers fell just short of claiming their second state title in three years, falling 2-1 to River Hill of Howard County in the 2A championship game.
North Point produced the most successful season in its history, as the Eagles tied Northern in a scoreless SMAC championship game and then proceeded to win their first region championship before bowing out in the 4A state semi- finals in an overtime game with eventual 4A champion Walter Johnson of Montgomer County. McDonough also reached the 1A state semifinals, giving the conference a representative in the state semifinals of each classification.
On the boys side, Leonardtown dominated SMAC on the way to an unblemished regular season and the conference title. The Raiders ultimately came up on the downside of a heartbreaking 1-0 decision to Severna Park in the 4A East final. Down in the 2A, La Plata, which played in the 2A final in 2015, won another regional crown but fell to Middletown of Frederick County in the state semis.
In volleyball, 2015 3A champion Northern made another run at a state championship, winning the 3A South Region title before falling to Damascus of Montgomery County in the state semis. The Patriots were on of three SMAC teams to win region titles, with Calvert (2A) and McDonough (1A) also turning the trick, while Huntingtown delivered an impressive regular season in claiming the SMAC championship.
Northern’s golf team ran through its regular season undefeated and then took the SMAC and District IV championships before capping the season with a third-place showing at the 4A-3A state tournament.
Patuxent reclaimed its perch atop the SMAC field hockey landscape, following up a 1A state runner-up 2015 with an unbeaten regular season that again led to a regional title before the Panthers’ season came to a close in the state semifinals. La Plata (2A South) and Chopticon (3A South) reached their respective region’s championship games but came up short.
So that closes the book on the fall, well, with the exception of Calvert’s football team. The Cavaliers defeated Patuxent 2421 in a game for the ages Nov. 18 to win the 2A South Region title. So now they’re set to host Elkton of Cecil County with a shot at reaching a state final for the first time since winning the 3A crown in 2000.
Last year, Calvert qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2002. This year marked the first time the program had hosted or won a playoff game since that same year. So now two wins into this playoff season, who’s to say there isn’t more history to be made?