VSN celebrates the best boys teams as our milestone – and unforgettable – year concludes

by Derek Toney

The 2019-20 Baltimore high school athletic year will be remembered for the spring season ending abruptly because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

While spring athletes have been honored for a season that wasn’t, Varsity Sports Network reached a milestone.

We’re 10 years old. It sneaked up on us as the Covid-19 pandemic has consumed our lives the last couple of months.

When the concept of VSN was formulated in summer of 2009, the mission was simple: Satisfy the absolute craving for quality coverage of high school sports in the Baltimore region.

VSN debut in August 2010. With the efforts of myself and Gary Adornato, along with experienced reporters and freelance contributors, we’ve painted memories (we hope) for thousands of scholar athletes over these last 10 seasons.

We don’t know when sports on all levels will return. It will likely be much different from when we last saw in early March.

It will be same for high school athletics. VSN’s commitment to providing an unique brand of coverage, from game coverage to video highlights and interviews to feature stories, will remain.

VSN thanks our subscribers for giving us the opportunity to provide the best coverage of high school athletics in Baltimore. We also thank the coaches, athletic directors and athletic administrators in the region who have aided us with a variety of information over the years.

Last, but not least, VSN thanks the countless thousands of student athletes who have allowed us to capture memories they’ll carry into the next phase of their lives.

It’s been a heck of a ride. And there’s more to come.

Since this is the end of our 10th season, VSN wants to recognize the best during our inaugural decade.

Let’s start with the top boys programs. Teams who won three or more private league (MIAA A) or state public championships, between the 2010-11 and 2019-20 seasons, made the initial list.

Those teams who won three consecutive titles advance to the final list. The 10 teams chosen is based on overall dominance and competition.

1. McDonogh School soccer

You can’t discuss MIAA A Conference soccer without McDonogh. The Owings Mills school made history last fall, winning an unprecedented third straight title. The Eagles have six championships since 2010 (eight title game appearances). From Steve Nichols (won seven MIAA A titles in 17 seasons before leaving in 2013 to become Loyola University’s mens coach) to Brandon Quaranta (four titles), McDonogh is one of the nation’s elite programs.

2. Gilman School track

The Greyhounds weren’t able to give coach Johnnie Foreman an opportunity at one final championship this spring, but the Roland Park school has enjoyed a dynastic run. Gilman has won 12 combined indoor and outdoor titles, including a trio of 3-peats (2017-19 and 2010-12 in outdoor and 2011-13 in indoor). The Greyhounds have 20 MIAA crowns under Foreman, who retired from the oval after 35 seasons.

3. Calvert Hall College lacrosse

The Covid-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 spring season, including the Cardinals’ bid to continue arguably the greatest run in the nation’s premier boys lacrosse league. Last spring, the Towson school became the first to win three straight MIAA A Conference championships (first in nearly 70 years to win three in a row in MIAA A or MSA A league). Calvert Hall was 3-0 and ranked No. 1 nationally by Inside Lacrosse (co-national champions last spring) before its 2020 campaign abruptly ended.

4. Loyola Blakefield cross country

The Dons ruled the trail with seven MIAA A championships since 2010, including a stretch of five straight (2010-2014). The Towson school enjoyed a run of six straight individual first-place showing with Matt Jablonski, Kevin Corbusier, Tyler Spear and Michael Wegner. Loyola has a MIAA-best 13 team titles.

5. St. Frances Academy football

The Panthers have been the area’s consensus No. 1 team the past four seasons and finished ranked in the Top 5 of USA Today’s Super 25 rankings the last three years. The East Baltimore school’s meteoric rise, however, has been controversial, playing an independent schedule since 2018 after MIAA A Conference schools refused to play St. Frances school because of safety and competitive imbalance concerns. The Panthers, 44-3, since 2016, should again be among the nation’s elite in 2020.

6. Mount St. Joseph and St. Frances basketball

It’s hard to separate the two programs who have dominated the MIAA A and Baltimore Catholic leagues. The nationally-ranked Panthers won a third straight BCL Tournament – and record ninth – title last season, defeating a Gael squad that beat them for the MIAA A crown. Since the 2010-11 season, Mount St. Joseph (seven) and St. Frances (six) have combined for 13 of the 20 MIAA A and BCL Tournament championships.

7. Severna Park lacrosse

The Falcons have been the area’s best public program with four straight state championships, with a fifth likely in the spring. The Anne Arundel County squad, which is tied with for most state titles (nine with Hereford) is 68-1 against state public teams since 2016.

8. Poly basketball

Once known for its powerhouse football squads for three decades under legendary coach Augie Waibel and one of the area’s top academic schools, Poly has morphed into a Baltimore hoops blue blood. The Engineers claimed a record three straight Class 3A state championships, and were on path for a fourth before the Covid-19 shutdown. The Cold Spring Lane school garnered its first national ranking last winter en route to a third Baltimore City league title in five seasons.

9. McDonogh and Mount St. Joseph wrestling

The Eagles and Gaels share the spot as they’ve reigned MIAA A wrestling. McDonogh denied Mount St. Joseph a fifth straight MIAA A crown last winter, but the Gaels recovered for a “four-peat” in the Maryland Independent Schools Tournament. The rivals have won nine of the last 10 MIAA A titles and seven MIS crowns over the last 10 years.

10. Archbishop Spalding baseball

The Cavaliers, not Calvert Hall College, were the premier team in the MIAA A Conference, winning four championships. The Anne Arundel County school’s 3-peat (2014-16) was the first since Calvert Hall’s record run of five in a row (2005-2009).

10. Gilman School squash

The Greyhounds have been (pardon the pun) squashing MIAA competition, winning eight championships since 2010. The Roland Park school, which started its squash program in 2007, didn’t lose its first league match until 2017.

Best of the rest

Archbishop Spalding hockey (MIAA A champions – 2013, 2015, 2018, 2019)

Calvert Hall baseball (MIAA A champions – 2012, 2013, 2019)

Dunbar football (Class 1A state champions – 2010, 2011, 2012, 2017)

Franklin football (Class 3A state champions – 2013, 2014, 2018)

Gilman football (MIAA A champions – 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015)

Gilman tennis (MIAA A champions – 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)

Gilman volleyball (MIAA A champions – 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018)

Hereford cross country (Class 3A state champions – 2010, 2011, 2012)

John Carroll basketball (MIAA A champions – 2011, 2012, 2018)

Loyola rugby (MIAA champions – 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018)

Loyola swimming (MIAA A champions – 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Loyola volleyball (MIAA A champions – 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019)

Loyola water polo (MIAA champions – 2010, 2014, 2018)

Marriotts Ridge co-ed golf (State champions – 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)

Marriotts Ridge soccer (Class 2A state champions – 2010, 2011, 2012)

McDonogh swimming (2012, 2018, 2019)

McDonogh water polo (MIAA champions – 2012, 2016, 2017)

Mount St. Joseph hockey (MIAA A champions – 2011, 2017, 2020)

Severna Park cross country (Class 4A state champions – 2012, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019)

St. Paul’s School golf (MIAA A champions – 2016, 2017, 2018)

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