VSN’s region-by-region preview
by Billy Loverocket
Note: All rankings referenced are from BillyB’s Maryland State Dual Meet rankings. All semifinal matches are slated for 5:30 p.m., with the finals to follow at 7:30 on Wednesday evening.
In the North, No. 16 Sparrows Point is set to host for the second consecutive season. Last year was the first year the duals were broken into four classifications. No. 14 Dunbar is the No. 2 seed and it appears the Point and Poets are on a collision course for a repeat of last year’s final won by Sparrows Point, 43-27.
Things are a bit more interesting this year as Dunbar is fielding a mostly complete team. In fact, Dunbar was able to get by Delaware’s Indian River at the Dundalk Duals in January. At those duals, Indian River beat No. 15 Owings Mills. Owings Mills downed Sparrows Point last Thursday, 37-28, to capture the Baltimore County Dual Meet crown.
Those results are the reason Dunbar sits ahead of Sparrows Point in the rankings.
The Point will see Pikesville (4th seed) in the semis, while the Poets face off with third seeded Overlea.
Patterson Mill will host the East region after being a No. 2 seed last year. The Huskies won the title last year and appear to be in good position to repeat. They will square off with the No. 4 seed, Cambridge-South Dorchester, in the first round and Colonel Richardson (No. 2 seed) faces the third seed, Mardela.
While no local teams are in the West region, it should be noted that defending state champion No. 5 Southern Garrett looks to be the team to beat again for that title. In last year’s state final, the Rams dropped the Point, 47-30.
Metro area teams are represented in all four of the 2A regions, with No. 15 Owings Mills hosting the North and No. 3 Glenelg taking on the South hosting duties.
Owings Mills and Hereford faced each other in the North final last season with the Eagles taking the title by two, 36-34. The two Baltimore County titans met during the regular season with Owings Mills taking that one too, 42-30.
The Eagles get the fourth seed from Prince George’s County, Crossland, in the opener. Hereford, the two seed, gets a PG County team as well, Gwynn Park (3rd seed).
Glenelg is hoping this is the year they make the leap and get past No. 4 Damascus on the dual front. The Gladiators have finished ahead of the Swarmin’ Hornets at two tournaments this year (Damascus’ Holiday gathering and the War on the Shore).
Time and again over the last few years, Glenelg has had to play second fiddle to Damascus, who is going for their seventh straight dual state title (five when the 2A/1A was combined, then last year’s 2A crown). The Gladiators fell to Damascus 49-16 in the 2A final a year ago.
Glenelg will see the fourth seed, Southern from Anne Arundel County, to kick things off while the No. 2 seed Oakland Mills faces La Plata (3rd seed).
North East from Cecil County travels to the Eastern Shore where Parkside hosts the East region. The Indians are the No. 2 seed and will face Kent Island (3rd seed) to open things up. If they win that, they’ll face the winner of Parkside and North Caroline (4th seed).
Winters Mill’s Carroll County dual title clinching win over South Carroll on Saturday night propelled them to the fourth seed in one of the state’s toughest regions. The Falcons draw the honor of being Damascus’ opening round opponent when they travel to Damascus on Wednesday evening.
The No. 2 seed is No. 6 Williamsport, which has lost two three-point matches to Southern Garrett this year (Musselman Duals and regular season). Williamsport gets Frederick County power Middletown (3rd seed) in their first-round match.
It should also be noted, at the Damascus tournament, Williamsport finished ahead of Damascus, so that could be quite a compelling matchup if it were to happen. Another interesting tidbit for this region is, these are the same four teams that comprised the field a year ago. The only change is Williamsport being the two seed. Middletown held that honor last year.
No. 13 Bel Air will handle the North hosting duties for a second straight season. The Bobcats tackle fourth seeded Franklin and second-seeded C. Milton Wright gets the three seed, Kenwood, to get things started.
Bel Air must feel good about its chances of reaching the state tournament again with two wins over the Mustangs in their pocket already (Iron Horse Duals, 51-22 and regular season, 47-18).
Chesapeake from Anne Arundel County and Atholton drew the long drive to Stephen Decatur as their reward for reaching the East Region duals. The Seahawks make for a formidable host as they are ranked No. 9 in the state. Their first-round adversary will be a fellow Eastern Shore squad, James M Bennett (4th seed). Chesapeake and Atholton are the two and three seeds respectively and will bang heads right out of the gate.
A season ago, Atholton made the same voyage and surprised Decatur in the first round, 37-34. Could a rematch be in store? This time in the finals.
Manchester Valley is the third seed in the West and will face No. 2 seed Tuscarora at Linganore. The hosts get fourth seeded South Hagerstown for their first match.
Catonsville, the top seed in the North, is set to square of with Montgomery Blair (4th seed) in its opener. The other side of the slate should be a dandy as No. 11 Springbrook comes in as the third seed and will tee off with Montgomery County rival No. 17 Sherwood (3rd seed). The two met at the end of the regular season with Springbrook posting a 37-30 victory.
No. 12 Leonardtown is the top dog in the East for a second straight year and three teams from Anne Arundel County will make the pilgrimage south for the battle. The Raiders draw fourth seeded North County in the semis. No. 20 South River (2nd seed) gets Old Mill (3rd seed) on the other side of the bracket. South River downed Old Mill during the regular season, 45-20. This semifinal is a rematch of last year’s, won by Old Mill, 35-28.