Most high school gyms in Maryland recognize state titles won under the jurisdiction of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, but Middletown’s boys soccer program sees its rich history extending well beyond the MPSSAA.
“It’s not just us, but it goes back to the first four schools in the county that were playing in the 19-teens,” said Middletown boys soccer coach Jeff Colsh, who made reference to Middletown, Frederick, Brunswick and Thurmont high schools.
Colsh, who coached the Knights to state titles in 2015 and 2016, said Middletown’s soccer program has had the longest continuous run in Frederick County history — one that exceeds a century.
In a nod of appreciation for that rich history, Middletown will honor a boys soccer team that won what was considered to be a state championship well before longtime Knights coach Bob Sheffler established a standard of excellence that began in the 1970s and extended through the first decade of the 21st century.
When they host Urbana on Oct. 3, the Knights will honor family members, friends and neighbors of a 1929 Middletown team that won the Playground Athletic League title.
On Dec. 14, 1929, Middletown defeated Easton 7-2 in the boys soccer state championship game at Baltimore Municipal Stadium — a facility that was primarily used for high school and collegiate football games, including the annual Army-Navy football game. The stadium was later utilized by the Baltimore Orioles of the International League, and it was eventually rebuilt and named Memorial Stadium — the first home of Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles.
John Horine, a 1955 Middletown graduate and a Frederick County teacher for 34 years, and his wife, Joann, did extensive research on Maryland high school athletics after John retired in 1993. John’s mission: compiling a list of PAL champions and runners-up in boys soccer, boys basketball and track and field so they could get the same recognition as teams that have won MPSSAA crowns.
PAL, a statewide athletic organization, recognized one state champion for each high school sport from 1919 through 1939, when it disbanded due to the United States’ involvement in World War II.
The Horines took several trips across the state, spending considerable time at Frostburg State and Salisbury University, which had access to archives of various weekly newspapers. They also contacted several county libraries across the state via phone, tirelessly combing through editions of the Valley Register, Frederick Post and Cumberland Times, among other publications, to gather information.
The project took just over a year.
“It was a fun thing — I enjoyed doing it,” John said.
In the case of Middletown’s boys soccer team, John learned that the Knights had established a strong program for years leading up to their 1929 title, and he tabbed Middletown coach Bill Hauver “a legend.” In 1929, Middletown was the state’s Western Shore champion, and Easton was the Eastern Shore champ.
“Middletown had been in the hunt a number of different times but had never won a state championship until ‘29,” he said. “[Hauver] was chasing a state championship, and he finally got it.”
Five of Sheffler’s former players, Cory Blain, David Sullivan, Michael Adams, Charlie Adams and Billy Adams, are related to members of the 1929 team. Any others who have ties to the team are encouraged to contact Colsh at Jeffrey.Colsh@fcps.org.