Crisfield High sports teams moving on, looking ahead

By Richard Kellam
Posted 6/24/22

Crisfield High School has a proud sports history dating back to the early years of competitive scholastic athletics. Maryland like most states initially had open classification, the small schools …

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Crisfield High sports teams moving on, looking ahead

Posted

Crisfield High School has a proud sports history dating back to the early years of competitive scholastic athletics. Maryland like most states initially had open classification, the small schools played the big schools in tournament action.

CHS advanced to the State basketball title contest on two occasions: 1933 and 1935. The Crabbers reached the soccer final in 1935 and 1937 — all coached by the legendary George “Gimp” Carrington. Carrington, a local icon, came from from Connecticut and Washington College and was instrumental in developing the sports programs at CHS.

Crisfield had to win the Eastern Shore championship to make it to the finals, the opposition being the Western Shore winner. This was the format Maryland employed even though the Western Shore was home to almost three quarters of the state’s institutions.

Maryland was not overly creative in the early years, there were five Districts. Why an uneven number? Districts 4 and 5 were both located on the Eastern Shore, however Wi-Hi was the lone top class representative, the Salisbury school got a free ride to College Park until the State wised up in 1968 when the Indians were forced to play an inter-district contest with Central of Prince George’s County.

Parity was lacking on the hardwood. Western Maryland schools dominated boys’ basketball until the mid-1950s when D.C. area schools came into their own. Baltimore City schools have ruled at College Park since their induction into the Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association in 1993. Baltimore City has claimed 46 State crowns in that span, Prince George’s County 18, and Montgomery County 11.

Maryland added two new classes for football following the example of neighboring states, still the MPSSAA continues to drop larger schools down a class for certain sports including field hockey. In 2021, 11 2A schools were placed in 1A, yet they remained 2A in all other sports.

Crisfield and the remainder of the traditionally small schools face another obstacle here in the 2020s, the opposition is growing larger. CHS has an enrollment of 267, grades 9 through 11, third from the bottom of the 1A ranks. Lake Clifton sits at the top of the 46 1A schools with 825. Cambridge-South Dorchester is the largest of the 10 Bayside 1A representatives, enrolling 707, 8 of the Conferences 1A’s are situated in the bottom 12.

It's getting more and more difficult to compete. Just three years prior the largest 1A checked in at 682 up from 560.

The 2021-22 school year at Crisfield High School was by no means a banner session for the Crabbers and Lady Crabbers, in fact it was most likely the least productive year in school history. CHS teams managed only 8 wins. It wasn’t a truly representative year as aforementioned CHS has a storied history.

Crisfield High soccer put 2 Regional banners plus a Sectional on the wall in the War Memorable Gym including a trip to the 1A State championship contest. Field hockey has claimed 3 Regional crowns, boys basketball 2 trips to College Park, and 3 Regional titles overall. All this in the past 10 years. This year no banners but still a proud tradition carries on.

Crisfield girls’ teams were winners in the pre-Bayside era, the Lady Crabbers dominated field hockey, basketball and softball in the 1950s. CHS played field ball until the 1953 school year in the fall. Field ball is similar to team handball which is played indoors. Outdoors the sport is contested on a soccer field using a soccer ball. The ball is advanced down field by passing, no kicking. You must release the ball after 2 steps. The sport is all but extinct these days.

High school girls play field hockey and soccer in the fall but there is interest in flag football. CHS will field a girls soccer team in 2022-23.

Crisfield girls were at the top of the heap until the mid-1960s as the Bayside era was ushered in. Crisfield had not won a title in any sport until the 2012 field hockey squad clinched the South Division championship, the Lady Crabbers added Bayside and Regional crowns just missing a State title, losing to Fallston, a 2A school that was dropped down to 1A for field hockey.

The 2002 CHS girls’ basketball team came the closest dropping a 60-58 heartbreaker to Mardela in the Regional final.

Crisfield girls’ basketball floundered in the late 1990s, one lackluster season after another. CHS was 0-23 the year before Greg Bozman took the team over in 2000. Bozman, who had played at CHS in 1981, is a self-proclaimed basketball nut. A winless season was not in his plans, he was determined to turn the program around.

Bozman developed a JV program, players participated in summer leagues and attended camps. He saw potential in a group of freshmen, raw but talented. Bozman built the program around this group, they bought in.

Progress was slow but when the 2001-02 season rolled around Bozman felt this could be the year. The Lady Crabbers opened with a pair of easy wins over Holly Grove and Gunston Prep, top rated Mardela was next. “I wanted to build their confidence up a little before we played Mardela. I knew they were tough but I felt we could play with them,” said Bozman. Greg’s father followed his athletic career closely, the elder Bozman had a slogan that he preached to Greg and his brother Bruce. “To be the best you’ve got to beat the best.”

CHS held their own before fading in the fourth period losing 33-24. They fell to the best, Mardela went on to win the South and Bayside titles. The Lady Crabbers lost the second meeting 63-49 they would have one more opportunity in the Regionals.

Nicole Brown, Ashley Douglas, Jackie Sterling, Shanise Byrd and Cierra Williams started for CHS. Brown had a 30 point effort against Gunston, Sterling 13 points, 15 rebounds, Brown 21 points, 14 boards in a 52-46 loss to Snow Hill. CHS had their ups and downs falling to Pocomoke and Wi-Hi but they avenged these defeats finishing 7-14 taking a 3 game win streak into the playoffs.

Injuries slowed the progress putting pressure on the JV squad. Bozman desperately trying to keep the program on track, he kept only 7 players on the varsity. Eventually he had to scrap the JVs moving the remaining members back up to the big team. The Lady Crabbers regrouped coming into their own and Bozman was eagerly looking forward to the Regionals, the team was on a roll.

“I liked our chances we had a pretty good draw and I felt we could play with anybody,” said Bozman. Crisfield responded with 3 straight victories reaching the final for the first time in Crisfield girls basketball history. Top seed Mardela stood in they way of the first ever trip to the girls State finals. To be continued.