All right, we’re entering the season’s halfway point (where did the time go?), and I have some ’splaining to do…
The team I ranked eighth (Atholton) in the first installment of these rankings beat the team I ranked second (Wilde Lake). Even after Atholton won its first three games I still had the Raiders ranked sixth, while Wilde Lake (2-1) kept its two spot.
If I wasn’t me I would be asking, ‘What is that moron doing?’ Heck, I may still be asking that question.
In my defense:
So, did I think Atholton would be better than eighth-best in the league? Absolutely. Did I think the Raiders would beat Wilde Lake? No. Looking at the matchup, I thought Wilde Lake would be able to run the ball and defend the run, which is usually a winning formula.
Wilde Lake rushed for 315 yards (187 by Khalil Vierra) and held Atholton to 170 rushing yards, but lost, 34-30.
What I didn’t account for enough was Atholton’s passing game (more than 300 yards) and ability to make big plays on defense (Matt Robinson recovered a fumble and returned it 40 yards to seal the win with just over a minute left).
I knew that Atholton’s Robinson and Kalvin Seamonson have been a great duo lately. Seamonson can run and has been spreading the ball around, special teams has been making big plays, and the defense has been opportunisitic. But I figured the homecoming crowd would give Wilde Lake the edge in a close game.
So, while I wish I could have predicted it sooner, Atholton is better than I realized. Is it too late for me to jump on board for the playoff run?
What I had wrong last week: Umm, Atholton?
What I had right last week: Hammond ending its 15-game losing streak (though Oakland Mills put up a great fight in an exciting game.)
1. (Previous: 1.) River Hill (4-0, 154 points scored-19 points allowed)
One thing is certain: River Hill is the class of the county. The Hawks had a feisty sparring partner last week as Mt. Hebron scored first and scored twice, something that doesn’t happen often. But in a show of dominance, River Hill still activated the running clock in the third quarter. Kevin Johnson (three touchdowns) has been outstanding.
Last week: beat Mt. Hebron (2-2), 49-13. This week: home against Howard (2-2) Friday at 7 p.m.
2. (6.) Atholton (4-0, 127-79)
Quite a jump, but Atholton earned it by beating one of the county’s elite teams. What does that make the Raiders now? Their defense, which has been allowing 20 points per game, could tighten the screws, but they’re working on it. Of their next four opponents, only one (Long Reach, on Oct. 16) has a winning record. The other three have combined for one win. Atholton has a good chance to go into their Halloween Eve game at River Hill undefeated.
Last week: beat Wilde Lake (2-2), 34-30. This week: at home against Oakland Mills (0-4), Friday at 7 p.m.
3. (4.) Glenelg (4-0, 121-39)
It was kind of tough deciding which undefeated team got the two slot, or if Long Reach still factors into the top three, but Atholton’s win over Wilde Lake trumps any win by the Gladiators or Lightning, and Glenelg’s point ratio is better than Long Reach’s. Glenelg is looking solid after last week’s shutout.
Last week: beat Marriotts Ridge, 40-0. This week: at home against Reservoir (1-3), Friday at 7 p.m.
4. (2.) Wilde Lake (2-2, 73-79)
Chins up, Wildecats. You’ve had a brutal first month, but now you’ve gotten two of the toughest teams in the league out of the way. I know that Atholton loss stings because you had the lead in the fourth quarter on homecoming, but playoff hopes are still alive. Tough call between Glenelg and Wilde Lake, but Wilde Lake beat Marriotts Ridge, 25-6, while the Gladiators defeated the Mustangs, 40-0.
5. (3.) Long Reach (3-1, 65-91)
Long Reach did nothing wrong to drop two floors, but the whole Atholton-Wilde Lake thing caused a lot of shuffling, and the records and point differential are hard to overlook (though a 37-0 shellacking at the hands of River Hill skews both.) Every one of Long Reach’s wins has been by a TD or less. Coach Pete Hughes would love for his team to put up a dominant win this week.
Last week: beat Centennial (1-3), 21-14. This week: at Marriotts Ridge (0-4), Friday at 7 p.m.
6. (5.) Mt. Hebron (2-2, 109-110)
Mt. Hebron or Howard, here? Offense or defense? I liked how Mt. Hebron scored twice on River Hill (though one was on special teams and one was against the second-team defense.) Allowing 49 points in that game has thrown off the Vikings’ defensive resume, but their passing game is putting up big numbers. I think they’ll put on a show Saturday at noon at Hammond’s homecoming, but I think Hammond will also show something by running the ball.
Last week: lost at River Hill (4-0), 49-13. This week: at Hammond (1-3), Saturday at noon.
7. (8.) Howard (2-2, 87-59)
The Lions are lurking. Two early losses may have thrown off the scent, but the losses were to Atholton (15-14) and Glenelg (28-12). Quinn Porter is quietly leading one of the league’s best defenses. They’re not likely to crest .500 this week on the road at River Hill, though.
Last week: beat Reservoir (1-3), 26-13. This week: at River Hill (4-0), Friday at 7 p.m.
8. (7.) Centennial (1-3, 56-84)
The nicked-up Eagles fell a touchdown short of Long Reach last week, and — remember? — took Glenelg to overtime in Week 1. A few different bounces of the ball and the Eagles could be near the top of the rankings. If they put it all together they could still go on a run, but it’s going to be rough sledding this week against another win-starved team.
Last week: lost at Long Reach (3-1), 21-14. This week: at home against Wilde Lake (2-2), Friday at 7 p.m.
9. (9.) Reservoir (1-3, 74-90)
The Gators have been respectable, and their Week 3 win over Marriotts Ridge (33-13) was significant. They don’t have to play River Hill this season, but they’ll still have a difficult time finishing at .500.
Last week: lost to Howard (2-2), 26-13. This week: at Glenelg (4-0), Friday at 7 p.m.
10. (UR) Hammond (1-3, 58-91)
While we’re shaking things up, its time to reward the Golden Bears. This bump is deserved: They’ve only been chased off the field once, by defending champ River Hill, and they were a hop, skip and jump away from beating two of the county’s top teams. Almost doesn’t get you wins, but it does get you the nod over two 0-4 teams.
Last week: beat Oakland Mills (0-4), 28-19. This week: at home against Mt. Hebron (2-2), Saturday at noon.
On the bubble: Marriotts Ridge (0-4, 39-133), Oakland Mills (0-4, 39-128).
Andrew took his first job with the Howard County Times as an editorial assistant/obituary writer in 2001. He has written about an array of sports, from rugby to roller skate dancing. Andrew was a (mediocre) swimmer at Loyola College, but he enjoys playing many sports, including rec-league softball, kickball, basketball, football, soccer, and ultimate Frisbee. He would play rec-league unicycle badminton if he could find a league. He is a fan of all the Baltimore sports clubs, from the O’s to the Blast. When he’s not obsessing over the athletic endeavors of others, Andrew enjoys watching zombie movies from the 70s and 80s. He resides in Catonsville.