I hear there’s a big game this weekend. Seems like we’ve been talking about Atholton and River Hill for more than a month now. Well, the time is finally here for a matchup between the county’s two undefeated teams, and all that’s left is to play the game on the field. There should be a big crowd, especially if the weather is nice, so be sure to arrive early.
I’m not foolish enough to predict an Atholton upset (River Hill has 36 consecutive wins and home-field advantage), but the Raiders do have the skill players to match up with the Hawks and the confidence of having won eight in a row. They’re going to come out fired up. I’ve seen River Hill wear teams down with their inside-outside running game, so Atholton’s task will be to fight as hard in the fourth quarter as it does in the first quarter. I think the Raiders will make some exciting plays on special teams, offense and defense, and they’ll score a couple times, but River Hill will win by two touchdowns, maybe three. No one should write this game off as a laugher, though. Howard scored twice on the Hawks earlier this month, and held them to 30 points. As amazing as the Hawks have been the last few years, they’re still high school kids on a football field.
A curiosity: the two 8-0 teams play Friday, and so do the two 0-8 teams (Oakland Mills at Marriotts Ridge). I think the Scorpions will win by a touchdown. In all, four of the six games this weekend are between teams with identical records.
There was an “upset” last weekend (Centennial over Hammond), so there’s movement in the rankings.
What I had wrong last week: Wilde Lake coming out on top over Howard via a big defensive stop or two, and both teams really grinding it out on the ground. (The teams had 11 turnovers between them.)
What I had right last week: Glenelg winning a close game, but not as close as 13-12 (the Gladiators won, 13-7). Centennial pulling the upset over Hammond (Why didn’t I switch the Eagles in the rankings if I was so sure? Because I didn’t have the guts.) Reservoir scoring three or four touchdowns, but Mt. Hebron winning the shootout (28-26).
1. (Previous: 1.) River Hill (8-0, 328 points scored-37 points allowed)
328 points scored, 37 allowed. What more can you say? Bring out the Raiders, a seventh straight county title is on the line. River Hill has a knack for putting on a dominant show in these highly anticipated showdowns. Last time they played an undefeated team, they won, 35-0.
Last week: beat Oakland Mills (0-8), 48-3. This week: at home against Atholton (8-0), Friday at 7 p.m.
2. (2.) Atholton (8-0, 242-118)
There’s no use talking around it: Atholton will need to play a near-perfect game to pull this one off. The defense is going to have to be the 1985 Chicago Bears for Halloween, and Kalvin Seamonson, Matt Robinson, Andrew King, Adam D’Amico and company will have to rise to the occasion. I know they have it in them, and I’m excited to see a good game.
Last week: beat Marriotts Ridge (0-8), 49-13. This week: at River Hill (8-0) Friday at 7 p.m.
3. (3.) Glenelg (7-1, 175-114)
I guess with all this talk about Atholton and River Hill, Glenelg has been neglected in the attention department. The Gladiators have been having an especially good season, though, and they’ll get a chance to prove it in the playoffs. The defense has come through in big wins each of the last two weeks. After this week’s big game, don’t put away your padded seat-cushion just yet: Glenelg plays Atholton in the regular-season finale, which could be a battle between two 8-1 playoff teams.
Last week: beat Long Reach (5-3), 13-7. This week: at home against Mt. Hebron (4-4), Friday at 7 p.m.
4. (4.) Wilde Lake (5-3, 168-105)
Clutch win against Howard, the first shutout of the season. Now the Wildecates play Long Reach which looks like another tough matchup. I like Wilde Lake in this one, because its defense has been a little better all season, and the Wildecats are playing with conviction after that 21-0 shutout.
Last week: beat Howard (4-4), 21-0. This week: at Long Reach (5-3), Friday at 7 p.m.
5. (5.) Long Reach (5-3, 141-140)
The Lightning played tough the last two weeks against two of the league’s top teams (Atholton and Glenelg), but still came away with losses. There’s a good chance that it will be three in a row after the Wilde Lake game, unless they can really dig in and change course. It’ll require an inspired offensive effort: They’ve scored seven points in their last two games, and are playing the league’s second-ranked defense.
Last week: lost to Glenelg (7-1), 13-7. This week: at home against Wilde Lake (5-3), Friday at 7 p.m.
6. (6.) Howard (4-4, 165-118)
The Lions’ big chance to move up came and went in the loss at Wilde Lake. Now they play two good teams that are ranked below them. Their defense has allowed the same number of points as Atholton’s, but Atholton has scored almost 10 points more per game. It hasn’t helped having A.J. Bonavitacola and DaRon Floyd on the sideline, but Floyd should be back this week.
Last week: lost to Wilde Lake (5-3), 21-0. This week: at home against Centennial (3-5), 7 p.m.
7. (8.) Mt. Hebron (4-4, 205-242)
There’s no way to get this next trio right: Hammond beat Mt. Hebron soundly earlier this month, Hebron beat Centennial two weeks ago in a wild one, and Centennial beat Hammond last week by one point. That creates a circle. Mt. Hebron has scored the third-most points in the league, but has struggled on defense; Centennial is fairly balanced; and Hammond has played solid defense but has struggled to score. I’m going to go by the records. Also, a good offense goes a long way in high school.
Last week: beat Reservoir (2-6), 28-26. This week: at Glenelg (7-1), Friday at 7 p.m.
8. (9.) Centennial (3-5, 172-200)
In true 2009 Centennial fashion, the Eagles pulled out a win over Hammond, 23-22. Four of their games (two wins, two losses) have been decided by a total of five points. If they played Hammond or Mt. Hebron or Reservoir again, it would probably be another pick-’em game, so they belong sandwiched between those teams.
Last week: beat Hammond (2-6), 23-22. This week: at Howard (4-4), Friday at 7 p.m.
9. (7.) Hammond (2-6, 139-175)
I hate to negate Hammond’s homecoming win over Mt. Hebron by switching their positions, because Hammond was clearly the better team that day, but it’s the only way to straighten out this mess. Hammond was at its peak at that point, scoring 11 more points than any other game this season, and that may be its signature performance (although the two teams left on their schedule are a combined 2-14). Since then the Golden Bears have had a few injuries, and have had trouble getting back on track.
Last week: lost to Centennial (3-5), 23-22. This week: at Reservoir (2-6), Saturday at 1 p.m.
10. (10.) Reservoir (2-6, 156-187)
The Gators aren’t happy right now – only one of their six losses was by more than two touchdowns — and they’re going to try to take out their frustrations on Hammond in front of a homecoming crowd Saturday. I hope a lot of people wear costumes and stuff for Halloween, and they give out candy — that would be fun. I think Reservoir buckles down on defense, protects this house, and wins by about 21-15 or so.
Last week: lost to Mt. Hebron (4-4), 2-6. This week: at home against Hammond (2-6), Saturday at 1 p.m.
On the bubble: Marriotts Ridge (0-8, 60-319), Oakland Mills (0-8, 81-284)
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.