River Hill shut out its second quality opponent in a row in a 37-0 win over Long Reach, further cementing its No. 1 spot. I’m looking forward to seeing Friday night’s clash between Mt. Hebron’s passing game and River Hill’s defense. The Vikings have been scoring four touchdowns a game, but the Hawks have allowed more than one touchdown in a game only once since the start of the 2007 season. Something has to give. I think Mt. Hebron gets on the scoreboard, but River Hill still wins comfortably.
Atholton at Wilde Lake on homecoming has the trappings of an outstanding game. Atholton has beaten Wilde Lake only three times in the last 30 years, but the Raiders are riding high on the momentum of a 3-0 record, and Wilde Lake still seems to be finding its feet in the 2009 season.
Hammond has been on the brink of upsets of Long Reach and Wilde Lake each of the past two weeks, and now the Bears get a chance to spoil winless Oakland Mills’ homecoming on Saturday. I have a feeling the Bears’ 2 1/2-year losing streak is about to end.
What I had wrong last week: Centennial-Atholton, Glenelg-Howard and Marriotts Ridge-Reservoir being one touchdown games. Centennial and Marriotts Ridge winning those one-touchdown games.
What I had right last week: River Hill neutralizing Long Reach’s speed. (I know: I really went out on a limb there…)
1. (Previous: 1) River Hill (3-0)
Kevin Johnson showed why Wake Forest is interested in him last week when he scored three TDs: two rushing and one receiving. The Hawks can hurt you in so many ways it makes them a nightmare to try to defend. It’s almost like they’re testing out a different aspect of their offense each week. What will they do this week? Win by kicking 10 field goals?
Last week: beat Long Reach, 37-0. This week: at home against Mt. Hebron (2-1) Friday at 7 p.m..
2. (2) Wilde Lake (2-1)
There were two questions after Wilde Lake’s 18-12 win over Hammond: Is Hammond that good? Or has Wilde Lake taken a step back? Time will tell, and it won’t take much time. The Atholton game will be a litmus test for both teams. I think the Wildecats three-headed running game is going to gain some yardage, and some touchdowns, against the Raiders.
Last week: beat Hammond, 18-12. This week: at home against Atholton (3-0) Saturday at 2 p.m..
3. (3) Long Reach (2-1)
OK, OK, the River Hill game reminded us to take a deep breath and not start predicting a national title, but Long Reach is still a strong team that will win more games than it loses
Last week: lost to River Hill, 37-0. This week: at home against Centennial (1-2) Saturday at 1 p.m.
4. (4) Glenelg (3-0)
Of the three undefeated teams left in the county, Glenelg is the one getting the least fanfare (River Hill and Atholton are the other two). Maybe it’s because the Gladiators had their first losing season in a decade last year, or maybe it’s because River Hill is the defending state champ and Atholton has one of the county’s top recruits and a new coach. But Glenelg looks appears to be the real McCoy.
Last week: beat Howard, 28-12. This week: at Marriotts Ridge (0-3) Saturday at 1 p.m.
5. (6) Mt. Hebron (2-1)
If you want to see the ball flying through the air, go catch a Mt. Hebron game. Just how effective the passing attack will be against River Hill’s ball-hawking defensive backfield is the question. The answer could reveal what the Vikings are capable of this season.
Last week: beat Oakland Mills, 33-10. This week: at River Hill (3-0) Friday at 7 p.m.
6. (7) Atholton (3-0)
The Raiders have been impressive, defeating three solid teams and getting the job done on offense, defense and special teams. If they beat Wilde Lake, they’ll send these power rankings into disarray, but isn’t that what makes football season fun?
Last week: beat Centennial, 35-14. This week: at Wilde Lake (2-1) Saturday at 2 p.m.
7. (5) Centennial (1-2)
The Eagles take a two-spot tumble in the rankings after the loss at Atholton, but to be fair, Centennial lost starting QB Greg Edmonds in Week 1 (shoulder) and tackling robot/tireless running back Kyle Young (knee) in Week 3. The Eagles are not the same team without those guys. When Young and Edmonds get back on the field, expect them to make a run at their earlier spot.
Last week: lost to Atholton, 35-14. This week: at Long Reach (2-1) Saturday at 1 p.m.
8. (8) Howard (1-2)
The Lions didn’t win seven games last year and make the playoffs by getting lucky. Don’t be fooled by two early-season losses; this will be a team that wins its share of games.
Last week: lost to Glenelg, 28-12. This week: at Reservoir (1-2) Friday at 7 p.m.
9. (10) Reservoir (1-2)
Reservoir stepped up to not only beat fellow county newcomer Marriotts Ridge last week, but to beat the Mustangs by three touchdowns. The schedule sets up nicely for the Gators, who are home against another well matched opponent with a chance to improve to .500 and start a winning streak.
Last week: beat Marriotts Ridge, 33-13. This week: home against Howard (1-2) Friday at 7 p.m.
10. (9) Marriotts Ridge (0-3)
The Mustangs need a win to remind themselves that they played winning football each of the past two seasons, but that win is going to be hard to come by Saturday in front of their homecoming crowd against undefeated rival Glenelg.
Last week: lost to Reservoir, 33-13. This week: at home against Glenelg (3-0) Saturday at 1 p.m.
On the bubble: Hammond (0-3), Oakland Mills (0-3).
Well, the River Hill-Wilde Lake game wasn’t as close as I thought it would be, and it looks as though the Hawks are definitely still king of the hill in this county, barring a major shocker down the road. They could get a stiff test this week from Long Reach, which has won its first two games in uncomfortably close fashion. The Lightning have outstanding team speed, but I don’t think that will be enough. There have been at least two games each week that have been decided by a field goal or less, so my picks for this week’s most exciting games are Centennial at Atholton, Glenelg at Howard and Marriotts Ridge at Reservoir.
All games are Friday at 3 p.m.
What I had wrong last week: River Hill having trouble with Wilde Lake, Howard beating Atholton.
What I had right last week: Mt. Hebron’s passing game leading the Vikings to a win over Marriotts Ridge.
1. (Previous: 1) River Hill (2-0)
I knew about Kevin and Kevin (Johnson and Moore), but now they’ve got this Kluge kid doing his Ram Man impression through one of the better lines in the league. In my first look at the 2009 edition of River Hill, I was impressed by Brent Kluge; QB Harry McLaughlin; DE Nick Bonhag; John McMichael, who had a 23-yard TD run; and the Hawks’ lines.
Last week: beat Wilde Lake, 27-0. This week: at Long Reach (2-0).
2. (2) Wilde Lake (1-1)
It was clear against River Hill that the Wildecats have some growing to do with some of their new key players under their new coach, but I think they’re going to be fine. River Hill has a way of exposing weaknesses. If anything, Wilde Lake knows what to fix, and E.J. Gilman and Khalil Vierra remain a RB tandem that will hurt a lot of teams.
Last week: lost to River Hill, 27-0. This week: at Hammond (0-2).
3. (3) Long Reach (2-0)
Long Reach has been winning close games, some might say too close, but Mt. Hebron and Hammond are greatly improved from last year. And remember, the Lightning started last year with a 1-2 record and finished 7-3. It’ll be interesting to see how well they can protect their house against the defending state champs this week.
Last week: beat Hammond, 13-12. This week: at home against River Hill (2-0).
4. (4) Glenelg (2-0)
The Gladiators have all the pieces in place, but I didn’t learn much from their 32-7 win over Oakland Mills. I love the Howard matchup. I think it’ll be an outstanding contest and wish I had a teleporter device or time machine (or at least a DVD) so I could see more than one game each Friday.
Last week: beat Oakland Mills, 32-7. This week: at Howard (1-1).
5. Centennial (1-1)
Greg Edmonds’ shoulder injury ( week to week) hurts the Eagles, but backup Matt Harbinson has a strong, accurate arm and good scrambling ability. The Eagles probably will need more than the eight points they scored against Reservoir to beat Atholton, though.
Last week: beat Reservoir, 8-7. This week: at Atholton (2-0).
6. (6) Mt. Hebron (1-1)
The Vikings are the “it” team in the county right now. Their passing game — QB Clint Huber and WRs Spencer Wilkins and Mike McCarthy — is putting on an airshow every Friday night. Their running game — led by”Rowdy” Matt Gaines, fullback Jon Iwaskiw, and sophomore Donnell Smith — is holding up its end of the bargain. And the defense is looking bigger, stronger and faster than the 2008 version that allowed more than 30 points a game. This is a team I’m eager to see.
Last week: beat Marriotts Ridge, 35-20. This week: at home against Oakland Mills (0-2).
7. (8) Atholton (2-0)
A chance to start the season 3-0 after starting last season 0-3 is plenty to get the Raiders blood pumping. It’s starting to look as if the pieces are in place around Atholton’s key athletes. If the Raiders can succeed against Centennial’s formidable lines, strong running game, and relentless defense, they may be ready for the next level.
Last week: beat Howard, 15-14. This week: at home against Centennial (1-1).
8. (7) Howard (1-1)
The No. 8 team beats the No. 7 team by a missed extra point. That’s about as close as it gets, but it’s enough to swap these teams in the rankings. The Lions will have another huge challenge this week, and a chance to reassert themselves.
Last week: lost to Atholton, 15-14. This week: at home against Glenelg (2-0).
9. (9) Marriotts Ridge (0-2)
The Mustangs have had a rough start after narrowly missing the playoffs last year. I think they’ll be evenly matched with Reservoir, which will give both teams a chance to establish a foothold in the 2009 season.
Last week: lost to Mt. Hebron, 35-20. This week: at Reservoir (0-2).
10. (10) Reservoir (0-2)
The Gators looked much more like the vaunted protectors of the turf Reservoir is known for in Week 2 (eight points allowed) than they did in Week 1 (43 points allowed). With a new head coach and a lot of new players, they’re bound to get better over the course of the season.
Last week: lost to Centennial, 8-7. This week: at home against Marriotts Ridge (0-2).
On the bubble: Hammond (0-2), Oakland Mills (0-2).
I thought about putting these out before the first week’s games, but decided to wait for some head-to-head evidence. We’ve got a good one this week, with River Hill visiting Wilde Lake. My gut feeling is that these teams are much more evenly matched than they have been the last couple years. Wilde Lake has a good chance to protect its home field, but River Hill has won 29 games in a row, so I’m picking the Hawks to win a close one.
All games are Friday at 7 p.m. unless indicated.
1. River Hill (1-0)
As Ric Flair always said, “To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.” Well, no one in this county has beaten the Hawks for three years. Yes, they lost Michael Campanaro, Malek Redd, Leron Eaddy, Sean Hull and Luke Hostetler, just to name a few, but K2 (Kevin Johnson and Kevin Moore) are playmakers, and there are a bunch of other solid guys back from an undefeated state championship team. Throw in a couple transfers and a couple JV call-ups and the Hawks are in good shape to run the table in Howard County again, though some of their games might be closer than the past several seasons.
Last week: Beat Hammond, 41-6. This week: at Wilde Lake (1-0).
2. Wilde Lake (1-0)
The Wildecats lost a lot in Danny March (QB) and Jarrel Epps (RB), but E.J. Gilman, Christian Hough and Khalil Vierra might be the best trio of runners in the league. Throw in the hard-nosed defense and gritty line play and you have a well-balanced football team.
Last week: Beat Marriotts Ridge, 25-6. This week: hosts River Hill (1-0).
3. Long Reach (1-0)
This is where things get cloudy. The Lightning won their last five games in 2008 but lost a couple of huge guys on the lines. They also lost their top running back (Javaugh Walker), but got Adam Reed, who transferred from Oakland Mills. Reed has already made an impact, returning a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown against the Vikings.
Last week: Beat Mt. Hebron, 31-28 in OT. This week: at Hammond (0-1).
4. Glenelg (1-0)
Glenelg showed me something with its Week 1 overtime win. Gage Trawick (QB) makes the smart play when the game is on the line, and the combination of Colin Osborne and Shannon Maura in both the offensive and defensive backfields is a lot for any team to handle.
Last week: Beat Centennial, 21-20 in OT. This week: at Oakland Mills (0-1).
5. Centennial (0-1)
The Eagles have a strong group of returning skill players (Greg Edmonds, Kyle Young, Marcos Ocadiz) and a few tough linebackers. I think they’re going to win at least half their games.
Last week: lost to Glenelg, 21-20 in OT. This week: hosts Reservoir (0-1) Saturday at 7 p.m.
6. Mt. Hebron (0-1)
The Vikings served notice that they’re dangerous, taking Long Reach to overtime last week. The combination of Clint Huber (QB), Spencer Wilkins (WR) and Mike McCarthy (WR) gives Mt. Hebron the best long game in the league, and its defense is already looking a lot sturdier than the past couple seasons.
Last week: Lost to Long Reach, 31-28 in OT. This week: hosts Marriotts Ridge (0-1).
7. Howard (1-0)
In high school, an excellent offensive weapon can make a big difference, and A.J. Bonavitacola qualifies. The Lions also routinely get good play from their linemen and that formula should serve them well.
Last week: Beat Oakland Mills, 35-3. This week: at Atholton (1-0).
8. Atholton (1-0)
Matt Robinson, Kalvin Seamonson, Ryan Raines and company excite a lot of Raiders fans with their athleticism, but is their year of maturation enough to reverse the fortunes of a team that won only three games last year with all of them on the field? It has happened before. Color me intrigued…
Last week: Beat Reservoir, 43-21. This week: hosts Howard (1-0).
9. Marriotts Ridge (0-1)
The Mustangs were decimated by graduation, but once these new guys get up to speed they’ll be in the fight again. It’s not like they’re starting over from when the school opened four years ago.
Last week: Lost to Wilde Lake, 25-6. This week: at Mt. Hebron (0-1)
10. Reservoir (0-1)
The Gators also have a new look for 2009, with a new coach and a bunch of new players. They’ve got some fast, athletic guys but they no longer have that beast, Tim Wilman, on the lines.
Last week: Lost to Atholton, 43-21. This week: at Centennial (0-1) Saturday at 7 p.m.
On the bubble: Hammond (0-1), Oakland Mills (0-1).
Last month I reported that Eldersburg’s Mark “TNT” Tucker would be fighting for the USBO Light Heavyweight title Sept. 25. At the time, there was no word on whom he would be fighting.
It will be Jim “Steel Chin” Strohl, whose chin doesn’t appear to be as strong at age 38. He has lost his last four matches, three by knockout or technical knockout.
Strohl, who was born in Decatur, Ill., and boxes out of Las Vegas, is 27-7 with 21 knockouts.
Tucker’s career track is still on the way up. He is 11-0 with seven knockouts and is ranked 20th in the U.S. and 54th in the world.
Earlier this summer I reported that former Wilde Lake star Dane Randolph was selected as a free agent by the Green Bay Packers. Now that Randolph was an NFL player, I was preparing to be “big timed” by the big man going into the story I was preparing to write.
If I had been around to cover Dane when he was in high school, I would have known that he’s not that type, no matter what jersey he’s wearing. Not only did Randolph agree to talk, he met me at Wilde Lake to get his picture taken and did an extensive interview, smiling and laughing the whole time. I left Wilde Lake that day thinking, “That’s one of the good guys…”
I found myself checking each round of Packers’ cuts and rooting for Randolph to make the team. My father, who grew up in Wisconsin and doesn’t follow sports much except for Howard County products, could finally ditch his unusual Brett Favre fixation in favor of Great Dane.
Unfortunately, quality of character doesn’t always rate a spot on an NFL team. After practicing with the team for more than a month, Randolph was released by the Packers last Saturday in the last round of cuts before the NFL regular season.
“I was told by my agent … that I can catch another opportunity with another team anytime during the season by having a free-agent workout with them. As of now I’m just going to stay in shape and work on the things I need to do to improve my game. From being out there I know I definitely have the talent, I just need the opportunity with a team,” Randolph told me in an e-mail on Wednesday.
It’s too bad things didn’t work out with the Packers. But whichever team does end up investing in Randolph won’t be sorry.
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.