No upsets in the first round of the playoffs, so no need to update the power rankings. Phew…
Atholton plays at River Hill Friday night at 7 for the 3A East regional championship. It’s supposed to be chilly and partly cloudy, with no rain.
I’ve already previewed this game for the paper, but now I’ll do it for the blog-o-sphere, which allows me to shoot from the hip and be a little more conversational, and a little more stat heavy (no space limitations online).
So who is going to win? River Hill has won 39 games in a row, so you won’t find this prognosticator picking against the Hawks. Then again, this is high school football and Atholton led 14-7 at halftime of their regular-season encounter, which River Hill won, 35-14.
That said, Atholton scored twice on touchdowns of 90 and 80 yards from Kalvin Seamonson to Matt Robinson in that game. Something tells me that the River Hill secondary has been working especially hard this week on making sure that doesn’t happen again. Hawks coach Brian Van Deusen does expect them to try, however.
“I’m sure they’re going to come out and try that again, when you’ve got a kid like Matt Robinson you’ve got to,” he said.
Passing the ball is exciting, but what Atholton is really going to have to do to change the outcome is run the ball, and stop River Hill from running. The Raiders did neither last time, as River Hill outscored them 28-0 in the second half.
Oddly enough, Atholton has scored exactly 14 points in four of its last five games, including last Friday’s 14-13 playoff victory over Wilde Lake. The Raiders have scored at least two touchdowns and two extra points in every game this season. River Hill has scored at least four touchdowns in every game this season (and 10 last game — a 70-0 thrashing of J.M. Bennett).
I think the Atholton defense is going to fight off the River Hill running game a little better than last time and hold the Hawks to four touchdowns. I think that Atholton is going to score twice again, maybe even three times. But I still see River Hill winning this game by two or three touchdowns.
For those who like stats with their picks, here’s a statistical breakdown:
River Hill (11-0)
Points scored: 474 (43.1 per game). Points allowed: 72 (6.55).
Points scored: 284 (25.8). Points allowed: 179 (16.3).
Atholton’s leading rushers
Andrew King: 826 yards, 142 attempts (5.8 per carry), 7 touchdowns.
Kalvin Seamonson: 394, 60, (6.6), 8.
Anthony Ernest: 312, 58 (5.4), 0.
Kendall Newsome: 296, 62 (4.8), 2.
Team: 358, 2,099 (5.9), 17.
River Hill’s leading rushers
Kevin Johnson: 106, 1,055 (10.0), 15.
Brent Kluge: 111, 955 (8.6), 7.
John McMichael: 35, 301 (8.6), 5.
Jordan Griffin: 24, 260 (10.8), 3.
Team: 431, 3,481 (8.1), 53.
Atholton’s leading passer
Kalvin Seamonson: 79 completions, 157 attempts (50.3 percent), 1,309 yards, 16 touchdowns.
River Hill’s leading passer
Harry McLaughlin: 26, 50 (50.2), 458, 9.
Atholton’s leading receivers
Matt Robinson: 39 catches, 792 yards (20.3 per catch), 9 touchdowns.
Adam D’Amico: 9, 181 (20.1), 4.
Curtis Pumphrey: 10, 141 (14.1), 0.
Team: 79, 1,309 (16.6), 16.
River Hill’s leading receivers
Kevin Johnson: 11, 227 (20.6), 3.
Nick Bonhag: 7, 67 (9.6), 3.
Jeremy Ogorzalek: 3, 90 (30.0), 2.
Team: 26, 458 (17.6), 9.
Atholton’s leading tacklers
Steve Whiting: 77
Matt Robinson: 73
Zach Deal: 71
River Hill’s leading tacklers
Wayne Emerson: 104.
Jordan Griffin: 92.
Brent Kluge: 83.
Brian Anthony: 4
Matt Robinson: 4
Zach Deal: 4
River Hill’s sacks
Thomas Erdman: 9.
Brent Kluge: 6.5
Nick Bonhag: 6.
Curtis Pumphrey: 2
Adam D’Amico: 2
River Hill’s interceptions
John McMichael: 4
Kevin Johnson: 3
Four teams in the playoffs, can’t complain with that, eh? I guess Long Reach could have hoped to get in with a 6-4 record, but the Lightning is in a very tough region. Unfortunately, only three of the four playoff teams can possibly hope to advance since Wilde Lake plays at Atholton in the first round. The winner of that game wins a trip to River Hill (assuming the Hawks beat J.M. Bennett, which I am) next week for the regional championship game.
This will likely be the last edition of the Power Rankings as I switch over to a ‘previewing the playoff games’ format for the final weeks.
What I had wrong last week: Atholton and Glenelg each scoring three times (they each scored twice). Glenelg kicking a chip-shot field goal (they almost lined up, but then went for it and got the touchdown!).
What I had right last week: Atholton keeping its streak of 14-point games alive and winning. Howard’s defense propelling it to a win over Mt. Hebron.
All games are Friday at 7 p.m.
1. (Previous: 1.) River Hill (10-0, 404 points scored-72 points allowed)
I think I’ve run out of ways to describe how good River Hill is, so I’ll just say this: They’re going to beat J.M. Bennett and play the winner of the Atholton-Wilde Lake game next week. I’ve outlined the reasons here. I don’t know a whole lot about Bennett, but I’m going to act irresponsible and say the Hawks win by four or five touchdowns.
Last week: beat Centennial (4-6), 41-21. This week: at home against No. 4 J.M. Bennett (6-4) in a 3A East semifinal.
2. (2.) Atholton (9-1, 270-166)
Another gutsy showing in a 14-13 win over Glenelg last week. The Raiders have played four games decided by a touchdown or less, and they’ve won them all. That’s a good sign for this week, because it’s going to be a close game with Wilde Lake. The first time they played this season the teams combined for 64 points (Atholton won, 34-30). This time it’s probably going to be a similar game to last week, when Atholton beat Glenelg by an extra point. It looks like a pick-’em game, but I’m going with Atholton because of the Raiders’ track record in close contests and their more explosive offense.
Last week: beat Glenelg (8-2), 14-13. This week: at home against No. 3 Wilde Lake (7-3) in a 3A East semifinal.
3. (3.) Glenelg (8-2, 225-148)
What a classic that was last week with Atholton. I hope Glenelg can keep it that close with Douglass. Coach Butch Schaffer says the Gladiators will need to play a flawless game to win, but I think that might be a bit of an exaggeration. Glenelg is a well balanced team. The Gladiators are fourth in the league in scoring and third in points allowed. Douglass has shut out six of its 10 opponents and have a talented running back named Emmanuel Paul. I don’t know about this one, but Glenelg’s home-field advantage might help.
Last week: lost to Atholton (9-1), 14-13. This week: at home against No. 3 Douglass (8-2) in a 2A South semifinal.
4. (4.) Wilde Lake (7-3, 212-119)
Wilde Lake has allowed more than two touchdowns only twice this season, and only River Hill has allowed fewer points (119-72). Atholton is going to test the Wildecats, though. The Raiders have scored at least two touchdowns in every game. It’s going to come down to how effectively the Wilde Lake rushing attack can move the ball without stalling or turning it over.
Last week: beat Reservoir (3-7), 28-7. This week: at No. 2 Atholton (9-1) in a 3A East semifinal.
5. (5.) Long Reach (6-4, 182-156)
A big fish in the county, but just below the big four. The Lightning had a strong running game (as evidenced by their three 100-yard rushers in Week 10), but the offense stalled in weeks 7-9 (no coincidence: the Lightning played Atholton, Glenelg and Wilde Lake and scored a total of 14 points). That stretch contributed to them scoring only the 10th-most points in the league this season.
Last week: beat Oakland Mills (1-9), 34-0.
6. (8.) Howard (5-5, 215-160)
The Lions were capable of a playoff run, but, like some others, got derailed midway through the season. A solid, well balanced team.
Last week: beat Mt. Hebron (4-6), 28-14.
7. (6.) Mt. Hebron (4-6, 239-307)
The Vikings were an interesting team to watch. Just about every team in the league had trouble stopping their field-stretching passing attack, but they had trouble stopping just about every team in the league (they gave up more than 30 points a game).
Last week: lost to Howard (5-5), 28-14.
8. (7.) Centennial (4-6, 221-263)
Centennial was stronger defensively than Mt. Hebron, but the Eagles lost to Mt. Hebron on the field, and that’s what matters. I still wonder what might have happened this season if quarterback Greg Edmonds didn’t go down with that shoulder injury in Week 1 (an overtime loss to Glenelg). The Eagles did beat Howard, but also lost to Mt. Hebron, which lost to Howard, so you see my predicament.
Last week: lost to River Hill (10-0), 41-21.
9. (9.) Reservoir (3-7, 197-227)
A good team, with some talented players. The Gators were in the upper-lower tier of the county this year, but they’ve got something to build on with some solid players coming back and some consistency building in the coaching staff.
Last week: Lost to Wilde Lake (7-3), 28-7.
10. (10.) Hammond (3-7, 183-230)
The Bears made big strides this year, winning more games than they have in three years. Next year they need more depth, so they don’t nose-dive after a few injuries.
Last week: beat Marriotts Ridge (0-10), 32-21.
On the bubble: Marriotts Ridge (0-10, 94-367), Oakland Mills (1-9, 97-331).
What the heck? It’s already week 10? Well, I guess that time waits for no man. It’s been a great season, and I’ve had a lot of fun spending the fall Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons out on the football fields. We’ve watched Atholton go from being a scuffling, 3-7 team to one of county’s best, River Hill continue its unprecedented dominance, Hammond and Oakland Mills end long losing streaks under new coaches, and we’ve sadly seen the seasons of several of the county’s most talented players end too early.
Savor this last week of the regular season, but also get ready for the playoffs. We should have a healthy four teams representing the county, including three in the 3A East alone.
Last week, Atholton and River Hill brought 8-0 records into what amounted to the county championship game, but we’re not done with big showdowns just yet. Glenelg (8-1) at Atholton (8-1) Friday night is shaping up to be an outstanding game.
Atholton has scored at least 14 points in every game, even against River Hill’s league-best defense, so I don’t see that streak coming to an end, even against the Gladiators’ sturdy D. The Raiders are averaging 28 points a game.
I think Atholton will score 21 points, maybe 28 if they score on special teams or defense, and Glenelg’s running game — with a healthy sprinkling of passes — will churn out 17 or 18 with a chip-shot field goal.
Howard (4-5) at Mt. Hebron (4-5) is another good matchup between teams trying to break even, and Marriotts Ridge (0-9) travels to struggling Hammond (2-7) with hopes of not finishing empty-handed.
Centennial pulled off its second upset in a row, this time over Howard, and without their MVP, Kyle Young. I was surprised by that outcome, but Howard has been dealing with a lot of injuries, and I did have Centennial in the fifth spot in the first edition of these rankings (I also had Atholton eighth, but I’d rather not talk about that…)
What I had wrong last week: Oakland Mills beating Marriotts Ridge by a touchdown (the Scorpions won by a field goal, 16-13). Reservoir winning 21-15 (The Gators exploded in the fourth quarter to beat Hammond, 34-12. (I should have known Hammond never goes for PATs or FGs anyway, so 15 was a bad guess.)
What I had right last week: Atholton scoring a couple touchdowns, but River Hill winning by two or maybe three (the Hawks won, 35-14). Wilde Lake over Long Reach.
All games are Friday at 7 p.m.
1. (Previous: 1.) River Hill (9-0, 363 points scored-51 points allowed)
It’s a whole new Hawks team, with all these new guys (Kluge, McLaughlin, Johnson, etc.) but somehow it all seems so familiar, doesn’t it? Great lines — led by Erdman, Bonhag and Coale – keep the ship on course. I don’t see a weakness yet, but the competition might jump up a notch after the first couple rounds of the playoffs. The Hawks have scored over 100 points more than any other county team, and allowed 60 less.
Last week: beat Atholton (8-1), 35-14. This week: at Centennial (4-5)
2. (2.) Atholton (8-1, 256-153)
Eight wins in a row wasn’t a bad start for Kyle Schmitt and the 2009 Raiders, but now we’ll have to see how they bounce back from a loss against a tough opponent in Glenelg. River Hill pointed out a couple areas for improvement: the running game (though losing Andrew King at halftime didn’t help) and stopping the run (though losing Brian Anthony at halftime didn’t help). Both players could be back this week, and definitely for the playoffs.
Last week: lost to River Hill (9-0), 35-14. This week: at home against Glenelg (8-1)
3. (3.) Glenelg (8-1, 212-134)
The Gladiators aren’t flashy, they just play hard and clean and go about their business. It would be hard to differentiate between their demeanor last year when they went 4-6, and this year, when they could go 9-1. Howard County’s only representative in the 2A South is balanced and built for a playoff run.
Last week: beat Mt. Hebron (4-5), 37-20. This week: at Atholton (8-1)
4. (4.) Wilde Lake (6-3, 184-112)
It was looking shaky in September when the ‘08 state finalists were 2-2. But looking back, the Wildecats held River Hill to its lowest-scoring total of the season in a 27-0 loss, and they went toe-to-toe with Atholton in a 34-30 loss. Their only other loss is to Glenelg by an extra point. There is clearly a Big Four in the county, and Wilde Lake is very much a part of it. The Wildecats have a strong defense, allowing more points in the loss to Atholton than they have in the five games since (33).
Last week: beat Hammond (2-7), 34-12. This week: at at home against Reservoir (3-6)
5. (5.) Long Reach (5-4, 148-156)
The Lightning have faltered in the stretch against the three teams just ahead of them, losing to Atholton, Glenelg and Wilde Lake. They scored a total of 14 points in those games, and have been outscored on the season, 148-156. Nine teams in the league have scored more points. On the bright side, the defense hasn’t given up more than two touchdowns since Sept. 18 (37 to River Hill). The game against Oakland Mills appears to be the perfect remedy, but it could be a trap game — it’s in the Scorpions’ nest, they’re coming off their first win in 16 chances, and they’d love to beat former teammates Damon Daniels and Adam Reed, who play for the Lightning.
Last week: lost to Wilde Lake (6-3), 16-7. This week: at Oakland Mills (1-8)
6. (7.) Mt. Hebron (4-5, 225-279)
When a team scores four touchdowns a game but also allows four, it’s hard to figure out just what’s going to happen week to week. Sometimes the Vikings will win a high-scoring game by two points or lose it by three points. Sometimes the offense will stall and the defense won’t be able to keep the Vikings in the game. Mt. Hebron beat Centennial and Centennial beat Howard, so the Vikings should be ahead of Howard right? All these 4-5 teams are in the same boat, and I’ve just got to make a judgment call.
Last week: lost to Glenelg (8-1), 37-20. This week: at home against Howard (4-5)
7. (8.) Centennial (4-5, 200-222)
In these last two weeks the Eagles have finally started showing what they’re capable of, beating Hammond and Howard. But without Kyle Young, who unfortunately tore his knee last week, their already long odds against River Hill got even longer. Any logic you can figure out for putting Centennial, Howard and Mt. Hebron in order – head-to-head, head, common opponent, points scored-points allowed — won’t hold up. Now watch as Howard beats Mt. Hebron to muddle the picture even more.
Last week: beat Howard (4-5), 28-22. This week: at home against River Hill (9-0)
8. (6.) Howard (4-5, 187-146)
The Lions have taken a step back since their strong performance against River Hill (30-15 loss) and subsequent two-game winning streak in October. Injuries haven’t helped, but it seems like every county team has been bitten at some point. The Lions’ defense is much better than Mt. Hebron’s, and I think that will propel them to a win against the Vikings. That and A.J. Bonavitacola might get back on the field for the final game of his high school career.
Last week: lost to Centennial (4-5), 28-22. This week: at Mt. Hebron (4-5)
9. (10.) Reservoir (3-6, 190-199)
The Gators have had a frustrating season, and they used Hammond as a punching bag in the fourth quarter last Saturday. While they were scoring three touchdowns, they looked really good moving the ball with QB Andy Bushong running the option, RBs Jimmy Thomas, Robby Greer and Chris Morris carrying the ball, and Bryce Boring catching passes. Wilde Lake will have to earn this win (and the Wildecats will).
Last week: beat Hammond (2-7), 34-12. This week: at Wilde Lake (6-3)
10. (9.) Hammond (2-7, 151-209)
I watched Hammond beat Oakland Mills and Mt. Hebron, and I watched the Bears lose badly to Howard and Reservoir. I saw two different teams. The Bears got a little banged up and they didn’t have the depth to overcome that. Now it’s late in the season and they’re wearing down. I think they’ve got enough left in the tank to overcome an even worse off Marriotts Ridge team – thanks to players like Matt Stephenson, Christian James and Anton Haynes leading the way. But it’s going to be close.
Last week: lost to Reservoir (3-6), 34-12. This week: at home against Marriotts Ridge (0-9)
On the bubble: Marriotts Ridge (0-9, 73-335), Oakland Mills (1-8, 97-297)
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.