First things first: All games this week will be played on Thursday because of Yom Kippur. I wouldn't want anyone showing up to a field Friday night all excited for football only to see some joggers and dogwalkers putting in their work.
Well, last week we said (or I said) that the “contenders would separate themselves,” and they sure did, as No. 3 River Hill and No. 8 Reservoir soundly beat a pair of solid teams in Wilde Lake and Mt. Hebron.
The Hawks (3-2) and Gators (2-3) won by a combined score of 80-0 to emphatically state that they are not giving up on the playoffs.
Perhaps the biggest statement of the week came from Glenelg, though, which upset defending county and region champ Hammond, 17-14, in a battle of unbeatens. Glenelg, now the last undefeated team in the league, will take on Long Reach, the highest-scoring offense in the league by more than four points a game, in the Game of the Week.
The second most intriguing matchup is Howard (4-1) at River Hill (3-2), which is fresh off of its drubbing of Wilde Lake and hoping to get back on track after a two-game skid.
Both of those games have important playoff implications, so click here to check the lay of the land. (Top four teams in each region advance to the postseason.)
Glenelg is tied for the lead with Patuxent in the 2A South while Long Reach sits in sixth, hoping to get back into the playoff picture with a win this week.
The 3A East is all Howard County, with Atholton, Hammond, Howard and River Hill in the top spots, and Stephen Decatur lurking in the fifth spot just a few points behind.
Onto the rankings!
(Last week’s ranking in parentheses)
1. (1.) Atholton (4-1, 159-27)
The Raiders have outscored their opponents by more than 26 points per game — more than twice as much as any other team — and they’ve played three top-five teams along with Reservoir, which is on its way up. So, come on, what else can you say? They're running on all cylinders.
Wins: Howard (28-7), River Hill (14-0), Reservoir (24-14), Marriotts Ridge (54-6); Losses: Glenelg (FF).
Last week: Beat Marriotts Ridge, 54-6. This week: home against Oakland Mills, Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
2. (4.) Glenelg (5-0, 120-75)
Glenelg has made more of an upward movement than any other team, jumping from No. 8 in the preseason rankings (whatever those were worth) to No. 2. The challenge will be staying there with the large target on its back and four competitive teams left on its schedule.
W: Atholton (FF), Centennial (34-0), Wilde Lake (28-8), Oakland Mills (41-14), Hammond (17-14). L: None.
Last week: Beat Hammond, 17-14. This week: at Long Reach, Thursday at 7 p.m.
3. (2.) Hammond (4-1, 112-58)
After coming away with a win in seven straight games decided by eight points or less, the Golden Bears were bound to slip up eventually, and it came last week against Glenelg. This week's game at winless Marriotts Ridge won’t be that close.
W: Wilde Lake (16-12), Mt. Hebron (36-13), Centennial (34-7), River Hill (12-9); L: Glenelg (17-14).
Last week: Lost to Glenelg, 17-14. This week: at Marriotts Ridge, Thursday at 7 p.m.
4. (3.) River Hill (3-2, 110-47)
The Hawks seem to be coming out of the woods after last week’s shutout of defending state champ Wilde Lake, but they lost to Hammond, which lost to Glenelg, so this is where they are. They’ll get a chance to play Glenelg on Oct. 28.
W: Reservoir (28-7), Long Reach (35-14), Wilde Lake (38-0); L: Atholton (14-0), Hammond (12-9).
Last week: Beat Wilde Lake, 38-0. This week: home against Howard, Thursday at 7 p.m.
5. (6.) Howard (4-1, 148-87)
It was kind of a lackluster performance for Howard against an improving Oakland Mills. The Lions will need to be sharp to hand River Hill a third loss, which would be devestating for the Hawks and a huge boost for the Lions.
W: Centennial (41-0), Mt. Hebron (35-7), Long Reach (38-37), Oakland Mills (27-15); L: Atholton (28-7).
Last week: Beat Oakland Mills (27-15). This week: at River Hill, Thursday at 7 p.m.
6. (7.) Long Reach (3-2, 180-128)
The Lightning will get a chance this week to prove that its dynamic offense can put up points on any defense it comes across. I’ve also heard that Long Reach has a new private school transfer who could help shore up the defense.
W: Marriotts Ridge (55-14), Reservoir (32-20), Centennial (42-21); L: River Hill (35-14), Howard (38-37).
Last week: Beat Centennial, 42-21. This week: home against Glenelg, Thursday at 7 p.m.
7. (5.) Wilde Lake (2-3, 100-101)
The Wildecats didn’t have to beat River Hill to salvage their season, but something other than being shut out, 38-0, might have inspired more hope. Things aren’t looking good for a return to the playoffs. However, the banner in the gym still says "2010 State Champions."
W: Oakland Mills (40-7), Marriotts Ridge (40-12); L: Hammond (16-12), Glenelg (28-8), River Hill (38-0).
Last week: Lost to River Hill, 38-0. This week: at Mt. Hebron, Thursday at 6 p.m.
8. (8.) Reservoir (2-3, 132-90)
Look at the Gators’ losses and you’ll see three respectable scores against some of the top teams in the league. Look at their wins and you’ll see dominance. Reservoir has a Division I prospect at quarterback, size on the lines, and talent on offense and defense. Like a Gator in a swamp, they’re just waiting for a higher-ranked team — Glenelg (Oct. 14), Howard (Oct. 28) or Wilde Lake (Nov. 4) — to walk by so they can strike.
W: Marriotts Ridge (49-6), Mt. Hebron (42-0); L: River Hill (28-7), Long Reach (32-20), Atholton (24-14).
Last week: Beat Mt. Hebron, 42-0. This week: home against Centennial, Thursday at 3 p.m.
9. (9.) Mt. Hebron (2-3, 67-127)
The Vikings were flying high after beating rival Centennial on a last-second TD two weeks ago, but they took a step back against Reservoir. Meanwhile, Wilde Lake will be looking for a bounce-back performance.
W: Oakland Mills (26-0), Centennial (21-14); L: Hammond (36-13), Howard (35-7), Reservoir (42-0).
Last week: Lost to Reservoir, 42-0. This week: home against Wilde Lake, Thursday at 6 p.m.
10. (10.) Oakland Mills (1-4, 63-154)
The Scorpions have gotten much better since the season began, and I bet they’d like another shot at Mt. Hebron — which they lost to on opening night, 26-0 — because I don’t see any obvious wins coming up on their tough second-half schedule.
W: Marriotts Ridge (27-20); L: Mt. Hebron (26-0), Wilde Lake (40-7), Glenelg (41-14), Howard (27-15).
Last week: Lost to Howard, 27-15. This week: at Atholton, Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
On the bubble: Centennial (0-5, 42-172), Marriotts Ridge (0-5, 58-225).
1. Long Reach, 180 points scored
2. Atholton, 159
3. Howard, 148
4. Reservoir, 132
5. Glenelg, 120
6. Hammond, 112
7. River Hill, 110
8. Wilde Lake, 100
9. Mt. Hebron, 67
10. Oakland Mills, 63
11. Marriotts Ridge, 58
12. Centennial, 42
1. Atholton, 27 points allowed
2. River Hill, 47
3. Hammond, 58
4. Glenelg, 75
5. Howard, 87
6. Reservoir, 90
7. Wilde Lake, 101
8. Mt. Hebron, 127
9. Long Reach, 128
10. Oakland Mills, 154
11. Centennial, 172
12. Marriotts Ridge, 225
1. Atholton, +132
2. River Hill, +63
3. Howard, +61
4. Hammond, +54
5. Long Reach, +52
6. Glenelg, +45
7. Reservoir, +42
8. Wilde Lake, -1
9. Mt. Hebron, -60
10. Oakland Mills, -91
11. Centennial, -130
12. Marriotts Ridge, -167