Howard County Football Power Rankings: Week 8

Finally, a little bit of action in the rankings, It's Week 8, but believe it or not, up until now we haven't had any ranking conflicts. That is when team A beats team B, then team B beats team C, but then team C  makes everything confusing by beating team A, creating a common opponent circle.

In this example, Reservoir is team C. The Gators' upset of previously undefeated Glenelg last week sent seismic waves throughout the county.

Reservoir had lost to River Hill, which lost to Hammond, which lost to Glenelg, which lost to Reservoir. Confused? Me too. So I'll just simplify things by saying this: some teams losses get thrown out, and the rankings are now based on recent performance, scoring differential, and gut feeling in addition to the most important criteria, head-to-head results and common opponents.

At least there will be a little suspense when reading this week's rankings. SPOILER ALERT: Reservoir gets a boost from the No. 7 spot, though not all the way to No. 1, and Glenelg takes a tumble from the No. 2 spot, though not all the way to No. 8.

This week will be a busy one for Saturday homecoming games, with three really good ones (Atholton at Wilde Lake, Howard at Glenelg and Hammond at Long Reach) on the schedule. So rake those leaves early and enjoy some great football while you can!

That would have been a nice segue into the meat of the rankings, but instead I'm going to give the playoff situation a quick look.

Glenelg's loss dropped it into a tie with Patuxent (6-1) atop the 2A South rankings, and the Gladiators have two tough games coming up with Howard and River Hill. The fourth seed, Gwynn Park, is 5-2 though, so barring a major meltdown, the Gladiators should still be OK for November football. Long Reach, on the other hand, has to pretty much win out against Hammond, Wilde Lake and Oakland Mills to climb out of the No. 7 spot and clinch a playoff berth.

In the 3A East, Atholton, River Hill and Hammond are sitting pretty comfortably in the top three spots, while Howard (5.57), Reservoir (4.86) and Wilde Lake (4.14) all have some hope of catching Stephen Decatur (5.71) for the fourth and final playoff spot, but each of those three county teams have tough schedules over the last three weeks.

Phew! OK, now onto the rankings.

(Last week's ranking in parentheses)

1. (1.) Atholton (6-1, 255 points-55 points allowed)

That win against Reservoir looks even better now, doesn't it? Kenny Thomas and Brian McMahon showed that Atholton can run the ball as good as any team in the county last Friday at Hammond. And while the defense — still the best in the league — allowed a season high 21 points and missed some tackles, it was playing against Devon Paye, a legit DI running back. If the Raiders can get past Wilde Lake this week, a share of the county title and home field advantage in the playoffs will be almost academic.

Wins: Howard (28-7), River Hill (14-0), Reservoir (24-14), Marriotts Ridge (54-6), Oakland Mills (56-7), Hammond (40-21); Losses: Glenelg (FF).
Last week: Beat Hammond, 40-21. This week: at Wilde Lake, Saturday at 1 p.m.

2. (4.) River Hill (5-2, 211-60)

I'm not ignoring the loss to Hammond, but you have to consider that the Hawks turned the ball over six times in that game and lost by three points.  Akili Moore's 100-yard interception return was impressive, but River Hill probably won't turn the ball over six times again this season, or ever. Since that loss they've outscored three opponents 139-13, and have the third best offense and second best defense in the league.

W: Reservoir (28-7), Long Reach (35-14), Wilde Lake (38-0), Howard (42-7), Oakland Mills (59-6); L: Atholton (14-0), Hammond (12-9).
Last week: Beat Oakland Mills, 59-6. This week: at Centennial, Friday at 7 p.m.

3. (3.) Hammond (5-2, 168-98)

For all of the attention paid, and deservedly so, to Devon Paye and Dionte Jones as offensive weapons, Hammond's defense has actually been the sharper unit this season. Just ignore the 40 points they allowed last week. The Golden Bears have allowed only 14 points per game on average, and are one of only three teams — along with Atholton and River Hill, to allow less than 100 points this season. The offense, meanwhile, has scored only 24 points per game, seventh in the league. They may need to score more than that this week at Long Reach in what could be an offensive bonanza.

W: Wilde Lake (16-12), Mt. Hebron (36-13), Centennial (34-7), River Hill (12-9), Marriotts Ridge (35-0); L: Glenelg (17-14), Atholton (40-21).
Last week: Lost to Atholton, 40-21. This week: at Long Reach, Saturday at 2 p.m.

4. (7.) Reservoir (4-3, 185-103)

To the victor go the spoils. In college and NFL power rankings, one team beating another does not necessarily correlate to where they stand in relation to each other. For example, when the Ravens lost to the Titans in week two, no one outside of Tennessee was clamoring for the Titans to leapfrog the Ravens. But high school is different. There are only 12 teams, and the season is only ten weeks long. Reservoir beat Glenelg on the field, and there's no way I could rank Glenelg ahead of Reservoir a week later. Besides, the Gators have the third best point differential (+11.7 ppg) in the league.

W: Marriotts Ridge (49-6), Mt. Hebron (42-0), Centennial (34-0), Glenelg (19-13 OT); L: River Hill (28-7), Long Reach (32-20), Atholton (24-14).
Last week: Beat Glenelg, 19-13 OT. This week: at Oakland Mills, Saturday at 2 p.m.

5. (2.) Glenelg (6-1, 156-114)

After winning two games in a row by three points, the Gladiators were walking a tightrope. They're a well-rounded, well-coached, fundamentally sound team that's been winning games by playing tough and not making a bunch of mistakes. But when you're only outscoring opponents by six points per game, on average, the margin for error is slim, and it finally caught them last Friday. Still, a win over Howard Saturday in the quest for the Elgard trophy can get them back on track heading into a huge week 9 showdown with River Hill.

W: Atholton (FF), Centennial (34-0), Wilde Lake (28-8), Oakland Mills (41-14), Hammond (17-14), Long Reach (23-20). L: Reservoir, 19-13 OT.
Last week: Lost to Reservoir, 19-13 OT. This week: home against Howard, Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

6. (6.) Long Reach (4-3, 226-157)

The Lightning's offense has slowed down a little bit of late, if scoring 46 points in two games can be called slow, but conversely, the defense has improved steadily since allowing 38 points to Howard in late September. If they can put it all together on Saturday's homecoming game against Hammond,  they could be in line for a big upset.

W: Marriotts Ridge (55-14), Reservoir (32-20), Centennial (42-21), Mt. Hebron (26-6); L: River Hill (35-14), Howard (38-37), Glenelg (23-20).
Last week: Beat Mt. Hebron, 26-6. This week: home against Hammond, Saturday at 1 p.m.

7. (5.) Howard (5-2, 188-136)

The Lions are an above average team, and considering the competitiveness of the county this year, thats says something. Above average certainly isn't what the coaches and players are striving for, though. The Lions are the most overlooked 5-win team in the county, but they won't be anymore if they can upset Glenelg for the Elgard trophy this weekend.

W: Centennial (41-0), Mt. Hebron (35-7), Long Reach (38-37), Oakland Mills (27-15), Marriotts Ridge (33-7); L: Atholton (28-7), River Hill (42-7).
Last week: Beat Marriotts Ridge, 33-7. This week: at Glenelg, Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

8. (8.) Wilde Lake (4-3, 172-101)

The Wildecats haven't quite been able to recapture the magic that propelled them to the 3A state title last year, and now even the postseason is a longshot. But they could make a little noise over the final weeks by knocking off Atholton, Long Reach or Reservoir.

W: Oakland Mills (40-7), Marriotts Ridge (40-12), Mt. Hebron (42-0), Centennial (30-0); L: Hammond (16-12), Glenelg (28-8), River Hill (38-0).
Last week: Beat Centennial, 30-0. This week: home against Atholton, Saturday at 1 p.m.

9. (9.) Mt. Hebron (2-5, 73-195)

Holding Long Reach's high-powered offense to only 26 points should be considered a minor accomplishment. But the rift between the top eight teams and the bottom four is still massive. That being said, Mt. Hebron is clearly the best of the bottom four, and they'll get to display that on Friday night at Marriotts Ridge.

W: Oakland Mills (26-0), Centennial (21-14); L: Hammond (36-13), Howard (35-7), Reservoir (42-0), Wilde Lake (42-0), Long Reach (26-6).
Last week: Lost to Long Reach, 26-6. This week: at Marriotts Ridge, Friday at 7 p.m.

10. (10.) Oakland Mills (1-6, 76-269)

The Scorpions defense has to be getting tired. Over the past two weeks, Oakland Mills has faced two of the top offenses in the league — Atholton and River Hill, both on the road — and been torched for 115 points. Atholton's 56 points and River Hill's 59 are the two highest scoring outputs recorded this season by any team. Over the final three weeks, the Scorpions face Reservoir (26.4 points per game), Long Reach (32.3) and Hammond (24). This might not be pretty.

W: Marriotts Ridge (27-20); L: Mt. Hebron (26-0), Wilde Lake (40-7), Glenelg (41-14), Howard (27-15), Atholton (56-7), River Hill (59-6).
Last week: Lost to River Hill, 59-6. This week: home against Reservoir, Saturday at 2 p.m.

On the bubble: Centennial (0-7, 42-236), Marriotts Ridge (0-7, 65-293).

1. Atholton, 255 points scored
2. Long Reach, 226
3. River Hill, 211
4. Howard, 188
5. Reservoir, 185
6. Wilde Lake, 172
7. Hammond, 168
8. Glenelg, 156
9. Oakland Mills, 76
10. Mt. Hebron, 73
11. Marriotts Ridge, 65
12. Centennial, 42

1. Atholton, 55 points allowed
2. River Hill, 60
3. Hammond, 98
4. Wilde Lake, 101
5. Reservoir, 103
6. Glenelg, 114
7. Howard, 136
8. Long Reach, 157
9. Mt. Hebron, 195
10. Centennial, 236
11. Oakland Mills, 269
12. Marriotts Ridge, 293

1. Atholton, +200 (28.6 per game)
2. River Hill, +151 (21.6)
3. Reservoir, +82 (11.7)
4. Wilde Lake, +71 (10.1)
5. Hammond, +70 (10.0)
6. Long Reach, +69 (9.9)
7. Howard, +52 (7.4)
8. Glenelg, +42 (6.0)
9. Mt. Hebron, -122 (-17.4)
10. Oakland Mills, -193 (-27.6)
11. Centennial, -194 (-27.7)
12. Marriotts Ridge, -228 (-32.6)

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