So that's it, huh? The 2011 regular season is over, just like that. It's been a fun ride, with Atholton emerging as the dominant team in Howard County, River Hill rebounding from two early season setbacks to finish near the top, Glenelg surprising almost everyone, Long Reach's high-powered offense putting on a show just about every week, Howard being consistent, steady old Howard, Hammond and Reservoir starting off strong but faltering down the stretch and Wilde Lake struggling through a bit of a state championship hangover (figuratively of course). Mt. Hebron, Centennial, Marriotts Ridge and Oakland Mills also played football this fall.
I'm not too proud to take a peek back at my predictions from before the season started, so what do you say we have a go?
Here's how I ranked the teams in the first edition (before any games were played).
1. River Hill
4. Wilde Lake
6. Long Reach
9. Oakland Mills
10. Mt. Hebron
12. Marriotts Ridge
(cue the "Price Is Right" fail sound effect)
Boy is my face red. What a hot mess. Aside from the bottom four (which aren't even in the right order), I didn't get a single team in its correct position, and I was way off on Glenelg, Hammond and Wilde Lake. Everyone else is about two spots off of where they ended up.
Ahh, the mistakes of our youth.
Anyway, I thought that would be fun to take a little look back. Now, let's take a look ahead.
The season isn't yet over for Atholton, Glenelg, Howard and River Hill, which all have playoff games coming up on Friday. I'd like to preview those games in a little more depth, so check back Friday morning for a separate, special edition, deluxe, playoff preview blog.
Onto the final 2011 Howard County Football Power Rankings!
(I'm not going to update these if there are any upsets in the playoffs, but I will make a big deal out of it in my coverage, and maybe come back and add a footnote to these rankings.)
(Last week's ranking in parentheses)
1. (1.) Atholton (9-1, 377 points-55 points allowed)
Three shut outs in a row to end the season, and the most dominant year ever for the Raiders. Can't stop now...
Wins: Howard (28-7), River Hill (14-0), Reservoir (24-14), Marriotts Ridge (54-6), Oakland Mills (56-7), Hammond (40-21), Wilde Lake (35-0), Mt. Hebron (38-0), Centennial (49-0); Losses: Glenelg (FF).
Last week: Beat Centennial, 49-0. This week: home against Stephen Decatur, Friday at 7 p.m. (3A East regional semifinal).
2. (2.) River Hill (8-2, 321-80)
Since week five: River Hill 249, Opponents 33, including three shutouts and a 42-7 win over their playoff opponent, Howard. Then again, Howard just beat Hammond, 39-6, and Hammond beat River Hill 12-9 in week four.
NOTE: River Hill went on to defeat Atholton in the 3A East regional championship game, and then won the 3A state championship two weeks after that.
W: Reservoir (28-7), Long Reach (35-14), Wilde Lake (38-0), Howard (42-7), Oakland Mills (59-6), Centennial (47-0), Glenelg (21-20 OT), Mt. Hebron (42-0); L: Atholton (14-0), Hammond (12-9).
Last week: Beat Mt. Hebron, 42-0. This week: home against Howard, Friday at 7 p.m. (3A East regional semifinal).
3. (3.) Glenelg (8-2, 251-155)
Both of their losses were in overtime to 3A teams. Guess what, they're in the 2A South playoffs! Their 40-7 win over Marriotts Ridge last week gives them a more than respectable point differential of +96 for the regular season.
W: Atholton (FF), Centennial (34-0), Wilde Lake (28-8), Oakland Mills (41-14), Hammond (17-14), Long Reach (23-20), Howard (35-14), Marriotts Ridge (40-7). L: Reservoir (19-13 OT), River Hill (21-20 OT).
Last week: Beat Marriotts Ridge, 40-7. This week: home against Gwynn Park, Friday at 7 p.m. (2A South regional semifinal).
4. (6.) Howard (7-3, 253-184)
For awhile there, missed tackles and sloppy defense were costing Howard points and wins. But the Lions really got their show together down the stretch, holding high powered Reservoir and Hammond to only 13 combined points in the last two weeks, to get into the postseason. They're certainly the underdog against River Hill, but I've learned not to count the Lions out.
W: Centennial (41-0), Mt. Hebron (35-7), Long Reach (38-37), Oakland Mills (27-15), Marriotts Ridge (33-7), Reservoir (13-7 OT), Hammond (39-6); L: Atholton (28-7), River Hill (42-7), Glenelg (35-13).
Last week: Beat Hammond, 39-6. This week: at River Hill, Friday at 7 p.m. (3A East regional semifinal).
5. (4.) Long Reach (7-3, 329-218)
The Lightning finished with the league's second highest scoring offense (five points per game behind Atholton) and their best record since 2008, when they also narrowly missed the playoffs. That 38-37 loss to Howard was a dagger to their playoff aspirations, unfortunately.
W: Marriotts Ridge (55-14), Reservoir (32-20), Centennial (42-21), Mt. Hebron (26-6), Hammond (33-32 OT), Wilde Lake (28-22), Oakland Mills (42-7); L: River Hill (35-14), Howard (38-37), Glenelg (23-20).
Last week: Beat Oakland Mills, 42-7. This week: season complete.
6. (5.) Hammond (6-4, 250-170)
Hammond's season hit its peak with the win over River Hill in week four, then never recovered after the 17-14 loss to Glenelg a week later. They lost four of their last six games, and by the end of the season they just didn't have enough variety on offense. Devon Paye is going to make some college coach very happy though.
W: Wilde Lake (16-12), Mt. Hebron (36-13), Centennial (34-7), River Hill (12-9), Marriotts Ridge (35-0), Oakland Mills (44-0); L: Glenelg (17-14), Atholton (40-21), Long Reach (33-32 OT), Howard (39-6).
Last week: Lost to Howard (39-6). This week: season complete.
7. (7.) Reservoir (6-4, 249-124)
Here's how the Gators outscored opponents by 125 points over the course of the season, yet lost four games. Basically, they blew out four sub-.500 teams, won two close games, and stayed close in all of their losses.
W: Marriotts Ridge (49-6), Mt. Hebron (42-0), Centennial (34-0), Glenelg (19-13 OT), Oakland Mills (43-0), Wilde Lake (14-8); L: River Hill (28-7), Long Reach (32-20), Atholton (24-14), Howard (13-7 OT).
Last week: Beat Wilde Lake, 14-8. This week: season complete.
8. (8.) Wilde Lake (4-6, 202-178)
They weren't under the radar coming into this fall, far from it, but they certainly will be going into 2012 as the climb back to the top begins.
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), Atholton (35-0), Long Reach (28-22), Reservoir (14-8).
Last week: Lost to Reservoir, 14-8. This week: season complete.
The Vikings didn't score after an 18-14 win over Marriotts Ridge on Oct. 21 (they were playing Atholton and River Hill the last two weeks) but they still finished with more points than the three teams below them, and had a more robust defense.
W: Oakland Mills (26-0), Centennial (21-14), Marriotts Ridge (18-14); L: Hammond (36-13), Howard (35-7), Reservoir (42-0), Wilde Lake (42-0), Long Reach (26-6), Atholton (38-0), River Hill (42-0).
Last week: Lost to River Hill, 42-0. This week: season complete.
10. (10.) Centennial (1-9, 68-332)
They didn't get to play Oakland Mills this year, otherwise the Eagles might have had two wins. It probably would have been a competitive game though.
W: Marriotts Ridge (26-0); L: Howard (41-0), Glenelg (34-0), Hammond (34-7), Mt. Hebron (21-14), Long Reach (42-21), Reservoir (34-0), Wilde Lake (30-0), River Hill (47-0), Atholton (49-0).
Last week: Lost to Atholton, 49-0. This week: season complete.
On the bubble: Marriotts Ridge (0-10, 86-377), Oakland Mills (1-9, 83-398).
1. Atholton, 377 points scored
2. Long Reach, 329
3. River Hill, 321
4. Howard, 253
5. Glenelg, 251