Ah, Week 5: The season’s halfway mark, when the contenders separate themselves from the pretenders, or so that clever rhyme goes.
There isn’t a lot of movement in the Power Rankings after last week’s shake-up, but there were plenty of close calls. No. 2 Hammond defeated No. 3 River Hill, 12-9, by virtue of six turnovers, and No. 8 Reservoir held a second-half lead over No. 1 Atholton, which also was having problems hanging on to a slippery football.
Centennial had a shot at escaping the basement when it took a second-half lead over No. 9 Mt. Hebron, but the Vikings scored a tiebreaking touchdown with less than 50 seconds left to claim the Holshue Cup.
There will be no shortage of good games this Friday night, but I won’t be here to see them. My cousin is getting married in Ocean City. Family comes before work, I learned from that old Harry Chapin song "Cat's in the Cradle."
We’ll still have all of your Friday night football coverage here at explorehoward, and I’ll be back next week getting after it. For all my Twitter followers (@ACHoCoSports) I’ll even try to broadcast any scoring updates that come my way in between dances with bridesmaids.
Finally, I’d like to apologize for not getting these rankings out earlier. Down the road you can expect the Power Rankings on Thursday morning. Now, onto business.
(Last week’s ranking in parentheses; all games are Friday at 7 p.m.)
1. (1.) Atholton (3-1, 105-21)
Forget the blemish on the record, this is the best, most well-rounded team in the league. The Raiders faltered against Reservoir but they were strong enough to recover and come away with the win.
Wins: Howard (28-7), River Hill (14-0), Reservoir (24-14); Losses: Glenelg (FF).
Last week: Beat Reservoir, 24-14. This week: home against Marriotts Ridge.
2. (2.) Hammond (4-0, 98-41)
Few teams have the knack for coming through in close games that Hammond does (7-0 in games decided by 8 points or less since last year). That ability will suit the Golden Bears well in October and November.
W: Wilde Lake (16-12), Mt. Hebron (36-13), Centennial (34-7), River Hill (12-9); L: None.
Last week: Beat River Hill, 12-9. This week: home against Glenelg.
3. (3.) River Hill (2-2, 72-47)
After a brutal start, things finally ease up for the Hawks. Oh wait, they play Wilde Lake on the road this week. Never mind. With Aaron Wells back running the ball, things are still starting to look up for River Hill, but the Hawks will be facing an opponent that is just as desperate as they are.
W: Reservoir (28-7), Long Reach (35-14); L: Atholton (14-0), Hammond (12-9).
Last week: Lost to Hammond, 12-9. This week: at Wilde Lake.
4. (6.) Glenelg (4-0, 103-61)
A bit of an adjustment here. Last week I had Howard and Long Reach ahead of Glenelg and Wilde Lake, but I can't put a 4-0 team that low in the rankings. Howard and Long Reach clearly belong right next to each other since they just played a 38-37 game, but I think Wilde Lake — which doesn't play Howard this year — will likely turn things around and belongs in the top five.
W: Atholton (FF), Centennial (34-0), Wilde Lake (28-8), Oakland Mills (41-14). L: None.
Last week: Beat Oakland Mills, 41-14. This week: at Hammond.
5. (7.) Wilde Lake (2-2, 100-63)
The Wildecats got a chance to gather themselves last week against a young Marriotts Ridge team, but it was a brief respite. A similarly battered River Hill team is coming to town Friday night looking to atone for last year’s playoff loss.
W: Oakland Mills (40-7), Marriotts Ridge (40-12); L: Hammond (16-12), Glenelg (28-8).
Last week: Beat Marriotts Ridge, 40-12. This week: home against River Hill.
6. (5.) Howard (3-1, 121-72)
Strong and accurate QB (Ryan Wade): Check. Deep running game: Check. Beef on the lines: Check. Sure tacklers: …
The Lions need to work on their tackling after allowing Long Reach to score 23 points in the fourth quarter last week to get back into a game that was a blowout, but otherwise this is a team with a lot going for it.
W: Centennial (41-0), Mt. Hebron (35-7), Long Reach (38-37); L: Atholton (28-7).
Last week: Beat Long Reach (38-37). This week: at Oakland Mills.
7. (4.) Long Reach (2-2, 138-107)
Wow, what a game last week. The Lightning scored 23 points in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t enough to overcome a 19-0 deficit. We know the Lightning can score — they’re averaging a league-best 34.5 points a game — but it’s time to point out the elephant in the room. The defense — which is giving up 27 points per game — has to improve.
W: Marriotts Ridge (55-14), Reservoir (32-20); L: River Hill (35-14), Howard (38-37).
Last week: Lost to Howard, 38-37. This week: home against Centennial.
8. (8.) Reservoir (1-3, 90-90)
The Gators held a second-half lead on Atholton, but couldn’t hold on for what would have been a major upset. Mt. Hebron only won one game last year, but the Vikings are vastly improved in 2011. The Gators are going to need another inspired performance this week.
W: Marriotts Ridge (49-6); L: River Hill (28-7), Long Reach (32-20), Atholton (24-14).
Last week: Lost to Atholton, 24-14. This week: home against Mt. Hebron.
9. (9.) Mt. Hebron (2-2, 67-85)
The Vikings were tied with Centennial until Zach Nicholas scored a TD with less than a minute left, but you can attribute that more to Centennial coming through in the clutch in a big rivalry game than Mt. Hebron having a letdown.
W: Oakland Mills (26-0), Centennial (21-14); L: Hammond (36-13), Howard (35-7).
Last week: Beat Centennial, 21-14. This week: at Reservoir.
10. (10.) Oakland Mills (1-3, 48-127)
QB Kurtis Coleman and crew are starting to get it together, and once they do this is going to be a pretty good offensive team. The Scorpions’ remaining schedule is brutal, though, so wins are going to be hard to come by.
W: Marriotts Ridge (27-20); L: Mt. Hebron (26-0), Wilde Lake (40-7), Glenelg (41-14).
Last week: Lost to Glenelg, 41-14. This week: home against Howard.
On the bubble: Centennial (0-4, 21-130), Marriotts Ridge (0-4, 52-171).
1. Long Reach, 138 points scored
2. Howard, 121
3. Atholton, 105
4. Glenelg, 103
5. Wilde Lake, 100
6. Hammond, 98
7. Reservoir, 90
8. River Hill, 72
9. Mt. Hebron, 67
10. Marriotts Ridge, 52
11. Oakland Mills, 48
12. Centennial, 21
1. Atholton, 21 points allowed
2. Hammond, 41
3. River Hill, 47
4. Glenelg, 61
5. Wilde Lake, 63
6. Howard, 72
7. Mt. Hebron, 85
8. Reservoir, 90
9. Long Reach, 107
10. Oakland Mills, 127
11. Centennial, 130
12. Marriotts Ridge, 171
1. Atholton, +84
2. Hammond, +57
3. Howard, +49
4. Glenelg, +42
5. Wilde Lake, +37
6. Long Reach, +31
7. River Hill, +25
8. Reservoir, 0
9. Mt. Hebron, -18
10. Oakland Mills, -79
11. Centennial, -109
12. Marriotts Ridge, -119