Wow! It’s already week seven. The season has flown by, and I hope that means that we’ve all been having fun.

I know I have been!

When I look at this week’s schedule, two games jump out at me: Atholton (5-1) at Hammond (5-1), for obvious reasons, and then Reservoir (3-3) at Glenelg (6-0). That second game may seem like a mismatch based on records, but a closer look reveals that Reservoir has outscored opponents by a larger margin (12.66 points per game to 8) than Glenelg, and based on points, Reservoir has the third best offense in the league and the fourth best defense.

And we’re now deep enough into the season that you can’t just say, ‘Oh the numbers are skewed because they’ve been beating up on the little guys.’

Now I’m not saying that the Gators are going to pull off the upset, but I think this is going to be a much closer game than some people realize, and there should be some excitement on the field.

The other thing that I noticed while crunching numbers this week is the disparity between the top eight teams in the league and the bottom four. The top eight, the contenders, have won 33 games. The bottom four have won three. Mt. Hebron (2-4), the leader of that bunch, has defeated Oakland Mills (1-5) and Centennial (0-6).

Howard’s scoring differential of +26 ranks it eighth in the county. Mt. Hebron, in ninth place, has been outscored by more than 100 points.

I’m certainly not trying to pick on anyone by pointing out these numbers. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the county has become pretty competitive, and the good teams are really good.

Now, a quick glance at the playoff picture (top four in each region make the postseason). Glenelg’s win over Long Reach last week helped it hold onto the top seed in the 2A South, just ahead of undefeated Patuxent, while the Lightning slipped into eighth. Gwynn Park, the fourth seed, is only 4-2 though, so there is still hope for Long Reach (3-3).

The 3A East is still all Howard County, with Atholton, Hammond and River Hill entrenched in the top three spots and distancing themselves from the pack. Howard’s loss to River Hill last week allowed Stephen Decatur (4-2) to slide into the fourth spot, but the Lions (4-2), Wilde Lake (3-3) and Reservoir (3-3) still have a chance at the postseason.

Now, after all that hemming and hawing, time for the rankings. There weren’t any upsets last week, and the rankings are based on head-to-head and common opponents, but I have a feeling that No. 8 Reservoir, No. 4 River Hill or No. 7 Wilde Lake could be making a move up the ladder during the final mont. That 5-to-8 group (Howard, Long Reach, Reservoir, Wilde Lake) is the most difficult to sort out right now.

(Last week’s ranking in parentheses)

1. (1.) Atholton (5-1, 215 points-34 points allowed)

TheRaiders are on fire, scoring 110 points in their last two games (against Marriotts Ridge and Oakland Mills, it should be mentioned). They’ll have had eight days to prepare for Hammond, so they should be at full strength for this crucial game. Wilde Lake won’t be a pushover in week 8, but this is definitely Atholton’s toughest test left in the regular season.

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

2. (2.) Glenelg (6-0, 143-95)

The Gladiators have won two games in a row by a field goal. That says that they’ve got a good kicker, Luke Brister, and that they’ve been winning some close games. But it’s tough to keep coming out on top in close games, especially when you’ve got Reservoir (3-3), Howard (4-2) and River Hill (4-2) ahead on the schedule.

W: Atholton (FF), Centennial (34-0), Wilde Lake (28-8), Oakland Mills (41-14), Hammond (17-14), Long Reach (23-20). L: None.