The other day, I had an enlightening conversation with a colleague who ranks high school sports teams for another publication. He/she, who shall go unnamed, explained a particularly bizarre ranking decision by saying that he/she "wanted to do something different."
I guess the thinking is that you can always go back and change them in later editions...
While I've always been a fan of choosing the road less traveled, I had to chuckle at the idea. It might be fun to shake all the Howard County football teams up like a game of Yahtzee and see what kind of reaction I get when I rank River Hill sixth and Mt. Hebron second.
But I think it's more fun to try to get the rankings right and see how they hold up each week, rather than throwing some nonsense against the wall to see what kind of rise I can get out of everyone.
With that being said, there was a little bit of shake-up in this week's rankings. Mt. Hebron, the early surprise team of 2012, has made another leap after beating Long Reach in overtime Friday night. And astute readers will also notice that one of the 'on the bubble' teams has made its way into the rankings, even after a loss.
This week's best games look like Atholton at Howard in a battle of undefeated teams, Mt. Hebron at Wilde Lake and Oakland Mills (0-2) at Marriotts Ridge (0-2) on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the first homecoming game of the season.
(Last week's ranking in parentheses)
1. (1.) River Hill (2-0, 101 points scored-16 points allowed)
The Hawks win the race to 100 points. The next closest team is Howard with 66. Did you know River Hill does not play Atholton this year? Both teams are probably secretly happy for their playoff chances to avoid such a strong opponent on the regular season schedule, but fans miss out on what is always a great football game.
Wins: LR (52-16), OM (49-0). Losses: NA.
Last week: Beat Oakland Mills, 49-0. This week: home against No. 10 Centennial (1-1).
2. (2.) Atholton (2-0, 42-37)
The Raiders have outscored their first two opponents by a combined five points, including an overtime win, but no one at Atholton is complaining about being 2-0 heading into week three of a tough early schedule, all while breaking in a fairly new varsity team. The schedule doesn't lighten up this week, as Atholton visits undefeated Howard in the Game of the Week! I'm looking forward to seeing new Raiders QB Luke Casey (369 yards and four touchdowns combined passing and rushing last week) in action.
W: WL (14-12 OT), Re (28-25). L: NA.
Last week: Beat Reservoir, 28-25. This week: at No. 3 Howard (2-0).
3. (3.) Howard (2-0, 66-21)
Howard has the second best offense and defense in the league so far, trailing only River Hill, but both units will be put to the test Friday night against an Atholton team which is gaining momentum.
W: G (28-14), MR (38-7). L: NA.
Last week: Beat Marriotts Ridge, 38-7. This week: home against No. 2 Atholton (2-0).
4. (4.) Glenelg (1-1, 35-36)
The Gladiators got a little swagger back in their home opener by beating a tough Hammond squad by two TDs, and taking a shut out late into the fourth quarter. Last year Glenelg beat this Friday night's opponent, Long Reach, 23-20.
W: Ha (21-8). L: Ho (28-14).
Last week: beat Hammond, 21-8. This week: home against No. 8 Long Reach (0-2).
5. (5.) Wilde Lake (1-1, 37-29)
Wilde Lake led by only six points at halftime against a team (Centennial) that won only one game last season, but had built a 25-7 lead by the fourth quarter, and if not for three missed extra point attempts and a late 8-point score by Centennial, the score could have been more lopsided. Eric Handy (3 TDs) and Wayne Long (172 yards) look like an excellent rushing tandem carrying the ball behind new OL Moses Larose.
W: C (25-15). L: A (14-12 OT).
Last week: Beat Centennial, 25-15. This week: home against No. 7 Mt. Hebron (2-0).
6. (6.) Hammond (1-1, 37-21)
The Golden Bears' defense has been impressive so far, but the offense seems to have had a little trouble getting going. Hammond didn't get on the board last Friday until there were less than six minutes left in the game.
W: MR (29-0). L: G (21-8).
Last week: Lost to Glenelg, 21-8. This week: home against No. 9 Reservoir (0-2).
7. (8.) Mt. Hebron (2-0, 58-39)
A 2-0 team this low? I know, but the Vikings started pretty low — owing to last year's 3-7 record — and they've been steadily working their way up. This week's opponent, Wilde Lake, is only two rungs up the ladder, and another promotion wouldn't be that far fetched considering Mt. Hebron's high octane offense.
W: Re (26-13), LR (32-26 OT). L: NA.
Last week: beat Long Reach, 32-26 OT. This week: at No. 5 Wilde Lake (1-1).
8. (7.) Long Reach (0-2, 42-84)
Tough sledding so far for the Lightning, who drew the unlucky card of visiting defending state champ River Hill in week one, and fell in overtime last week. The problem so far seems to be the defense, which has allowed 84 points through two games, worst in the league by more than two touchdowns.
W: NA. L: RH (52-16), MH (32-26 OT).
Last week: Lost to Mt. Hebron, 32-26 OT. This week: at No. 4 Glenelg (1-1).
9. (9.) Reservoir (0-2, 38-54)
Two hard-fought performances so far for the Gators, but still nothing to show for it. The offense gained more than 400 yards of total offense last week, but left some points on the table.
W: NA. L: MH (26-13), A (28-25).
Last week: Lost to Atholton, 28-25. This week: at No. 6 Hammond (1-1).
10. (NA) Centennial (1-1, 20-6)
Well, I tried to give Marriotts Ridge a chance to hang in the ten spot, but they didn't really run with it, allowing a ton of points and scoring just one touchdown in two weeks. The Eagles, meanwhile, won a game (against Oakland Mills albeit) and played a top-team, Wilde Lake, pretty tough, so they are well deserving of this accolade with an offense that can pass and run, and a defense that can make stops. I don't expect them to make any headway this week though…
W: OM (20-6). L: WL (25-15).
Last week: Lost to Wilde Lake, 25-15. This week: at No. 1 River Hill (2-0).
On the bubble: Marriotts Ridge (0-2, 7-67), Oakland Mills (0-2, 6-69).
River Hill, 101 points scored
Mt. Hebron, 58
Long Reach, 42
Wilde Lake, 37
Marriotts Ridge, 7
Oakland Mills, 6
River Hill, 16 points allowed
Wilde Lake, 29
Mt. Hebron, 39
Marriotts Ridge, 67
Oakland Mills, 69
Long Reach, 84
River Hill, +85
Mt. Hebron, +19
Wilde Lake, +8
Long Reach, -42
Marriotts Ridge, -60
Oakland Mills, -63