Oh man, you people are probably starting to get as tired of reading these things as I'm getting of writing them!
Haha, just kidding, this is a lot of fun!
Seriously though, there are only two weeks left in the regular season, right?
It has gotten a little exhausting with all the changes every week. In the first month or so of the season you expect everything to bounce around until the teams get settled into their respective spots, and then I can just copy and paste and write a few new cute comments each week. You're just like "River Hill continues to roll!" or "Atholton is playoff bound, and look out because they'll be dangerous!" But not so this year, when every week I'm having to make major overhauls. Ah, but I can't complain too bad. I get paid to watch sports.
And this last week was relatively calm in terms of upsets. No. 6 Glenelg took out No. 3 Mt. Hebron, and No. 8 Hammond gave No. 2 Atholton a pretty good run for its money, but all-in-all, it was a fairly quiet week (except for all that lightning and rain and postponements!)
The playoff picture is starting to get a little clearer, but nothing is set in stone. Even after it's win over Mt. Hebron last week, Glenelg still has a lot of ground to make up in the 2A South. The Gladiators are sitting in sixth place (the top four teams get into the postseason), and their 44 playoff points are more than 20 behind fourth-place Gwynn Park (65). I'm no mathematician, but I'm thinking that Glenelg would probably need to beat Centennial AND Atholton down the stretch, and have Gwynn Park lose to both Forestville and Surrattsville, who are both, 5-3, to get in. But time will tell.
Howard County's prospects in the 3A East region are MUCH better. We're virtually assured of getting four teams into the playoffs. Which four teams those are is still in question though. If the season ended right now, it would be River Hill (76 playoff points), Atholton (72), Howard (48) and Mt. Hebron (44). But there are three more local teams right behind them: Reservoir (43), Wilde Lake (35) and Hammond (31). River Hill and Atholton are pretty much locked into the top two spots, but the last two teams could definitely change. Howard still has to play Mt. Hebron and River Hill, Mt. Hebron still has to play Howard and Hammond, Reservoir still has Long Reach and Oakland Mills, Wilde Lake still has River Hill and Marriotts Ridge, and Hammond still has Oakland Mills and Mt. Hebron.
I just don't see Hammond getting in with a 3-5 record after eight weeks. If Wilde Lake can somehow upset River Hill they'll net a treasure trove of playoff points, and could make up a ton of ground. Reservoir has by far the easiest remaining schedule, the problem is that those wins aren't worth as many playoff points. Obviously the Friday night game between Howard and Mt. Hebron is going to have huge implications.
And we'll all be on upset alert with the Wilde Lake/River Hill game, which always seems to be a good one.
Oh, and happy Halloween! Has everyone been watching AMC FearFest? I think I might be Michael Myers this year. I've already got a pair of shoes. Now, does anyone have a Michael Myers mask and wig, and worksuit that I can borrow?
OK, that's enough fooling around, onto the rankings.
(Last week's ranking in parentheses; all games Friday night at 7 p.m. unless indicated)
1. (1.) River Hill (8-0, 378 points scored-57 points allowed)
What more can be said at this point? River Hill is clearly a step above every other team in the county, and we'll soon know how they compare to the other top public schools in Maryland. Last three games: 140-0. QB Austin Altman threw touchdown passes No. 13, 14 and 15 in last week's win over Reservoir.
Last week: beat Reservoir (4-4), 41-0. This week: home against Wilde Lake (4-4).
Wins: LR (52-16), OM (49-0), C (56-0), Ha (54-28), G (27-13), MH (37-0), MR (62-0), Re (41-0). Losses: NA.
2. (2.) Atholton (7-1, 216-122)
Earlier this season — after four straight games decided by four points or less — it looked like Atholton was going to be fighting for every win, let alone be in contention for a county title. Now that they're 7-1, it's hard to not look back and think "Shoot! We should have beaten Long Reach and we'd be two wins away from at least a share of the county title!" But there's no use worrying about that now, and I'm sure the Raiders would prefer a win over River Hill in the playoffs to a 10-0 regular season. This defense is much better than it was in mid-September, and dual-pass/run threat Luke Casey and RB Isaac Murray make the offense tough to stop.
Last week: beat Hammond (3-5), 20-18. This week: at Marriotts Ridge (2-6).
2012 Howard County football power rankings, Week 9
A formerly undefeated team takes a tumble, but playoff hopes are still alive
Howard County Football Power Rankings (October 25, 2012)