Happy playoffs, everyone. It's an exciting time of year for Howard County football since five teams made the playoffs that began Friday night.
We could very well have some shakeups in these rankings, with Reservoir defeating Glenelg, 34-13, in their 3A semifinal game to open the playoffs and River Hill possibly playing the Gators next week, but for at least the regular season this is the final edition. Let's see how I did with the first rankings back in Week 1.
1. River Hill
5. Mt. Hebron
7. Wilde Lake
10. Long Reach
On the bubble: Marriotts Ridge, Oakland Mills.
I was pretty good with the top two spots, although River Hill had some midseason hiccups. I was just about right with Reservoir, Hammond, Long Reach and Marriotts Ridge. I overrated Atholton, and might have been bullish on Mt. Hebron and Wilde Lake, but not by that much. I underestimated Oakland Mills, and missed the boat on Howard and Centennial. Overall, I give myself a C.
On to the rankings:
1. (1.) Glenelg (9-1, 272 points scored-62 points allowed)
Last five games: Glenelg 161, Opponents 20. I'd say they enteried the playoffs on a roll before stumbling against Reservoir. The Gladiators allowed only six points per game this season for the best defense in the league. And you know what they say about defense. I have a feeling that they could have scored more than 27 points per game (third best in the league) but Glenelg has never been a team to run up the score.
Last week: beat Atholton (1-9), 33-0. This week: Lost to Reservoir (7-3) on Friday 34-13 (3A East regional semifinal)
W: WL (14-6), Re (24-6), Ha (35-3), Ho (35-20), OM (49-8), MR (37-9), C (21-3), LR (21-0), A (33-0). L: RH (7-3).
2. (3.) Howard (8-2, 246-139)
It's a tough call for the No. 2 spot, which has been occupied by four different teams this season. The Lions lost to Reservoir back in mid-October, but have won their last four games, including a convincing 21-3 win over River Hill two weeks ago. River Hill's super close 14-13 win over Reservoir last week knocked the Gators out of the two-spot, opening it up for Howard. You could argue for Howard, Reservoir or River Hill in this spot, and you would not be wrong. That's how close these teams are.
Last week: beat Long Reach (1-9), 21-6. This week: Lost to Perry Hall (9-1) on Friday 28-14. (4A North regional semifinal)
W: WL (13-10), A (40-16), MR (35-10), MH (35-13), C (29-26), Ha (26-7), RH (21-3), LR (21-6). L: G (35-20), Re (13-6).
3. (4.) River Hill (8-2, 305-111)
After winning two straight titles, the Hawks have been inconsistent this year, allowing 47 points in a loss to Hammond and scoring only three in a setback to Howard. But they appear to be getting healthy at the right time, and with all of their guys on the field they are still one of the best teams in the county, if not the state.
Last week: beat Reservoir (7-3), 14-13. This week: at City College (8-2), Saturday at 1 p.m. (3A East regional semifinal)
W: G (7-3), MR (49-0), A (28-6), C (42-7), MH (42-8), WL (33-0), OM (49-6), Re (14-13). L: Ha (47-38), Ho (21-3).
4. (2.) Reservoir (7-3, 254-181)
It might seem harsh to drop Reservoir two spots after a one-point loss to the defending state champ. That game could easily have gone either way if the Gators didn't fumble a couple times in the first half or miss the extra point that would have sent the game to OT. But that's high school football. This team is capable of beating anyone as it showed by upsetting Glenelg to open the playoffs.
Last week: lost to River Hill (8-2), 14-13. This week: Beat Glenelg (9-1), Friday 34-13. (3A East regional semifinal).
W: MH (36-14), OM (49-21), Ha (24-21), Ho (13-6), LR (46-20), WL (27-7), A (33-26 OT). L: C (28-7), G (24-6), RH (14-13).
5. (5.) Centennial (7-3, 317-166)
That was quite a display by the Eagles last week, putting up 53 points against playoff-bound Hammond. While Centennial didn't qualify for the playoffs, it has still been a strong year for the Eagles, who scored a league-best 31.7 points per game.
Last week: beat Hammond (6-4), 53-19. This week: season complete.
W: Re (28-7), OM (59-20), MH (28-21), LR (34-7), A (31-0), MR (48-0), Ha (53-19). L: RH (42-7), Ho (29-26), G (21-3).
6. (6.) Hammond (6-4, 259-225)
The Golden Bears were slipping going into the playoffs, having lost two of their last three and allowing an average of 32.5 points per game over the last four. It didn't help matters that they had a tough draw, traveling 80 miles south to face undefeated Patuxent in the regional semifinals. But they had an opportunity to win a state championship, and that's all any team can ask for coming into the season.
Last week: lost to Centennial (7-3), 53-19. This week: Lost to Patuxent (10-0) on Friday 49-0 (2A South regional semifinal).
W: MH (27-0), LR (41-8), OM (30-14), MR (44-14), RH (47-38), WL (20-13). L: G (35-3), Re (24-21), Ho (26-7), C (53-19).
7. (7.) Mt. Hebron (4-6, 184-243)
The Vikings started to get things together in the second half of the season, but it was too late to salvage a winning campaign. Still, scoring 80 points in their last two games was a good way to close things out.
Last week: beat Marriotts Ridge (2-8), 41-13. This week: season complete.
W: LR (20-13), WL (14-7), OM (39-21), MR (41-13). L: Ha (27-0), Re (36-14), C (28-21), Ho (35-13), RH (42-8), A (21-14).
8. (9.) Oakland Mills (4-6, 240-352)
We knew the Scorpions could score points (24 per game). The question was: could they stop anyone after allowing an average of 43 points in their last four games? Well, Oakland Mills answered by holding Wilde Lake to two touchdowns in an 18-15 win, its best defensive performance since a 44-6 Week 1 win over Long Reach.
Last week: beat Wilde Lake (3-7), 18-15. This week: season complete.
W: LR (44-6), MR (52-21), A (36-35), WL (18-15). L: C (59-20), Ha (30-14), Re (49-21), G (49-8), RH (49-6), MH (39-21).
9. (8.) Wilde Lake (3-7, 138-165)
It was a frustrating season for the Wildecats, who lost five games by eight points or less. Wilde Lake appears to be on the verge of bigger things, so they'll try to take the positives into 2014.
Last week: lost to Oakland Mills (4-6), 18-15. This week: season complete.
W: LR (29-7), MR (28-7), A (23-12). L: Ho (13-10), G (14-6), RH (33-0), MH (14-7), Re (27-7), Ha (20-13), OM (18-15).
10. (10.) Atholton (1-9, 165-260)
After taking Reservoir to overtime, it looked as if Atholton might be able to give Glenelg a game. But the Gladiators made a statement with a 33-0 shutout. The Raiders will be eager for a fresh start in 2014.
Last week: lost to Glenelg (9-1), 33-0. This week: season complete.
W: MH (21-14). L: MR (FF), Ho (40-16), RH (28-6), LR (15-14), WL (23-12), C (31-0), OM (36-35), Re (33-26 OT), A (33-0).
On the bubble: Long Reach (1-9, 94-291); Marriotts Ridge (2-8, 102-381).
River Hill, 305
Oakland Mills, 240
Mt. Hebron, 184
Wilde Lake, 138
Marriotts Ridge, 102
Long Reach, 94
River Hill, 111
Wilde Lake, 165
Mt. Hebron, 243
Long Reach, 291
Oakland Mills, 352
Marriotts Ridge, 381
River Hill, 194
Wilde Lake, -27
Mt. Hebron, -59
Oakland Mills, -112
Long Reach, -197
Marriotts Ridge, -279