Last week's upset extravaganza was exciting for high school football fans, because three of the six games saw lower-ranked teams win — No. 8 Mt. Hebron over No. 7 Wilde Lake, No. 5 Howard over No. 3 Centennial, and, of course, No. 6 Hammond over No. 1 River Hill to end a 30-game winning steak — but it made things difficult for anyone trying to find some kind of order among all of these teams.
And hey, I'm a fan at heart, too -- I just can't root for the teams I cover. I'm excited to see what happens with the Glenelg at Centennial, Howard at Hammond and Reservoir at Wilde Lake games tonight. Even Saturday's games — Long Reach at Marriotts Ridge and Mt. Hebron at Atholton — are intriguing.
Even the Oakland Mills at River Hill game is worth keeping an eye on. After all, Hammond did pass for 440 yards against a formidable Hawks defense, and Oakland Mills can air it out pretty good with quarterback David Pindell and his receiving corps: Dershone Hayman, Rashawn Curbeam and Kaiyon Stanfield.
With only three weeks left in the regular season, let's take a look at the playoff picture. Even after Howard's big win over Centennial, the Lions are still sitting in fifth place in the 4A North behind Paint Branch, Perry Hall, Sherwood and Kenwood. They'll likely need to win out against Hammond, River Hill and Long Reach to get in.
The 3A East, on the other hand, is looking good for Howard County. Glenelg and River Hill are in the top two spots with City and Digital Harbor mixing it up with Reservoir and Centennial for the last two. All six of those teams are either 6-1 or 5-2, though, so the last three weeks are important.
Finally, Hammond's stunning win last week propelled the Golden Bears into the fourth spot in the 2A South, but with two undefeated teams occupying the top two spots — Patuxent and Gwynn Park — Hammond probably will need to win out against Howard, Wilde Lake and Centennial to secure a trip to the postseason.
As for the county championship, Glenelg can put itself in position for at least a share of the title with a win over Centennial tonight. Glenelg's final two opponents — Atholton and Long Reach — have combined to win one game.
But if Centennial wins, things get even more interesting. With half of the league — Glenelg (6-1), River Hill (6-1), Centennial (5-2), Hammond (5-2), Howard (5-2) and Reservoir (5-2) — within one game of the top spot, it really is up for grabs.
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1. (2.) Glenelg (6-1, 197 points scored-59 points allowed)
Glenelg is the big winner from all of last week's surprises. The Gladiators are solid in all facets of the game, and have won six in a row, averaging almost 40 points per game in the last four. If they can survive tonight's game at Centennial, they would be in good position for at least a share of the county title and a top seed in the playoffs. It's a good time to be a Glenelg football fan.
Last week: beat Marriotts Ridge (1-6), 37-9. This week: at Centennial (5-2), Friday at 7 p.m.
W: WL (14-6), Re (24-6), Ha (35-3), Ho (35-20), OM (49-8), MR (37-9). L: RH (7-3).
2. (1.) River Hill (6-1, 239-71)
Last week, I wrote: "The Hawks haven't allowed more than a touchdown in any game this season, but they'll see some good offenses in the second half. Can any team end their winning streak, which is now at 30 games?" One could question if River Hill should fall further back after the loss to Hammond, but let's not go crazy. I still think they'll finish the regular season 9-1.
Last week: lost to Hammond (5-2), 47-38. This week: home against Oakland Mills (3-4), Friday at 7 p.m.
W: G (7-3), MR (49-0), A (28-6), C (42-7), MH (42-8), WL (33-0). L: Ha (47-38).
3. (4.) Reservoir (5-2, 181-134)
The Gators did lose to Centennial in Week 1, but more recently they've dealt losses to Hammond and Howard to earn this spot. Plus, their hard-charging offense, behind sturdy running back Avian White, is well suited for the onset of cold weather.
Last week: beat Long Reach (1-6), 46-20. This week: at Wilde Lake (3-4), Friday at 7 p.m.
W: MH (36-14), OM (49-21), Ha (24-21), Ho (13-6), LR (46-20). L: C (28-7), G (24-6).
4. (6.) Hammond (5-2, 213-133)
For those who wonder if the Golden Bears deserve to be No. 1 after knocking off River Hill, it's not that simple. Hammond has two losses with three more tough games ahead. I see them finishing 7-3, but if they do get to the postseason, they've proven that they can beat anyone.
Last week: beat River Hill (6-1), 47-38. This week: home against Howard (5-2), Friday at 7 p.m.
W: MH (27-0), LR (41-8), OM (30-14), MR (44-14), RH (47-38). L: G (35-3), Re (24-21).
5. (5.) Howard (5-2, 178-123)
The Lions have a tough road ahead to get to the 4A North playoffs, but the win over Centennial was a good start and earns them this spot.
Last week: beat Centennial (5-2), 29-26. This week: at Hammond (5-2), Friday at 7 p.m.
W: WL (13-10), A (40-16), MR (35-10), MH (35-13), C (29-26). L: G (35-20), Re (13-6).
6. (3.) Centennial (5-2, 213-126)
This 3-4-5-6 group is difficult to sort out and one team has to sit in the No. 6 spot. If the Eagles knock off Glenelg tonight, everything changes again.
Last week: lost to Howard (5-2), 29-26. This week: home against Glenelg (6-1), Friday at 7 p.m.
W: Re (28-7), OM (59-20), MH (28-21), LR (34-7), A (31-0). L: RH (42-7), Ho (29-26).
7. (8.) Mt. Hebron (2-5, 90-188)
After starting the season 0-5, the Vikings have shown signs of life, winning two games in a row by a touchdown. Their home stretch is favorable, and with playmaker Zach Nicholas on the field, the Vikings have a chance to finish .500.
Last week: beat Wilde Lake (3-4), 14-7. This week: at Atholton (0-7), Saturday at 2 p.m.
W: LR (20-13), WL (14-7). L: Ha (27-0), Re (36-14), C (28-21), Ho (35-13), RH (42-8).
8. (7.) Wilde Lake (3-4, 103-100)
After falling to Mt. Hebron, 14-7, last week the Wildecats have lost three games — to Howard, Glenelg and Mt. Hebron — by eight points or less. Their defense has been strong, allowing only 14 points per game, but they're going to have trouble beating Reservoir and Hammond if they score 10 points or less, which is what they've done in four of their seven games.
Last week: lost to Mt. Hebron (2-5), 14-7. This week: home against Reservoir (5-2), Friday at 7 p.m.
W: LR (29-7), MR (28-7), A (23-12). L: Ho (13-10), G (14-6), RH (33-0), MH (14-7).
9. (9.) Oakland Mills (3-4, 195-249)
It has been an exciting year for the Scorpions, who have won two of their last three games and boast the league's fifth-ranked offense, just two points behind Glenelg. The defense has allowed more than 35 points per game, but Oakland Mills has proven that it can win a shootout. I could see the Scorpions knocking off Mt. Hebron and Wilde Lake down the stretch to finish 5-5.
Last week: beat Atholton (0-7), 36-35. This week: home against River Hill (6-1), Friday at 7 p.m.
W: LR (44-6), MR (52-21), A (36-35). L: C (59-20), Ha (30-14), Re (49-21), G (49-8).
10. (10.) Long Reach (1-6, 76-228)
The Lightning has a chance to spoil Marriotts Ridge's homecoming game on Saturday before closing out the season with tough games against Glenelg and Howard.
Last week: lost to Reservoir (5-2), 46-20. This week: at Marriotts Ridge (1-6), Saturday at 1 p.m.
W: A (15-14). L: OM (44-6), Ha (41-8), WL (29-7), C (34-7), MH (20-13), Re (46-20).
On the bubble: Atholton (0-7, 118-180); Marriotts Ridge (1-6, 68-280).
River Hill, 239
Oakland Mills, 195
Wilde Lake, 103
Mt. Hebron, 90
Long Reach, 76
Marriotts Ridge, 68
River Hill, 71
Wilde Lake, 100
Mt. Hebron, 188
Long Reach, 228
Oakland Mills, 249
Marriotts Ridge, 280
River Hill, +168
Wilde Lake, +3
Oakland Mills, -54
Mt. Hebron, -98
Long Reach, -152
Marriotts Ridge, -212