Happy Halloween! I've been having nightmares trying to sort out all these football teams with all of these crazy upsets lately. Just kidding, doing these rankings has been as fun as getting a full-size candy bar while trick or treating.
Seriously, though, a lot of these spots could be disputed, from No. 1 all the way down to No. 10. So when sorting things out I favor recent results over what happened earlier in the season, I look at what the final records are likely to be, etc. It's not as simple as just saying: Centennial beat Reservoir and Hammond beat River Hill, so they get the higher ranking.
Even this week, I foresee more upsets. River Hill at Howard, and Mt. Hebron at Oakland Mills are especially intriguing.
Playoff update. Howard could essentially clinch a spot in the 4A North with a win over River Hill Friday night. It looks as though they still could squeak in after a loss, but Lions might need some help. Glenelg, River Hill and Reservoir are hanging tough in the 3A East. The Gladiators shouldn't have trouble clinching the top seed, but River Hill and Reservoir each have tough games ahead, including the Reservoir at River Hill Week 10 showdown.
If Centennial (5-3) can get past Marrriotts Ridge (2-6) this week and then beat Hammond (5-3) in Week 10, the Eagles could slip past Digital Harbor and City for the fourth and final seed, but they might need both of those teams to lose one of their final games. City (6-2) is going to have a tough road running the table against its final two opponents, Carver (8-0) and Douglass (8-0). But Digital Harbor (6-2) has winnable games left against Lewis (3-5) and DuBois (5-3).
In the 2A South, Hammond is clinging to the No. 4 seed, but can clinch that spot or better by beating Wilde Lake and Centennial.
As for the county title, Glenelg just needs to take care of business against Long Reach (1-7) and Atholton (1-7) to clinch at least a share, and if Howard or Reservoir can upset River Hill, the Gladiators will win the championship outright.
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All games this week are Friday at 7 p.m.
1. (1.) Glenelg (7-1, 218 points scored-62 points allowed)
The most consistent team in the league, the Gladiators have won seven in a row and 11 of their last 13 dating back to last year. This team looks destined for a strong playoff run in November...
Last week: beat Centennial (5-3), 21-3. This week: home against Long Reach (1-7).
W: WL (14-6), Re (24-6), Ha (35-3), Ho (35-20), OM (49-8), MR (37-9), C (21-3). L: RH (7-3).
2. (2.) River Hill (7-1, 288-77)
The Hawks bounced back emphatically from the ugly 47-38 loss to Hammond, dispatching a good Oakland Mills team, 49-6. With all of their guys healthy, the Hawks appear to be the only team in the 3A East capable of beating Glenelg (as they did, 7-3, in Week 1).
Last week: beat Oakland Mills (3-5), 49-6. This week: at Howard (6-2).
W: G (7-3), MR (49-0), A (28-6), C (42-7), MH (42-8), WL (33-0), OM (49-6). L: Ha (47-38).
3. (3.) Reservoir (6-2, 208-141)
It's a close call between the Gators and Lions, but Reservoir earned this spot straight up by beating Howard, 13-6, on Oct. 11. The Gators have won five in a row and have a playoff spot all but cinched, while Howard might need some help to get in.
Last week: beat Wilde Lake (3-5), 27-7. This week: home against Atholton (1-7).
W: MH (36-14), OM (49-21), Ha (24-21), Ho (13-6), LR (46-20), WL (27-7). L: C (28-7), G (24-6).
4. (5.) Howard (6-2, 204-130)
The Lions get a little boost after last week's convincing win over Hammond, and with Malik Anderson back to complement star Terrell Charles at running back, Howard is apable of pulling off the upset against visiting River Hill.
Last week: beat Hammond (5-3), 26-7. This week: home against River Hill (7-1).
W: WL (13-10), A (40-16), MR (35-10), MH (35-13), C (29-26), Ha (26-7). L: G (35-20), Re (13-6).
5. (6.) Centennial (5-3, 216-147)
It's almost too close to call between these next two teams. They have the same record and a nearly identical scoring differential after having played seven common opponents. But I give Centennial a slight edge. Centennial beat Reservoir, which beat Hammond. Centennial lost to Glenelg, 21-3, while Hammond lost to Glenelg, 35-3. And Centennial lost to Howard, 29-6, while Hammond lost to the Lions, 26-7. They'll get a chance to settle this on the field in Week 10.
Last week: lost to Glenelg (7-1), 21-3. This week: at Marriotts Ridge (2-6).
W: Re (28-7), OM (59-20), MH (28-21), LR (34-7), A (31-0). L: RH (42-7), Ho (29-26), G (21-3).
6. (4.) Hammond (5-3, 220-159)
One week after scoring 47 points against River Hill's top-ranked defense, Hammond managed only one touchdown last week against Howard. The Golden Bears see two more good defenses, Wilde Lake and Centennial, down the stretch, so they'll need to get it going again on offense to secure a playoff spot.
Last week: lost to Howard (6-2), 26-7. This week: home against Wilde Lake (3-5).
W: MH (27-0), LR (41-8), OM (30-14), MR (44-14), RH (47-38). L: G (35-3), Re (24-21), Ho (26-7).
7. (9.) Oakland Mills (3-5, 201-298)
I've been overlooking the Scorpions all season — maybe because they were 0-10 last year while being outscored by 300 points — but this David Pindell-led offense can put up points. Their defense has allowed a league-worst 37 points per game. Still, they have a legitimate shot at finishing .500.
Last week: lost to River Hill (7-1), 49-6. This week: home against Mt. Hebron (2-6).
W: LR (44-6), MR (52-21), A (36-35). L: C (59-20), Ha (30-14), Re (49-21), G (49-8), RH (49-6).
8. (7.) Mt. Hebron (2-6, 104-209)
The Vikings showed progress in Weeks 6 and 7, winning back-to-back games, but then regressed last week with a homecoming loss at struggling Atholton. Averaging only 13 points per game, the Vikings are going to have trouble winning a shootout at Oakland Mills this week.
Last week: lost to Atholton (1-7), 21-14. This week: at Oakland Mills (3-5).
W: LR (20-13), WL (14-7). L: Ha (27-0), Re (36-14), C (28-21), Ho (35-13), RH (42-8), A (21-14).
9. (8.) Wilde Lake (3-5, 110-127)
The Wildecats have the league's third-ranked defense, allowing fewer than 16 points per game, but they haven't been able to win games in the second half, losing three games — to Howard, Glenelg and Mt. Hebron — by eight points or less. It has been a rough October, as Wilde Lake has lost its last three games by a combined, 74-14.
Last week: lost to Reservoir (6-2), 27-7. This week: at Hammond (5-3).
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).
10. (NR) Atholton (1-7, 139-194)
We've been waiting for the Raiders to break out all year. The season got off to a rough start with a forfeit loss to Marriotts Ridge, and then never quite got on track, with one-point losses to Long Reach and Oakland Mills. They finally got their first win last week to emerge from the bubble, but now they finish the season against two of the best teams in the league -- Reservoir and Glenelg.
Last week: beat Mt. Hebron (2-6), 21-14. This week: at Reservoir (6-2).
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).
On the bubble: Long Reach (1-7, 88-249); Marriotts Ridge (2-6, 89-292).
River Hill, 288
Oakland Mills, 201
Wilde Lake, 110
Mt. Hebron, 104
Marriotts Ridge, 89
Long Reach, 88
River Hill, 77
Wilde Lake, 127
Mt. Hebron, 209
Long Reach, 249
Marriotts Ridge, 292
Oakland Mills, 298
River Hill, +211
Wilde Lake, -17
Oakland Mills, -97
Mt. Hebron, -105
Long Reach, -161
Marriotts Ridge, -203