Football season is back. The Ravens had a rough night on national TV to kick off the NFL season on Thursday, but it's a new day and a perfect one to start the Howard County high school football season.
Week 1 power rankings are difficult because, well, no one has played and every team has a bunch of new players.
Still, it should come as no surprise that River Hill is the No. 1 pick after going 62-5 in the past five years. After that, though, the rankings are based on a combination of last year's final standings, this year's projections and historical trends. Who knows? Oakland Mills, which has won one game in the past two seasons, could go undefeated and win the state title this year.
That's not likely to happen, but that's what makes a new season fun and exciting.
(Personal note: because I will be attending my younger brother's bachelor party Friday night at Oriole Park, our new sports reporter, Matt Owings, will be covering the River Hill at Glenelg game. Thanks Matt, and congrats Philip and Sarah!)
All Week 1 games are Friday at 7 p.m.
(Last year's final ranking in parentheses)
1. (1.) River Hill
Four state titles in the past five seasons. I think that's enough reasoning.
This week: at Glenelg.
2. (4.) Glenelg
Maybe I'm trying too hard to create a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in Week 1, but I like the playmaking combination of David Brookhart and Jared Jacoby, along with two solid lines.
3. (2.) Atholton
The Raiders (20-4 in the past two seasons) are breaking in a bunch of new starters and a new coach. A trio of talented transfers join the league's top returning rusher — Isaac Murray — to give Atholton plenty of skill.
This week: at Marriotts Ridge.
4. (3.) Reservoir
The Gators finally reached the postseason last year, but they'll be breaking in a lot of new players on defense.
This week: home against Centennial.
5. (6.) Mt. Hebron
Zach Nicholas is a solid player to build a team around, and the Vikings have plenty of talent around him as well, such as two-way player Marty Stevenson.
This week: at Hammond.
6. (5.) Hammond
What I like about Hammond -- new coach Justin Carey brings a lot of energy to the program, the Bears have an experienced quarterback in Tyler Martin, won their last two games by a combined 68-13 and have some of the most talented new players in the league. The Week 1 game at Mt. Hebron will be a battle.
This week: home against Mt. Hebron.
7. (8.) Wilde Lake
The Wildecats finished 5-5 last year, which just doesn't seem right for a team that has won six state titles. QB Spencer Ampofo is in his third year running the offense, and Malik Jackson is one of the league's best receivers. I see a winning season at minimum for Wilde Lake.
This week: at Howard.
8. (7.) Howard
The Lions become Howard County's first Class 4A football team, but they'll still be playing fellow Howard County opponents all season. Line play and secondary look to be strengths for the Lions, but they will be breaking in several new players at the skill positions.
This week: home against Wilde Lake.
9. (10.) Centennial
The Eagles return arguably more talent than any other team in the league, including QB Tyler Morris, running backs Walter Fletcher and , Quinn Western, wide receivers Chase Conley and Damon Reaves, as well as a handful of experienced players on defense. Centennial is the team with the biggest opportunity for upward mobility this season.
This week: at Reservoir.
10. (9.) Long Reach
New coach Jamie Willis has some talented players, especially on the defensive side of the ball, with linebackers Mike Conlon and Tommy Montag, and all-county first-teamer Rob Carter.
This week: at Oakland Mills.
On the bubble: Marriotts Ridge, Oakland Mills.
<noscript><a href="http://polldaddy.com/poll/7373656/">Who will win the football county title?</a></noscript>