Football Top 5: A look at No. 3 River Hill
River Hill lost to Atholton last season, but the Hawks won't face the Raiders in the regular season this year. (Brian Krista / Patuxent Publishing / September 16, 2011)
Tomorrow, we will reveal the No. 2 team in the morning and the No. 1 team in the afternoon. The entire Top 15 poll, along with a look at the top players to watch, will be published Friday in The Baltimore Sun and on baltimoresun.com.
For a look at No. 5 Dunbar and No. 4 McDonogh, click on them.
3. River Hill
Coach: Brian Van Deusen
Last season: 12-2, No. 5
Post season: Class 3A state champion
Key players: RB-S Evan Griffin, Sr.; RB-LB Stephan Osong, Sr.; RB-LB Justin Arn, Sr.; OL-DE Justin Nestor, Sr.; QB Austin Altman, Sr.; OL Logan Kirby, Jr.; SE-CB Nick Ball, Sr.; HB-DB Noah Carter, Sr.
Outlook: The Hawks have enjoyed great success with three state championships in the last five years, six regional titles in seven years and nine straight trips to the playoffs. Their record over the last decade is 112-13 with only Dunbar notching more victories, 116.
Last season, the Hawks came back from a 2-2 start after losses to Long Reach and Atholton. That cost them the Howard County title but they rebounded with 10 straight wins, including a 21-12 regional final victory over archrival Atholton. The Hawks defeated Thomas Johnson, 41-13, in the state title game.
This fall, the Hawks return five starters on each side of the ball, but they have many players back who gained experience throughout the season coming off the bench.
“In our case winning a state championships and having a lot of guys play, they want to do it again,” Van Deusen said, “and then you have the younger kids coming up and looking to take the spots vacated by the seniors. Winning the state championship, obviously leads into a good off season. The guys are committed, they’re enthusiastic and they want to keep it going and do it again.”
The Hawks graduated All-Metro second team running back Aaron Wells, who rushed for 1,066 yards and 18 touchdowns, but they should have no trouble keeping the running attack rolling. Griffin and Osong will carry on. Both started last season with Griffin running for 650 yards and 11 touchdowns and Osong, also a standout linebacker, running for 364 yards and five touchdowns.
One major disappointment this season is their schedule. They won’t play Atholton during the regular season. Both sides – and most of Howard County – look forward to the matchup every year. This season, their only hope is to meet in the regional playoffs.
The omission comes from random computerized scheduling.
“Our kids are disappointed,” Van Deusen said. “You look at that game the last three years and it’s been real competitive and years before that we’ve been able to have a pretty good game. Atholton’s been pretty strong for the last decade. That’s a local game. A lot of our kids went to middle school together, but there’s a good chance we’ll see them in the playoffs like we have two of the last three years.”