With half the county currently holding a 1-1 record after two weeks, a win or loss in week 3 could be the starting point of defining a team's season.
Two of those teams — Hammond and Mt. Hebron — are facing off against one another on Sept. 18, and each squad is coming off differing week 2 results.
The Golden Bears dominated Centennial in a 40-0 week 1 victory, but struggled against Marriotts Ridge on Sept. 11 in a 20-6 defeat. The Vikings, meanwhile, lost a 12-6 heartbreaker to Long Reach in week 1 before beating Centennial, 14-13, last week.
Both teams are looking to find some consistency, and to build momentum for the rest of the season.
"Well you certainly want to get on the other side of .500. That's for sure," said Mt. Hebron coach Phil Zacharias. "You just try to get steady improvement from your players and more game experience and maturity, and a little better understanding of the system."
The Vikings know they have their work cut out for them against Hammond. They know the talent the Golden Bears have, and that it will take a better showing than they've had in the first two weeks to come out on top.
"Well, they have an aggressive defense, so we really have our hands full with how they play defense," Zacharias said. "They're fast and athletic, so we're going to have to do a good job of really understanding what they're trying to do and to execute what we like to do. Offensively, they have a running quarterback. Our guy can run, but he's not necessarily like another running back, whereas their quarterback is like another running back. So that's another element we have to deal with."
As for their keys to victory, Zacharias points to correcting the simple mental errors and to stop shooting themselves in the foot.
"I think we have to minimize some of the mistakes that we made that kept us from being in control of our last game," he said. "We definitely have to cut down on our penalties. ... It short-circuited some of our drives."
Hammond coach Justin Carey knows his team could play much better than it did against the Mustangs. He says the keys to victory against the Vikings are to keep up the tempo on offense, ball security, and to get all 11 players to the ball on defense.
"Expectations (this week) are to play sound defense all the way throughout the game, because that was our issue against Marriotts Ridge," Carey said. "We had to make some adjustments in the first half to what we were seeing, and our guys started getting away from what we practice. We want to play fast on offense and hold onto the football. We had a costly turnover in the first half last week, and we want defensive consistency."
Carey also pointed out that Mt. Hebron quarterback Ricky Williams, as well as running back Brennen White, could cause problems for his defense.
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"Their quarterback, he's an athlete who can run," he said. "If the pass isn't there, he'll scramble. They look like they have some decent skill players, too."
Hammond (1-1) at Mt. Hebron (1-1)
Atholton (1-1) at Reservoir (0-2)
Oakland Mills (2-0) at Centennial (0-2)
Glenelg (0-2) at Wilde Lake (1-1)
River Hill (1-1) at Howard (2-0)
Marriotts Ridge (2-0) at Long Reach (1-1)