Are the sixth-ranked Gilman Greyhounds a legitimate contender for the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference football title?
After yesterday's sluggish 17-6 win over Calvert Hall, the results are inconclusive.
Although the host Greyhounds raised their record to 4-0, 3-0 in the A Conference, their ball-control offense may not be enough to challenge top-ranked City when the two meet Friday.
Yesterday, however, against an inexperienced Calvert Hall team, was enough to do the trick. Though the Greyhounds gained just 131 yards on offense, they took advantage of a number of Calvert Hall miscues to score 17 unanswered points after falling behind, 6-0.
"This was a typical Gilman game," said Gilman coach Sherm Bristow. "We punched the ball up the field, played well defensively and took advantage of their mistakes."
Gilman's defense, which hasn't allowed a point, came up with three interceptions to set up scores.
The first came near the end of the first half, when Bryan Smith picked off an underthrown pass by Calvert Hall quarterback Dennis Grinestaff and returned it 31 yards to the Cardinals' 13.
"I got a good jump on the ball, and when it was underthrown, I just stepped in front of the receiver," said Smith, also the punter, whose blocked punt recovered in the end zone earlier in the quarter gave Calvert Hall its only touchdown. "I felt responsible. I just wanted to make up for it."
Four plays later, Ned Dukehart scored from a yard out and Mike Allan added the point-after to give the Greyhounds a 7-6 lead.
Though the Greyhounds gained just 33 yards in the half, they went into the intermission with the lead.
On Calvert Hall's first possession of the second half, the Greyhounds' defense struck again. Jamie Biddison made his first of two interceptions to set up a 21-yard touchdown pass from Mark Cornes to Dylan Schlott, increasing the lead to 14-6.
Biddison then got his second interception early in the fourth quarter, setting up a 28-yard field goal for Allan to make the score 17-6 with 6:09 left in the game.
For Calvert Hall (1-3, 1-1), which had outplayed Gilman for much of the first half, it was another case of missed opportunities.
"Our mistakes killed us," said Cardinals coach Bill Mackley. "We really blew every opportunity. We have a very young team, and until we mature, we're going to make mistakes."
For Gilman, 5-4 a year ago, the focus shifts to Friday's visit to City. There, the Greyhounds will have the opportunity to prove that their 4-0 start is no fluke.
"City is going to be a battle," said Schlott. "If we come together and play like we did in the second half [yesterday], we'll have a shot. This team is for real."
Bristow said that Gilman must improve offensively to have a shot at knocking off the Knights.
"Today we beat a good team that plays hard," he said, "but we still have a lot to work on. If we come together, offensively, things could get interesting."
Calvert Hall 0 6 0 0 -- 6
Gilman 0 7 7 3 -- 17