Before we take a brief look at this weekend's county high school football openers, let's review a few items.
North County fans will be delighted to know that returning All-County senior guard Jarryn Avery can play in the Knights home and season opener tonight against Eleanor Roosevelt of Prince George's County.
How many remember Avery being ejected for fighting in his final game last fall, a 27-0 state 4A semifinal loss to Crossland of
Avery and Crossland's star running back Lawrence Stukes were ejected, and according to state rules must sit out the next game. Stukes sat out the next game and Crossland lost the state final to Gaithersburg, 39-21.
So, what about Avery? Does his penalty carry over into this season?
"I spoke with Rick Wiles [county coordinator of physical education], and he said because it's not the same year, there wouldn't be any problem with him playing," said North County coach Chuck Markiewicz.
Also, Markiewicz and his Knights had a rule named just for them -- the North County rule. The clock will keep running on out-of-bounds and incomplete pass plays when one team is leading the other by 35 points or more.
Under Markiewicz's run-and-shoot offense, North County rolled up 39 points or more six times and scored 427 points in 12 games (35.6 per game).
That's not all that is new for the coaches this season. When packing their gear, they must remember to have extra uniforms and white towels only for their centers.
Under what the coaches are calling "the blood rule," a player has to change his uniform if he starts to bleed. The purpose is to prevent any chance of transmitting disease.
"What it means is bringing one pair of small, medium, large and extra-large pants, and the same for jerseys, because who's to say what size kid could start bleeding," said Southern coach Buck Gardner.
Any center who wears a towel for the quarterback to keep his hands dry during sloppy conditions must make sure that the towel is white.
Let's get to the games:
As mentioned, North County (10-2 last year) is home at 7 tonight against Roosevelt (4-6), and it will be interesting to watch Justin Rice at quarterback and Mike Drocella at ace back. New names, but the same results are what Knights fans can expect. Keep that clock running.
Broadneck (6-4) opens as a Class 3A school on the road at 4A Old Mill (2-8) at 7:30 tonight in the only contest matching county schools. The Bruins could be explosive with 6-foot-7 senior quarterback Sean Ryan, who is a pro prospect as a baseball pitcher.
Old Mill should be much improved, but its secondary will be tested early when Ryan starts dumping off to the likes of returning All-County receiver Jason Smith.
Defending county champion Annapolis (8-0, 10-2) entertains Largo (7-3) of Prince George's County at 7:30 tonight. This should be an exciting game because these two are the teams to beat in their counties.
Meade (2-8) begins the Jerry Hartman era at 7 tonight against Laurel (8-3), another top Prince George's team. Hartman begins his first season as Mustangs coach after 21 years of college experience as an assistant, and his 'Stangs rank as the county sleeper.
Perennial 4A contender Severna Park (6-4) opens at 7:30 tonight on the Eastern Shore at Queen Anne's (3-7), and the visiting Falcons will be out to get even with the Lions. Last fall Queen Anne's knocked off Severna Park for the first time, 19-16.
Other games tonight at 7:30 are Owings Mills (5-5) at Chesapeake (3-7) and Glen Burnie (4-6) at DuVall (1-9). At 7, Catoctin (3-7) takes on Archbishop Spalding (3-7) at Brooklyn Park, and Arundel (3-7) travels to Northern (6-4) of Calvert County. St. Mary's (8-2) opens at 4 p.m. at Weems Whelan in Annapolis against Nansemond-Suffolk (Va.).
There are four games tomorrow involving county schools: South River (7-3) at Lackey (5-5), at 1 p.m.; Southern (6-4) at Hammond (6-4), and Northeast (3-7) at Atholton (3-7), both at 1:30; and Severn (8-2) plays host to John Carroll (1-9), at 2