Football previews


Long Reach (3-3) at No. 6 Howard (6-0)

When: 7: 30 tonight

Outlook: A big crowd is expected for this neighborhood rivalry, which has lost a little of its luster because Long Reach unexpectedly has struggled this season. When these teams meet, however, the records can be discarded. Howard is 0-3 against Long Reach, losing last season, 37-14, and is especially hungry for its first victory over the Lightning. The Lions are averaging 28.5 points a game, many created off big plays, especially by the defense; the Lions have a 26-4 turnover ratio. Howard wants to maintain its top ranking in the Class 2A South region. Long Reach's offense has yet to break out against a strong team, but its defense has allowed just 64 points, two more than Howard's. Howard is coming off a 42-6 victory over Hammond in which Travis Irving rushed 12 times for 104 yards, giving him 515 yards on 72 carries this season. Long Reach is reeling from a 20-14 defeat to Wilde Lake.

No. 8 Oakland Mills (5-1) at No. 10 Wilde Lake (5-1)

When: 2 p.m. tomorrow

Outlook: This is a classic defense vs. offense matchup with the loser, especially if it is Wilde Lake, suffering heavy damage in the playoff race. Defending Class 1A state champion Oakland Mills has scored only seven TDs in its last five games but managed to win four of them, each by less than a touchdown, twice by a point. The Scorpions' defense, however, is the best in the league, having surrendered just 48 points this season. QB J. T. Rembert's 93-yard TD run saved Oakland Mills last week in a 9-3 win over Mount Hebron. Oakland Mills is top-ranked in the Class 1A South region. Wilde Lake averages 27 points, second-best in the county. Mario Merrills leads the Wildecats with 531 yards rushing and nine TDs on 84 carries. The Wildecats' defense seems vulnerable despite two shutouts, giving up 33 points to Howard. The Wildecats are ranked No. 2 in the Class 3A East region, far behind Annapolis, and are only seventh in the race for four wild-card playoff spots.

Atholton (1-5) at Mount Hebron (1-5)

When: 2 p.m. tomorrow

Outlook: The records aren't impressive but both teams are capable of playing some tough football. Improving Atholton held River Hill to one first-half TD last week before losing 35-0. And Mount Hebron lost last week to No. 8 Oakland Mills by a touchdown, 9-3. The Vikings earlier gave Howard its toughest game this season before losing 19-7. Atholton has scored just 33 points, and the Vikings have tallied only 52. The Vikings do have a decent offensive line that could take control. If not, look for a turnover or a big play to decide it. Mount Hebron defeated Atholton, 39-6, last season.

Centennial (2-4) at River Hill (4-2)

When: 2 p.m. tomorrow

Outlook: After last week's 35-0 victory over Atholton, River Hill continues with the soft part of its schedule against a Centennial team that has scored a total of 12 points in its last three games. Jason Fawcett rushed for 143 yards last week and leads the county with 690 yards. River Hill defeated Centennial last season, 12-7.

Hammond (1-5) at Glenelg (3-3)

When: 2 p.m. tomorrow

Outlook: A quality Glenelg squad marks homecoming this week after defeating Centennial last week, 31-0. The Gladiators have scored 153 points, third-best in the county behind Howard (171) and Wilde Lake (163). QB Zack McQuigg has completed 84 of 140 passes for 1,392 yards and 14 TDs. Hammond has struggled against quality opponents, including a 42-6 loss to Howard last week. Glenelg defeated Hammond last season, 26-0.

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