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What We Learned: Bayside Week 1

September 6, 2017


Welcome back to another year of reading about football in the Bayside Conference and I love writing about it. Thanks for all the support and readership. If you have any questions, comments, etc, please email me at mikeontheb@hotmail.com For those interested in the Bayside South, the ‘Bayside Blitz’ is one of the features on my weekday morning show at the beach on 92-7 WGMD, wgmd.com and the WGMD App. Ricky Pollitt from The Daily Times joins me every Friday at 740am to talk about that week’s games and news and notes.

Don’t forget if you missed any of the Overtime Live Show from Friday Night on 94-3 WINX-FM or sfmsports.net or want to replay it just check it out HERE:

After Week 1 if I had to do it Again:
I admittedly felt like I could have made some tweaks after coming out with my initial Pre-Season Power Poll. I definitely think there was an argument for a little different poll. It’s tough to be able to evaluate all the teams to a tee without making this a semi-full time job which I would love to but it don’t pay all the bills. That said if I had to do it over again with or without the Week 1 results (although it backed up my thinking on these Top 5) here is what the Top 5 would have been:

T1. North Caroline-2 Division I players, consistency, continuity, tough, good coaching
T1. Kent Island-Best Offensive Line, QB transfer the real deal, much more balanced offense, legit passing attack, very good defense, good coaching
  3. Easton-One of the Conference’s top QBs makes big difference, lots of skill guys, good coaching, line questions
  4. Queen Anne’s-Lots of graduation but solid, consistent program, tough, good coaching.  
  5. Parkside-Big expectations, tough, size, speed, big transfer in Poulson, best in the South and it’s not close. Has to prove it against the North.           

One Sided Week One:
Out of the seven games featuring conference teams, six of them were shutouts, something that hasn't happened for more than 15 years. The lone exception was JM Bennett who defeated Colonel Richardson 10-8. BTW Colonel’s 6 Turnovers (4 Fumbles and 2 Interceptions) are reminiscent of last year where turnovers greatly did in the Colonels. They have little margin for error but even the best of teams have a tough time overcoming 6 turnovers. The fact the game was close is amazing but JM Bennett could not run the ball. Their defense and special teams helped win the game. K Steve Oscar’s 42 yarder with 10 minutes left in the 4th Qtr was the difference.

Transfer QB Debut transforming Kent Island & Some Offensive History:
“Last year, we’d pass it maybe 10 times a game, and this year we can pass it 20 times, maybe 25 times,” WR Sean Mooney continued. “It’s going to open up our running game a lot.”

Alright so the headline might have been a little misleading, Coach Ferragamo may get a chuckle out of it and my understanding is ‘Ground and Pound’ is very much alive in Stevensville.  That said Trent Jackson, Riverdale Baptist transfer, the new QB for the Buccaneers has brought a new dimension to the Kent Island offense. Jackson had a successful debut albeit against Snow Hill going 12-18 for 202 yards. Jackson will face tougher opponents but made a nice first impression on Friday night. Jackson adds balance to the offense and a passing game that can take things to next level. Jackson who is from ‘The Island’ is well traveled having played on the Western Shore at Archbishop Spalding for two years before transferring to Riverdale Baptist last year before coming home to Kent Island.

Coach Damian Ferragamo told the Star Democrat:
“We liked how he threw the ball from under center,” Kent Island head coach Damian Ferragamo said. “It’s something he’s not used to, and that’s what we wanted to come and do: throw from under center, and I think he did a great job with it.

Kent Island has the best offensive line in the Conference at least early in the season and with Jackson they have more balance than they have had in a while. It’s scary to think Kent Island, long a consistent power in the Bayside could be even stronger. That said the offensive line which is still more adept at run blocking and not used to pass blocking (as much as it may get called upon like the other night) will get tougher challenges but the run game can soften the rush and vice versa. The passing game can open up the run game all depending on how the defense is playing you and how you can get them to adjust to your offense.

Here is QB Trent Jackson in The Star Democrat and WR Sean Mooney:
“We worked hard at practice, and I was able to come out here and it made it easy for me,” Jackson said. “(Mooney), he’s a great player, and I’m glad to have him. With me being in private schools, I’ve been around a lot of talent, and he’s right up there with many of the talents. He’s going to Towson for lacrosse, but he can definitely go D-1 to play football if he wanted to. “Added Mooney: “I’m loving it, because he can read the field, and it’s not just me catching the ball this year. It’s more Selby Scaggs catching the ball, J.C. Getz, since (Jackson) can throw it all around the field…

Several backs got involved in the game for Kent Island but Ferragamo said that will change, he told The Star Democrat:

“I don’t know if anyone had more than five carries today,” Ferragamo said. “It’s hard because there are a lot of people who should get the ball, but we need to try to find continuity, and we have to kind of get an identity.

In this conference having a drop back QB that has a good pocket presence and can really throw the ball is a big advantage assuming of course he gets decent protection. The Conference has had some nice QBs over the years but most of them have been called upon to manage the game, run the ball and occasionally put it in the air. Obviously having skill players to catch the ball and an offensive line that is adept at pass blocking is all apart of the equation. There certainly is not one right way to run an offense but the more balanced you are the better especially in the playoffs where the competition is top notch.

Put into perspective the Bayside Conference as a whole has not bought into the trend in high school and college these days, the Spread Offense that has different iterations. Kent Island and Queen Anne’s over the most recent years have run a Double Wing Offense like Cambridge, Colonel Richardson (also has run some Veer/Option) and JM Bennett (Bennett has flirted some with Pro Style and Spread the last few years). North Caroline has long been a Wing T team, which is what Wicomico has run for a while up until last year when new Head Coach Brian Hanson installed the Triple Option.

Parkside has been mostly a Pro Style team the last several years. They were once Spread Option about 10 years ago. Washington has run some spread and some option the last few years. Easton, Kent County (I believe ran some Wildcat and Option last year) and Stephen Decatur have been the only pretty consistent Spread Teams in the Bayside.

Speaking of QBs:
Trent Jackson might have had a nice night for Kent Island against Snow Hill in Stevensville but down in Easton, QB Mason Ledford who came into the year as the top signal caller in the Bayside had 5 TD passes against Washington. Jackson might be the “New Kid in Town” as the Eagles song goes but Ledford has no plans of relinquishing the top QB spot in the Conference. The impressive thing is Ledford hit 4 different WRs for TDs which also speaks to the offense. WR Brandon Booze was the sole recipient of multiple TD catches…Nate Lowe had an off night for Cambridge but he would probably come in at #3 if I were rating the QBs in the Conference.

Out of Nowhere:
Queen Anne’s County Safety Garrett Murray, a senior had not one but two interceptions in the Red Zone to help the Lions to a 28-0 win over Cambridge. The thing is Murray didn’t play for Queen Anne’s last year. Sometimes it’s the most unlikely players that make a big difference in the game. In addition RB Hassan Biggus who moved to their area from North Carolina made some contributions for the Lions including a 2pt conversion right before the end of the first half.

Who’s the Lions QB?
It was a bit of mystery through camp who Queen Anne’s QB would be against Cambridge-SD. Head Coach Donnie Graef said three QBs were battling for the job at media day, Senior Tyler Bonkowski, Sophomore Zack Brown and Freshman SyRus McGowan. Bonkowski got the start and McGowan got in the end which appears to signal Brown is out of the mix. Here was Head Coach Donnie Graef talking about the QB situation in the Star Democrat:

“Queen Anne’s freshman quarterback SyRus McGowan saw action under center in the fourth quarter. He drove the Lions 44 yards, rushing for four times for 22.
“Both our quarterbacks played well,” Graef said. “Tyler played really well. His throws were on the money. SyRus, the freshman, I thought he played well managing the offense. It was great to get them both in the game.”

Candid Coleman (Courtesy of The Star-Democrat):
“I have to do a better job at preparing the team,” Cambridge-SD head coach Jake Coleman said. “We made mistakes early, and those are tough to overcome against a great team like Queen Anne’s. They capitalized. That is what good teams do.

“When the momentum was up for grabs in the first half, we just had too many penalties,” Coleman added. “We are very young, but we got to eliminate the penalties. We just got to keep getting better. When you play a good team like this, you get humbled and you got to learn from it. That is coaches, players, everybody.”

Editor’s Note:

Mistakes clearly hurt Cambridge and who knows what could have been but they battled a 2A school and in this one a 14-0 deficit seemed like 28-0 which ended up being the final score. Obviously they need to clean up a lot which prevented them from putting points up but as Coleman said the defense held at the very end which showed grit, toughness and a no quit attitude for a bunch of new starters. The D did not get much help from their offense in terms of points, the offense did move the ball at times. The team is capable of playing better. The Vikings also graduated quite a few starters, 16 to be exact which is a lot for a 1A school compared to 2A Queen Anne’s who usually can endure that kind of number and regularly graduate on average 20 Seniors. The schedule is daunting but should battle test the Vikings for their 1A portion of the schedule. QB Nate Lowe needs to be bigger in games like this to help his young team around him. He has been big in the past but Week 1 is one he will want to put in the rearview mirror.

Who has the toughest schedule to start the first couple weeks of the year? There are multiple teams that have a tough start to the year. The winners are Cambridge-SD, Queen Anne’s and North Caroline. You decide who has it tougher.

Cambridge-SD kicked off the season at Queen Anne’s (never easy to win in Centreville and definitely one of the tougher environments especially come playoff time) then this week they host Woodbridge out of Delaware’s Henlopen Conference. The Blue Raiders won the Delaware Division II Championship last year. Week 3 brings North Caroline to town, one of the top tier teams in the Conference (2A State Semifinal and Regional Final Runners Up the last two years).

Queen Anne’s is also up there with one of the tougher schedules to start the season. Week 1 they hosted Cambridge-SD. In Week 2 they go to Easton and then come back home Week 3 hosting Sussex Central out of Delaware’s Henlopen Conference. Not that anyone is feeling sorry for the Lions but they graduated their entire offense and all but 3 starters off the defense.

Easton started off with Washington but has Queen Anne’s coming to town this week before three straight road games. In Weeks 3 and 4 they travel to Parkside and JM Bennett in Salisbury before going over the bridge to take on Southern of Anne Arundel County. All three games are winnable but it’s a lot of travel and even though Southern went 2-8 last year, they are a Western Shore team from Anne Arundel County. They scored 42 in their 69-42 loss to Glen Burnie in Week 1. (For whatever its worth, GB went 4-6 last year)

North Caroline has a very tough stretch Weeks 2-4 where they host Parkside in Week 2 followed by at Cambridge in Week 3 capped off by another road trip as they travel to Centreville to take on Queen Anne’s in Week 4.

The easiest start to the season goes to Kent Island who hosted Washington before two long road trip games at JM Bennett and Stephen Decatur, both very winnable before Parkside comes to Stevensville. As they say you can only play who’s on your schedule so this is no knock on the teams.

Irma Not a Factor Yet:
As I write this, Hurricane Irma is a Category 5 storm potentially impacting the state of Florida. It appears any impact from Irma on the Mid-Atlantic will not take place until the middle of next week. We always have to keep an eye on the weather living close to the coast as Hurricane Season can alter schedules and wreak havoc on playing fields as we saw two years ago when some teams ended up having to play 3 games in 10-11 days and some teams had to play at neutral sites like Snow Hill’s then new turf field stadium in order to play their games.
Week 1 in the Bayside brought us beautiful weather with cool temps that made high school football enjoyable to kick off the season.

Is Parkside For Real?
Parkside took care of business with a 42-0 win over Kent County on Saturday at County Stadium. Its step one toward what The Daily Times mentioned was state championship on the mind of the Rams. They first have to win some games against the North to even start thinking playoffs. The Kent County win was against a 1A team rebuilding and who graduated Mr. Everything in Marcquan Greene. Their opportunity to show the Bayside if they are for real comes Friday at North Caroline. This will be a big test for the Rams who have been highly touted due their size especially on the Offensive Line.

They also tout All Bayside RB Nayel Oge who may not have the shiftiness of former Parkside RB star Delonte Waters but is just as good which is saying something as Waters rushed for a little over 5,800 yards in his career at Parkside. Head Coach Brendan Riley has done a nice job building a consistent South winner that no other team has been able to duplicate in the last few years (JM Bennett slowly starting to get there). Parkside has been the one constant in an otherwise weak South. However they have not put up much of a fight against the North. I thought last year they might turn some heads but this year seems to be the year and it’s definitely do or die. Will this year be any different? We won’t know for sure however I have several good sources that tell me that coaches in the North truly believe the Rams are the real deal and think they will be very competitive. No one predicted one way or the other whether they would pull off any wins against the North but either way the fact that they have the attention of the North tells you something.

The Daily Times’ Ricky Pollitt with his thoughts on the North Caroline-Wicomico game:

Pollitt points out some concerning things for Wicomico that you can be sure Stephen Decatur will look to take advantage of on special teams and on offense. Wicomico is stressing defense this year, obviously still a work in progress:

It’s understandable that in the first game of any football season, mistakes will be made.
It’s a new group of players, a different opponent and it’s the first game action athletes have seen in nearly nine months.

However, Wi-Hi looked lost for the majority of the game, committing countless penalties and blowing assignments.

Throughout the night, the Indians struggled to keep 11 men on the field. At some points, 12 were present and other times only 10. The communication between players was not present, and there was more frustration than encouragement following a bad play.

Coming into the season, one of the biggest differences players saw between last year’s squad and this year's was discipline.

Between illegal formations, false starts and unsportsmanlike conduct, discipline was one of the last things present on Friday night.

Knox Back on the Sideline:
Bob Knox, (the 3rd most active winningest coach, 12th all-time winningest coach in Maryland High School Football, with 10 playoff appearances and four region titles. He has an overall record of 228-135.) who took a year off from coaching due to his Grandson’s brain cancer was back on the sidelines in Berlin this past Friday where he had been for every home game since 1983. That all changed last year when something much bigger than football came about in his life. Knox preaches family first and that is exactly what he did in stepping away from coaching to be with family. Defensive Coordinator Stan Mills took over the team. With graduation, two key transfers in the summer, injuries and the absence of Knox the team went 1-9. To Coach Knox’ credit he stayed away from the team and the coaches since he was not there every day and did not know all that was going on within the program. As he said it would have been unfair to do Monday morning quarterbacking given those circumstances.

I talked with Head Coach Bob Knox on the OTL Friday night and then again Monday Morning on my show on WGMD at the beach. Knox told me he received text updates on the games on Friday nights and watched game film throughout last season. I asked him what went through his mind before this past Friday’s game with Arcadia from the Eastern Shore of Virginia and he said his “Grandson”. Knox said his grandson loves football and he hopes he can eventually get out to a game this year. What would have been his 34th year coaching this year is his 33rd with taking last year off. The Seahawks rallied around their coach and they defeated Arcadia 44-0. The numbers in the program are up and despite returning just 5 starters with very little experience at QB at any level it appears that the program is in better shape last year. That said this year will still be an uphill battle but nothing like what his Grandson faces every day. Knox said the latest test is encouraging but this will be a day to day battle for little Eli.  

Knox said he was very appreciative of all the support from the Bayside community in helping to raise money for his grandson’s treatment last year.

Here is an article from last year on Coach Knox stepping away from the game

Here is an article from last year on Coach Knox returning to the game

Anyone Wanna Play QB at Stephen Decatur:
In talking with Coach Knox about the game I asked him to clear up the question of who was playing QB for the Seahawks. Last year’s QB Quinn Ebaugh did not come out for the team this year leaving them with almost no QBs with any experience on the roster. Nate McIntyre who was interviewed for Media Day for WBOC was introduced as the guy getting a chance to win the job.


(http://sports.wboc.com/featured-sports/knox-returns-inexperienced-stephen-decatur-team/) As it turns out McIntyre left the team about 9 practices in leaving the Seahawks scrambling. Knox said they had to revamp the offense with little time before the start to the season to adjust. Dominic Klebe takes over the reins for Decatur. Klebe started a few games last year according to Knox who is waiting for his best RB Sophomore Devin Waters to come back in Week 4. Water is currently out due to academic issues.


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