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What We Learned: Week 2

September 13, 2017

 

Welcome to our Week 2 recap of football in the Bayside Conference. 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:

 

100th Win of McCormick:

North Caroline Head Coach James McCormick earned his 100th win of his career with the Bulldogs in convincing fashion, a 49-6 win over 2A playoff contender the Parkside Rams. After the game McCormick was quoted in the Star Democrat talking about the accomplishment:

 

“We reached this milestone because of players, coaches, parents and community members that have come through this school and supported this program,” he said. “I’ve been extremely blessed to work with outstanding coaches over the years…“I may receive credit for the win, but the real credit belongs to players, coaches and community,” he added. “I’m just incredibly proud and honored to be a part of it.”

 

McCormick told me on the OTL when asked what 100 wins means to him is “I’ve been coaching a long time.” LOL…As I told him, I was very happy to cover one of the biggest parts of his career in 2015 when the Bulldogs got to the Region Finals before losing a heartbreaker at home to Walkersville 17-14. That was so much fun for me on the Bulldogs sidelines in Ridgely. It was a neat experience for me to witness the pageantry, the excitement, the school pride and the program going places it had not been to before. The 2015 season in which they went undefeated at 10-0, won their first playoff game and went to the Region Final for the first time in school history is one I know he won’t forget and I certainly will not as well.

 

While Stephen Decatur Head Coach Bob Knox has over double the wins and about twice the amount of years coached, McCormick in his 17th year is considered one of the best. His program is known for their continuity, consistency and toughness. The Wing-T offense and 4-4 Defense has been a staple in Ridgely and is not going anywhere anytime soon. We appreciate Coach McCormick’s contribution to OTL, he is usually our first coach up on the hotline like clockwork after our ‘Game of the Week’ unless North Caroline is our game of the week. With two Division I Players on the roster, this will be a very important year to try and max out the team as much as possible because players like Franklin and Bailey don’t come along often. Here is to another 100 wins for Coach McCormick, however I am sure Coach is only thinking about the next game and that’s at Cambridge.

 

North Caroline, Keeping the North On Top in Battle versus Parkside:

Technically speaking there is no Bayside North or South anymore. The teams are classified by their populations and its broken down 1A, 2A /3A. There is the Salisbury championship between Wicomico, Parkside and JM Bennett, their own version of the Commander’s Cup if you will which pits the three service academies against one another (Navy, Army and Air Force). Most of the schools in the North are in the 2A so that is one most mentioned. Those of us in the media still refer to the North and South however using the Vienna Bridge as the dividing point. As we all know the North has dominated the South the last several years. In fact I cannot remember the last South team that has a win over one of the top North teams. I think a few years ago Stephen Decatur played Kent Island real tough on the road but they did not win. Wicomico played Kent Island tough back when the Indians were coached by Dave Nettles but they never won including blowing a 14-0 lead in a playoff game in Stevensville with less 2 minutes left in the game. That will always go down as the craziest ending to a high school game that I have ever seen.

 

Parkside coming in with a big offensive line, All Bayside RB Nayel Oge, transfer WR Tyler Poulson and a returning QB was thought to be a legitimate threat to the North this year. The thinking about Parkside was not just in the media but also among some coaches. It never materialized this past Friday night.

North Caroline led 49-0 midway through the 2nd Quarter. It was over almost right away. The Bulldogs scored 35 points alone in the 2nd quarter. I thought that in order to win Parkside would need to make some big plays in the passing game and not turnover the ball on special teams.

 

I had my questions about the defense but you knew North Caroline was going to get theirs but a successful Parkside offense would keep the defense off the field enough and possibly even give them a boost. It would also keep the NC offense off the field.

 

The worst scenario happened for Parkside that you could play out, North Caroline gets the ball first and scores, Parkside ends up punting on their first series, Caroline scores again then uses some trickery and at that point the offense has the ball for 3 of the first 4 possessions. Down 21-0 it’s darn tough to come back on the road when the defense knows you have to pass.

 

The Bulldogs scored on their first drive thanks to a long run by Bailey. Bailey would score on a 10 yard TD, it came on a 4th and 3 no less. On the second series Bailey helped move the ball on another 4th down play and then on yet another 4th down play scored a TD. NC then recovered an onside kick and scored again helped by another 4th down conversion. Two of the four 4th down conversions were done through the air which maybe as surprising as them going for it. An interception and a three out by the Rams offense led to North Caroline going up 35-0.

 

I talked with Head Coach Brenden Riley on Monday about the game. He made no excuses about the game. Riley told me that his team needs to make plays in the moment and in this case on those 4th down plays. Riley felt like his defense was aligned pretty well and that his interior defense was good. He said one of Bailey’s long runs came when he was stopped at point of attack and reversed field and took off. Riley said and I am paraphrasing here-Look Bailey is a Division I back, you’re going to expect him to make plays and that sometimes you just have to tip your cap, it doesn’t mean that your defense is really bad, it’s just he is really good. Coach Riley also said that his defense though has to do a better job “picking gaps”. When I asked him what he meant when he said that the defense needs to do a better job fighting through the direction that offensive line is trying to take them (where the play is going). Offensively they had the ball very little early on and then they were a in a big hole quickly and it makes it tough when you have to become more one dimensional. In addition North Caroline’s defensive front is one of the best in the conference.

 

Easton Injuries Change the Season & Early Indicator:

The Warriors not only lost to Queen Anne’s on Friday night they have also may have lost three key contributors for an unspecified amount of time. Due to HIPPA Laws we cannot disclose their current condition. You will just have to find out on Friday when Easton plays at Parkside. If all three are out for any extended period of time that significantly changes Easton’s season. QB Mason Ledford was carted off and taken to Easton Memorial in what appeared to be a leg and or ankle injury. This would be the biggest blow of the three. Last year Ledford threw for 2,042 and 21 TDs…Freshman Jarin Winters took over and went 5-9-39yds, his first pass though was an interception. However his arm was hit on the play partially. He also had a TD pass. Note: His passes were shuttle passes to Tajhiere Nixon. Head Coach Matt Griffith said after the game on his Freshman QB:

 

“Jarin Winters being thrown into a tough situation did a great job,” Griffith said. “He’s going to be fine.”

 

RB Connor Butler sustained a collarbone injury. He had a big game against Washington in Week One. Now you may say to that so what, well before he left the game late in the 4th Quarter against QA-he had a team high 121 yards on 17 carries. Butler who is a senior is/was their starting back in backfield of three so if his out the Warriors will turn to Junior Tre Banks and Sophomore Thatcher Knox.

WR Ryan Farr sustained an ankle injury and even though he had a nice game against Washington, this probably hurts the least with all due respect to Farr. Farr was the Warriors third WR. Easton still has All-Bayside Tahjiere Nixon and #2 Brandon Booze. They have five other guys at the position for depth including Sophomore Marquii Thompson who had a TD Week 1.

 

I could go into a million scenarios however I will not here. Given the fact the South is still very much in a rebuilding mold in general, they should still have a chance against the Wicomico’s, Bennett’s and Decatur’s of the world. Those are no givens and anyone else is almost a given a loss. Let’s just go with the worst case scenario that all three are done for a long period of time or for the year. If Easton can help Winters get some rapport and consistency with his receivers that will help greatly. However they will need to give him a lot better protection. If it turns out they cannot protect Winters to get the ball to their quality WR crop than those guys will be wasted the rest of the year. If RB Connor Butler is out for a long period of time that’s one less RB to throw at defenses. At least one of those RB’s left, Thatcher Knox plays defense.

This Easton QB scenario is very much like 2013 when Jaelon Moaney went down to injury his Junior year and Freshman TJ Nixon took over at QB. Nixon would go on to be an excellent receiver and in 2015 after starting out at QB, Head Coach Matt Griffith turned over the reins to Mason Ledford and moved Nixon to WR. The crazy thing is though in that 2013 season Nixon would go on to lead the Warriors to an upset of Cambridge-SD 21-14 and a near miss in the playoffs in the first round on the road at Fallston, a 27-21 loss. It was probably one of the best performances by a Freshman QB in Bayside history. David Insley can weigh in on that.

 

If the first series was any indication of the way the rest of the game was going to go than Mason Ledford was going to have very little time to throw the football thus eliminating his arm and talented WRs. He ended up having to take off on the first two plays of the games which were pass plays and on third play in which he got hurt when they ran a QB Draw given the apparent penetration the Lions were getting early. After some early success, Easton was not able to run the ball much either. Queen Anne’s though as you would assume brought pressure right out of the gate.

 

The Easton defense hung in and had a bend don’t break type day allowing 338 total rushing yards but other than a late score by Queen Anne’s which made it 27-10, kept the Warriors in the game. Head Coach Matt Griffith after the game told The Star Democrat:

 

“I think defensively we were on the field 17 or 18 minutes in the second half,” Griffith said. “We needed to tackle a little bit better, but we were there so many times, right where we needed to be. They’ve got some good athletes and are a well-coached team. But until late in the fourth quarter it was still 20-10.”

 

Queen Anne’s Offense Finding Its Way:

The Lions defeated Easton 27-10 however despite 338 yards on the ground was unable to score more points off of it. Their last score came late in the game when it was well decided at that point. Credit the Easton defense but it’s also a Queen Anne’s offense that graduated all 11 starters from last year. While Senior Tyler Bonkowski got the start, SyRus McGowan saw a lot of time in the second half. Head Coach Donnie Graef thinks highly of the Freshman McGowan and clearly wants to get him experience early on in the season especially in a game that despite the score the Lions seemed to have in hand.

 

After the game Graef talked about his offense to The Star Democrat:

 

“Inconsistent is a good word for it…We’re just trying to get a feel for what’s going to be that starting 11. We really don’t have a feel for it right now, but we’ll figure it out I guess as time goes on. Just trying to put the pieces together, trying to get the right pieces on the field for the majority of the game.”

 

Different start to the year for Cambridge:

No one is used to seeing Cambridge at 0-2 in the standings but after two tough opponents out of the gate and another coming this week, it’s been a different start to the year for the Vikings. Cambridge went on the road to Queen Anne’s Week 1 and then hosted Woodbridge, the defending Delaware Division II State Champion in Week 2. This week North Caroline comes to town. The fact that Cambridge graduated 16 starters last year has added to the challenge for Head Coach Jake Coleman.

 

Coleman told the Star Democrat:

“Cambridge-SD head coach Jake Coleman stressed that two poor outings to begin the season doesn’t necessarily make a trend, but also emphasized his team’s need to start playing smarter, more disciplined football.”…“It’s not like we’re playing the little School of the Poor or something,” Coleman said of the early season gambit. “We’re playing two quality opponents, two opponents that I think are going to be eight-, nine-win teams, possibly ... and we’ve made mistakes."

 

The tough competition to start the season should battle test the Vikings in a positive way getting them ready for the 1A portion of their schedule, which will not nearly be as difficult. The Vikings should still find themselves in the playoffs although it may not be the #1 or 2 seed their used to, however these games early should also help them go on the road in the playoffs against good 1A teams.

 

Harding Not the Issue:

Despite throwing five interceptions in the first two games, Cambridge-SD QB Tyler Harding has the full support of his Head Coach.

 

Coleman explains why the stats can be deceiving including this past week’s game:

“When everybody knows that you have to pass, you’re getting softer coverages,” Coleman said. “Then guys are able to blitz and pin their ears back. I have all the faith in the world in Tyler Harding; he’s playing much better than people probably realize. He is not the problem. He’s one of the solutions.”

 

One sided Week Two, No Shutouts:

After a week in which the Conference had 6 shutouts, out of 7 games there were no shutouts in Week 2. We did have a low scoring game where Wicomico defeated Stephen Decatur 8-3 and North Caroline defeated Parkside 49-6 where we came close to a shutout. However by score, 4 of the 7 games were blowouts although Colonel Richardson-Snow Hill was close in the first half. Ricky Pollitt of The Daily Times opined as to whether this year is the year of the defense with the amount of shutouts in Week 1.

 

Here is the article

 

While defense is important and I know Wicomico is stressing defense this year, the Week 1 scores can be explained by matchups and not necessarily it being a dominating defensive year. I sense the defensive games or low scoring games we get from the South are more product of lesser offense than good defense.

 

Tough Schedules:

Last week we went through teams with tough schedules to start the year and a team omitted but certainly not on purpose was Kent County. The Trojans opened up on the road at the best team in the South in Parkside in Salisbury. Then in Week 2 had to travel to Princess Anne to take on Washington this past Friday, an even longer ride against a team going in that was thought to be their equal or slightly less. This coming Week 3, they have to go on the road to Kent Island. The trip is a lot closer however the opponent is the toughest of the three. This year they are without Marcquan Greene who graduated along with some other key graduations so the task even tougher.

 

Bottom End of the Conference, a big puzzle:

There were a few games that sorted out some things in the Bayside South this past week. However I have to be honest, it’s very tough to figure out who truly is better than another. Wicomico defeated Stephen Decatur 8-3 this past Friday in a close one as I thought it would be. Was it great defense or bad offense, I tend to think it’s more on the offense. Snow Hill gave Colonel a game in the first half. Washington pulled off a win at home over Kent County in what I thought was a slight upset. That said Kent County was missing some key players to injury and grades issues. Parkside which is still rated #4 was blown out by North Caroline but I still feel is the best in the South. Even though Colonel fell 10-8 to JM Bennett I am not so sure they aren’t still the better team. If you take away just 1 or 2 of their 6 turnovers, I think they win that game. I honestly don’t know if Decatur is better than Washington or Colonel this year and I never thought I would say that when talking about a 3A compared to some 1As. Given what has happened to Washington and better numbers for Snow Hill, the Eagles may be a lot closer to the Jags than what was initially going to be the case. Wicomico and JM Bennett is a toss-up right now. When looking at my Power Poll if you want to tell me you think things could be a little different at the bottom I am not going to argue with you.

 

Snow Hill-Colonel:

Colonel Richardson ended up defeating Snow Hill 47-14 but this game was a close one in the first half. Despite the slight advantage in numbers the Colonels pulled away. My understanding is Colonel’s conditioning is better than Snow Hill’s and that was a big factor.

 

That said Colonel Head Coach Dan Magnum said of Snow Hill via The Star Democrat:

But Snow Hill — they played a great first half,” Mangum added. “They’re a much improved team over last year. Last year, they had 14, 15 guys, maybe, and we ended up stopping the game because they ran out of healthy players. [Tonight], they actually dressed more players than we did. They had 25, and we ... had 22 guys dress for the game.”

 

 

Snow Hill may have scored 21 points but were unable to capitalize on the second of back to back Colonel Turnovers (and penalties) which continue to plague them.

 

“I thought some penalties there early hurt us,” Mangum said. “There in the second half, we turned it on, [but] I think we came out flat. ... It’s a long road trip; not making excuses, but we handled them pretty well last year, and I thought maybe our kids thought, ‘maybe Snow Hill was going to roll over for us. And they certainly didn’t do that.”

 

We also found out from the game that Colonel is without the services of their starting place kicker, junior Remy Mangum, who’s out for the season with a stress fracture in his back. QB Jake Zebron is filling the shoes on PAT kicks.

 

Snow Hill Head Coach Tim Richo talked about his team’s current situation:

Our depth isn’t really a good depth. Once we get a starting player who needs a breather, or a couple guys who roll their ankles, the reality is a lot of the younger players aren’t able to make the big plays of that starting 11."

 

Richo added, though, that he’s more than happy with his team’s progress. “This is my third year with pretty much the same group of guys,” he said, “so now we’re a little more mature. ... I think they’re buying into it; I think we came out the first half and played great. But once we get a couple bodies getting fatigued... it puts us in a very bad position.”

 

Speaking of Snow Hill depth, it used to be the case that they had a few players from Pocomoke on their roster since Pocomoke does not have a football team. When you’re talking about a 1A school in Snow Hill, one of if not the smallest in the state of Maryland, five players can make a big difference. Over the years due to the rise of the one sport athlete (Pocomoke usually has a very good basketball team) and the fact that kids don’t want to make the trip and do one semester at one school and a second semester at another, that pipelines has dried up for the Eagles.

 

Decatur Offensive Issues-Petit Sparks Wicomico:

Wicomico defeated Stephen Decatur 8-3 last Friday in Berlin. The SD Seahawks did not get off to a good start against Wicomico with three fumbles early on in the game although two were recovered. They also lost RB Tahjeem Woodland with a leg injury in this one, a position they were already a little thin at to being with.

 

Down 8-3 late in the game a Wicomico TO around the SD 20 gave the Seahawks the ball but Wicomico CB Josh Shockley sealed the win with an interception.

 

Decatur Kicker John Ford hit a FG late in first half to give the Seahawks their only points of the game. Ford would later miss a FG in the third quarter.

 

QB LeQuan Petit would score the only points for Wicomico with a 10yd TD run, the TD was preceded by a 36 yard Petit run. The Indians would convert the 2 point conversion.

 

Kent County Short Handed Against Washington:

The Trojans played Friday’s game against Washington without RB Brandon Jones, RB/LB Silas Phillips and TE/LB Donnie Forgan. We also learned that KC is short of some players due to grades issues. This year Kent County has just 4 seniors and only two are playing. They also played 2 on offense and 2 on defense. QB Peyton Taylor was moved to LB for the first half and they started Freshman Thomas Goldsborough. To make matters worse Kent County had two TDs called back because of holding. They fell to Washington 33-31 to drop to 0-2.

 

 

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