Welcome to the Week 6 recap of football in the Bayside Conference. Thanks for all the support and readership. If you have any questions, comments, etc, please email me.
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.
Time once again to look at playoff points
The 1A Havre De Grace surprising win (as it pertains to margin of win and the fact that it was at Elkton) over 2A Elkton 39-14 certainly helped out North Caroline, Kent Island and Harford Tech all in the 1, 2, 3 spots above them in the 2A East Region. All three were winners on Friday night as well.
This we know, North Caroline should win three of their next four games no problem. The Kent Island game will be their only tough test left and that game is at home. At worst they go 9-1.
Beyond this week in a non-conference game against Top 25 Oakdale (Frederick), Kent Island also has a big matchup against North Caroline in Week 9 before they finish the season in Week 10 at Queen Anne’s. While they will be favored against Queen Anne’s (and that is no gimme at Centreville with a Lions team that will have had 9 games of experience by that game) they will be underdogs against Oakdale and North Caroline. I say at worst they go 8-2 but that might drop them to a #4 seed where they would play their first playoff game on the road.
-Elkton now at 5-1 had come in undefeated along with Havre De Grace at 5-0 has another big match up this time at North Harford who is 4-2. N. Harford came in as the #5 seed with Elkton as the #4 seed. Elkton still has a good C. Milton Wright on their schedule, a 3A Aberdeen team that’s 3-3 right now and 3-3 Fallston. That’s a tough stretch to predict. It’s really up in the air, they could be 8-2 or 7-3. The likely losses would be to C. Milton Wright and or Aberdeen. You can never count out Fallston and Head Coach Dave Cesky either.
-Looking at 6-0 Harford Tech’s schedule, the next two games, this week against 4-2 Bo Manor and next week against 5-1 Perryville will be some good matchups and games they could lose before finishing out the year in winnable games against Rising Sun and Joppatowne.
*There very well could be three 8-2 teams in the #2-4 seeds and it will come down to possible single points. It should be interesting.
-JM Bennett is sitting nicely in the #2 seed in the 3A East with 38 points just behind Atholton of Howard County who is 5-1 with 38.80 points. Now despite their #2 seed, Chesapeake of AA is not too far behind at 36 points. The team in the #4 spot, Long Reach (Howard County) has just 20.80 points with Northeast-AA nipping at their heels on the outside looking in at 20 points. The schedule gets tougher with Queen Anne’s and North Caroline back to back which very well could be losses so the great 5-1 start was so important and can help them sustain some probable losses. Their last two games against Decatur and Wicomico, while not gimmes are definitely winnable. The thing that should help Bennett is Atholton & Long Reach only play a 9 game schedule this year so their margin of error is shrunk. I think you are probably looking at the Clippers being able to finish no worse than a #3 seed but probably will stay in the #2 seed based on the following:
-Atholton at 5-1 has Mt. Hebron, Howard and Long Reach left on their schedule. Two of the three are winnable against Mt. Hebron and Long Reach however Howard is very likely a loss. That means they are likely to finish the year at 8-1.
-Chesapeake-AA at 4-2 has Old Mill, Arundel, Southern and Northeast-AA left. They are likely to finish out the season in those games 2-2 or 1-3 which would put them at 6-4 or 5-5.
-Long Reach at 3-2 has Marriott’s Ridge, Mt. Hebron, Reservoir and Atholton left on their schedule. They probably will finish out the season at 2-2 or 3-1 which would put them at 6-3 or 5-4.
-Stephen Decatur at 2-4 is a long shot here. Looking at what is left on their schedule, Easton, Parkside, Bennett and Snow Hill. All of those games are winnable for them but they have not shown enough consistency on offense to make me feel confident. Their defense should be solid against these teams. It would be a great story if Decatur went from 1-9 last year to 5-5 or 6-4 this year and make the playoffs.
In the 1A East Cambridge right now has the #4 spot with Colonel Richardson right behind them in the #5 spot on the outside looking in trailing by 3 points. Cambridge has what should be one of those in the middle type contests. Their opponent in Wicomico is right in the middle of the tough opponents they played to start the year and the easier opponents they have had in the last three weeks. The win over Colonel on the road was big with QB Tyler Harding. After Wicomico they have winnable games in Kent County and Snow Hill. The Vikings play on the road at Easton at the end of the year. That game ought to be very interesting with potentially a lot on the line for the Vikings.
This week Colonel hosts a Nandua squad that they should defeat and go to 4-3 for the first time since 2006. After that they have another Eastern Shore of VA team in Northampton followed by Washington before they finish up against North Caroline. They have a slim shot at defeating North Caroline so they must win out before Week 10 and that is very possible. As just written Cambridge has a solid contest in Wicomico this week and Easton at the end of the season so they could potentially be 5-5. It all comes down to points and Colonel already trails to Cambridge albeit not by much. That’s where that JM Bennett Week 1 loss hurt so much.
This has been the toughest year for me that I can remember in trying to rank the teams in the Bayside outside of the Top 2 teams. I don’t want to necessarily give specific reasons I have for where I have some of the teams ranked but I factor in strength of schedule, margin of win or loss and coaching. Lastly I rely on my gut some as well. I usually do not like to rely on the past as being predictive of the future which can be very unreliable but in some cases it can be reliable and so I have used it. At the end of the day a better record does not necessarily mean a team is better than another. I try so hard to make sure the Poll reflects a lot of factors.
*Parkside needs to likely win out and will be doing a lot of scoreboard watching over the coming weeks. They know it’s a big uphill climb but no one has been mathematically eliminated. The Rams will be rooting heavily for JM Bennett against Queen Anne’s this week and then will need to take care of business against the Lions themselves. A Queen Anne’s win over Bennett though would make it that much more difficult getting those extra 3A points. It’s far from a given that Kent Island, Elkton or Queen Anne’s wins out, in fact it’s likely all three lose at least one more game if not two.
As devastating a loss as that Bennett game can be as long as they still have a chance, there is plenty of motivation to erase the loss get back on the winning track and also pray for some help. It will be interesting down the stretch.
*Queen Anne’s is still alive as well. A win over Bennett whose a 3A would be a big help. They will have a hungry and motivated Parkside they have to face before finishing the season hosting Kent Island. It will not be an easy road for them but they are certainly in a better spot than Parkside. On another note though I think even if they make it they are one and done. Credit Stephen Decatur but seeing Queen Anne’s not blow out Kent County at home and seeing them in a dog fight with Decatur further proves this year has been much more about rebuilding than reloading. Certainly you credit the Lions coaching staff for having them at 4-2 and I expect they will give Kent Island a tough game at home this year in the ‘War on the Shore’ but this program is a year away but watch out for 2018 for sure.
Colonel’s Convincing Win:
I said it on the OTL Friday night and I think wrote this in my picks section that one of the keys to Colonel defeating Kent County on Saturday was getting off to a fast start. Boy did they ever as they jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the 1st Quarter. They would go on to win 44-6. It was a must win for Colonel and they took care of business on homecoming against a team they had not defeated since 2010 when they won against the Trojans on the road in Worton. I am definitely impressed with that performance. As I have written this is not the same Colonel program that we saw from say 2010 through 2014.
Centreville Brings Out the Best in Stephen Decatur:
There is something about Stephen Decatur playing on the road at Queen Anne’s that brings out the best in the Seahawks. While last year Queen Anne’s blew out Decatur at home 55-6 if you go back to 2006 there have been some close games in Centreville between the two teams. In 2006 Decatur fell to Queen Anne’s 7-6. In 2011 Decatur knocked off Queen Anne’s 34-31. In 2014 Queen Anne’s won 56-41. On Saturday Queen Anne’s also got the best of Decatur 23-19. There have been some close games between the two teams as well on the road in Berlin.
Molock is a Machine/Cambridge Analysis:
By my count Taj Molock has 15 TDs in the last three games and has almost single handedly carried the Cambridge-SD offense. Cambridge has won 3 straight and is in the #4 spot in the 1A East and would make the playoffs if the season ended today. After a 0-3 start to the season, the schedule has gotten easier and the battle tested Vikings have not only won but taken it to their opponents. This week ought to be a good test for them as Wicomico at 3-3 is a 2A team with a fast and athletic defensive front. They usually always have a fair amount of speed and athleticism.
The Parity Continues:
I know Queen Anne’s is in rebuilding mode this year but I did not expect them to be in a dog fight with Stephen Decatur who looks like they are better than last year no doubt but still nowhere near the top of the Bayside. Although on Saturday you certainly would not have said that about the Seahawks as they fell in a close one on the road no less on the Lions Homecoming 23-19. If Stephen Decatur can go to Queen Anne’s and lose by just 4, how did they lose 30-3 at home to Kent Island or muster just 3 points against Wicomico? This season has been so intriguing.
*How do you explain Kent County despite 4 turnovers staying in the game relatively speaking against Queen Anne’s for 3 quarters before falling 29-7. How does Kent stay in a game against Queen Anne’s for three quarters but then get blown out at Colonel 44-6.
*How do you explain Colonel Richardson who had 6 turnovers falling by a score of just 10-8 in Week 1 against JM Bennett who finds themselves at 5-1 and up to #4 in the rankings?
*How do you explain Parkside on a drive that would have tied the game against Kent Island on the road early in the second half but then lose by 3 to JM Bennett at home?
A matchup we will not see but intrigues me is Colonel and Stephen Decatur, who would win that one? Yes it’s a 1A versus a 3A and you would probably give the nod to Decatur because of the strength of schedule and numbers compared to Decatur but I am not so sure Colonel couldn’t win that game if they played clean and were able to force a turnover or two.
JM Bennett Turning the Tide:
Prior to the 2015 season JM Bennett faced two big issues. It was well documented that there was a lack of commitment by many of the players in the program. The Clippers had also struggled with a multitude of injuries in multiple years. They had become the Baltimore Ravens of the Bayside Conference when it came to injuries. Bennett was forced to raid their JV program having to play several freshman in multiple years. Combine the two together and what you got was a mess. The Clippers were 8-32 between 2011-2014. Prior to 2015 the last winning season they had was in 2010 when the team went 7-3.
Hoot Gibson made no bones about it and simply said when we get guys who want to commit to winning (starts in the weight room) and we get some luck and avoid the huge injury bug, we will get back on track. Slowly but surely the Clippers were able to do that. Then in 2015 Bennett finished the regular season going 7-3 and making it to the playoffs before falling to Reservoir (Howard County) 20-3. Last year after losing many of those players to graduation Bennett held their own and finished 5-5. This year Bennett is off to a 5-1 start after just beating Salisbury rival Parkside 46-43. It’s safe to say that Bennett is back and is now the second South team to get their program back on the winning track.
(Sidebar: One of the reasons why the program is back is kids like this, check out this article)
Parkside has been able to do that the last few years and the South has been desperate to have someone follow suit. Bennett in the regular season is now 17-9 in their 2.5 seasons. The second half of the schedule gets a lot tougher with the likes of Queen Anne’s, North Caroline, Decatur and Wicomico. These will all be continued great litmus test games for Bennett. The Clippers certainly have a good chance of winning at least half of those and who knows could pull an upset on the road at Queen Anne’s. Either way they have put themselves in a good spot to make their second playoff berth in three years. Their success is a great boost to the Bayside Conference who needs to South to get back and be more competitive to make the overall Conference better.
Takeaways from JM Bennett-Parkside Game:
-Ricky Pollitt with his own version of ‘What We Learned’ from the Salisbury Rivalry game on Friday.
-The buzz from this past week’s games was the 51 yarder that Steve Oscar hit against Parkside with 6 seconds left to defeat the Rams 46-43. It was a heartbreaking loss for Parkside but they have been there before…
…Back in 2015 Oscar hit two game winning FGs for the Clippers, one against Easton and then he broke the school record with a 48 yarder against, you guessed it, Salisbury City Rival Parkside.
The one thing I don’t quite understand from the game is the part where:
“Parkside entered the game with the mindset that they would do whatever necessary to keep the ball away from Long. Kickoff after kickoff, the Rams would squib the ball to the left, hoping to prevent a breakaway run from Bennett’s special teams.
Leading by seven with 20 seconds left, Parkside went away from its plan and kicked the ball high into the air.”
After talking with Parkside Head Coach Brendan Riley, he told me that there was absolutely no intention in the game at all to kick it to Long but his kicker got under the ball a little too much and the ball ended up in the middle of field too much and too deep and ultimately into Long’s hands. Riley said they had three defenders in the area but Long was able to escape them. After the Bennett touchdown, Parkside RB Nayel Oge on a toss sweep tried to gain some extra yards with defenders trying to bring him down and fumbled the ball away to Bennett who then sealed the win with Steve Oscar’s Field Goal.
Credit Pollitt, he has been talking about Jahryn Long all season long and his play making ability. One thing is for sure, JM Bennett has the best Special Teams, at least as it pertains to scoring and on Punt in the league.
Parkside Reaction and Where Do They Go:
-Rams Head Coach Brendan Riley told me that this was a loss that will likely always stick with him.
-He said Bennett QB Joey Blake was able to do some damage to the Parkside defense on the ground. Blake had a fair amount of yards from dropping back to pass, not finding an open receiver and then taking off…He also said Bennett was able to take advantage of some misalignment or miscommunication on some defenses. The second TD that was scored by Bennett was a tipped ball by a Rams defender in the end zone that was then caught by a Clippers receiver who made an unbelievable play. Riley felt from an overall stand point though the Rams defense did a good job against the run game.
-Riley also felt that with the Rams offense scoring so quickly their defense wore down from being out on the field so much including most of the 2nd Quarter.
-Riley said a lot of their success in the ground game came on the outside, as Bennett tries to overwhelm you at the point of attack and bring the pressure against the run game.
-He also told me that on Monday the team and the coaches wanted no part of looking at the video from the Bennett game and instead had a team meeting talking about what motivates them to play. Riley said that they set about a phrase that John and Jim Harbaugh use and that is “Winning the Minute, the Hour, the Day, the practice that is in front of them.” Riley said that is all they can do until they play again which this week is a short week as they host Snow Hill.
There is no doubt that Steve Oscar will go down as one of the best kickers in Bayside history and certainly in JM Bennett history. Oscar has won numerous games in his career for the Clippers including two already this year. These guys come around maybe once in a couple of decades in every program. Kickers do not grow on trees where it seems every team has at least one pretty good RB. Cambridge has been the gold standard when it comes to producing quality kicker’s year and in year out. Bert Schrecongost was a very good kicker for Kent Island the last few years and probably a peg below Oscar but still very good.
I don’t remember in the time I have been covering the Bayside a kicker that has meant so much to his team. David Insley of The Star Democrat is going to have to help me on that one.
Offensive Coordinator Dustin Mills told me that Oscar has been offered as a preferred walk on at Maryland and Salisbury. He is also talking to Army and Towson right now. He was invited to an LSU camp was told he was too inconsistent.
Here was a piece The Daily Times did on Oscar recently.