#1 North Caroline (8-0) vs. #2 Kent Island (7-1)-6:30pm-This is the Overtime Live Game of the Week on 94-3 WINX-FM and sfmsports.net, Pre-Game 6:15pm, Kickoff at 6:30pm. Listen to the game HERE
It will be a white out in Ridgely and a loud, passionate fan base rooting on the home team in the North Caroline Bulldogs. This will be the game of the year in the Bayside Conference…That said while home field advantage will certainly help, I think Kent Island is good enough and with them playing in a similar environment in Frederick against Oakdale two weeks ago, to not be adversely affected by it. This is the most balanced offensive team Kent Island has had for a while with QB Trent Jackson under center. The Bucs defense is always stout and has continued that for most of this year. What will help both teams going into this game is North Caroline getting a chance to get some work against the passing game in the win over JM Bennett last week. The Clippers had to go to the air more with them getting down big. They also faced a QB with a good arm in Joey Blake and good WR in Jahryn Long. In fact Blake might have the best arm in the conference next to Jackson. He and Long connected on the Clippers lone score. Both teams will look at that game and see either where to exploit or where to improve.
The difference in this game is two-fold, the first is once again the Bulldogs with two Division I players on the roster is a rare advantage for any Bayside team. Kent Island knows it needs to contain David Bailey but again he is a man among boys so easier said than done. Let’s for a second say Kent Island is able to contain Bailey. There are still a number of backs than can hurt you. It’s just not all Bailey though and Caroline with their margins of victory, good coaching and the way the Wing T distributes the football have been able to get multiple backs experience. Those players are solid and have produced. NC can call on Tynez Warner, Zac Smith, Tyler Bauer and Will Manship in addition to Bailey. QB Cody Pepper will be called upon to make a few plays in the air and he is better equipped than last year but it won’t be easy. It might be good to get him some confidence early against that defense. The interesting thing will be if North Caroline gets down or if they are not playing as well, something they are not used to at all this year, how will they respond?
If Kent Island can give Trent Jackson time in the pocket he should be able to air it out with success but pass protection at the high school level is tough to count on unless you’re a big passing team. KI has emphasized it more but they also have not faced the likes of Jamion Franklin either. The Bucs will still remained balanced unless they get down big. North Caroline outside of last week has not faced as solid a passing team as Kent Island and will need to play sound technique and not give up the big play to the Bucs. WR Sean Mooney leads the way and he will be the first guy they need to contain or shutdown. Obviously a strong pass rush out of a front four can help enable the defense to drop seven in obvious passing situations which can help Caroline stop the pass. 1st Down success for both teams will be big. This is a better North Caroline and Kent Island team from two years ago in 2015 when the Bulldogs defeated the Bucs 28-21 in 2 OTs early in the year.
I just have to think here with so much on the line for North Caroline at home (not that Kent Island doesn’t have a lot to play for) going for a Bayside Championship, undefeated record, keeping their current #1 seed in the 2A East playoff hunt and with Bailey and Franklin that they find a way to get it done. However it would come as no shock to me especially given how well the Bucs played Oakdale for 2.5 quarters if Kent Island came out with the win. They should be given a lot of respect and you can be assured North Caroline is giving them all the respect and then some. Bulldogs win in the end.
#3 Queen Anne’s (6-2) at #5 Parkside (5-3)-6:30pm-Major 2A East Playoff implications for both teams as the loser’s playoff hopes will be dashed and even with a win guarantees nothing. The Lions again are not the Lions of old but in a rebuilding year, 6-2 is very, very good. If there was ever a time for Parkside to pull off the upset it would be now at home when Queen Anne’s is not the dominant team they usually are and not at the level of North Caroline and Kent Island, two teams Parkside has lost to earlier this year. Until the Rams though can prove they can beat a North opponent I have to go with Queen Anne’s.
#10 Colonel Richardson (5-3) at #11 Washington (2-6)-6:30pm-The Colonel’s are having their best year since 2006. If Colonel wins they are in the 1A East Playoffs. Colonel has so much to play for and they have certainly remained focused and seized the opportunities presented to them the last few weeks. Yes it’s a road game but this is a must win with a very likely loss to North Caroline in the final week of the season. QB Jake Zebron is quietly having a real solid season and he has multiple weapons to throw to and hand the ball off to. Washington has put up points this year but has not been able to stop much of anybody. At the end of the day the Colonels ought to win this one and they ought to win it going away in the second half.
#6 Wicomico (4-4) at #9 Easton (2-6)-6:30pm-Wicomico’s playoff hopes were dashed last week in their loss to Queen Anne’s however they still have a lot of reason to play to start rebuilding their winning tradition. They have already exceeded their win total from last year. The Indians have really stressed defense and it has certainly shown improvement this year but last week was a setback after starting out tough. Easton is plain gritty and playing hard even in a lost season. This is a tough call but I feel the Indians will bounce back from last week and pull it off on the road. Obviously Wicomico cannot turn the ball over like they did last week but I will give the nod to the Indians. If QB Jarin Winters limits the turnovers he should have Easton in this to the end.
#13 Snow Hill (1-7) at #8 Cambridge-SD (4-4)-6:30pm-The Eagles are riding high after their first win since October 2014 last week. The Vikings need this win to stay in the 1A East playoff hunt. The Vikings health will be a huge factor here as a beat up Tyler Harding and Tajh Molock certainly showed as they were just able to edge out Kent County 7-6 last week. Just like Queen Anne’s, this is not the Cambridge team of years past as they rebuild this year. With playoffs to play for, being battle tested and at home I lean Cambridge but they cannot allow Snow Hill to hang around until the 4th quarter or else all bets are off. Snow Hill RB Amonte Allen can match Cambridge RB Taj Molock’s production. With the way the Bayside is going this year I could definitely see this as a close game, at least for a while.
Hammond, Howard County (0-7) at #12 Kent County (1-7)-7pm-Kent County lost at home last week 7-6 to rival Cambridge. That score came on a trick play. Hammond has a size advantage and has played as tough if not tougher a schedule than Kent County against some good Howard County teams including Howard. This a coin toss game and likely will go to the end. I lean Hammond because of their schedule of opponents and size.
#7 Stephen Decatur (3-5) at #4 JM Bennett (5-3)-Noon-Its Homecoming for the Clippers who are bringing back many players from their 80s dynasty teams. While I think Bennett is safe for the playoffs even with a loss, they want to hold on to their #2 seed to host a first round playoff game. The Clippers have lost to two tough opponents in Queen Anne’s and North Caroline back to back. The Seahawks are reeling from a 56-28 loss to Parkside, a team Bennett defeated. Bennett is not as big in the trenches as Parkside but have they have some nice skill guys including multiple running backs. I expect Decatur’s defense to play better. Bennett has to contain Decatur’s running backs and cannot give up so many outside runs the way they did to Parkside. This could be a track meet and if it is Bennett has the better offense especially with their passing game. Decatur does have a solid K in John Ford but Bennett counters with Steve Oscar. It ought to be a great atmosphere and I think Bennett ends up pulling it out but won’t easy.
Last Week’s Picks: 6-1
This Season: 45-12