What We Learned After Week 1
-The Bayside Conference might be the most wide open from 1-5 that I have seen in a while. There have been other years where I thought it would be wide open and it turned out that there were 2 or 3 teams at the most that were clearly at the top and then there was everybody else. It’s so early but it really seems that way right now as every team has some big question marks at the top. I don’t see anyone running away with the Conference right now however we will find a lot out in the next few weeks.
-In terms of the rankings, it’s really tough this week. First off, last year’s results and teams play little to no factor in this year’s rankings. Someone told me that they were surprised why Kent Island wasn’t Pre-Season #1. This year’s KI team is very different from last year’s team especially with a brand-new backfield on offense including a Freshman QB. North Caroline despite their loss of some big-time players from last year’s team (Franklin and Bailey) looked good and got contributions from all over the place in their win against Wicomico. Wicomico is a team with high expectations and several athletes including First Team All Bayside players from last year. Kent Island looked good in their win, but they were playing Snow Hill. Easton also looked good with their new QB, but they were playing Washington. JM Bennett was solid, and the offense and special teams played well, and the defense played well however Colonel is not the team they were last year especially offensively.
Cambridge had a big win over Queen Anne’s, but they had some distinct advantages they will not have the rest of the year (see below). Queen Anne’s is clearly struggling on defense at least for now with new coaches and scheme. I really expected them to come out and play better and put up more points despite Al Waters’ being on the other side of the field. That said they were a 2pt conversion from winning or an extra point from tying it and playing in OT. I still think Queen Anne’s will be a pretty good team when all is said and done. That said I am really intrigued to see how they do against Easton this week.
-Sometimes in the rankings, I won’t penalize teams as much for losing if it was to a quality opponent just in the same way that I might not reward a team much if they beat a much lesser opponent.
-The bottom of the league had a tough Week 1 and its likely to be a long year for Kent County, Washington and Snow Hill, all 1As. It will be interesting how Colonel does, but I think they are more likely a 3-7 or 4-6 team than a 5-5 or 6-4 team. It will also be interesting to see how Stephen Decatur will do this year. It looks like they are solid on the lines but lack depth. Drummond and Waters at RB played well in Week 1 against Arcadia (VA).
-We will learn a lot about Wicomico and Decatur in their Week 2 matchup however I think we learn a lot more about the Indians than the Seahawks. The Indians defense was pretty good last year but needs to bounce back from last week and the Triple Option offense now in its third year under Head Coach Brian Hansen needs to produce more results on a consistent basis.
-Congrats to Gavin Parker and his first win as Cambridge-SD Head Coach. He has big shoes to fill and a lot of tradition to uphold. Having been an assistant to Jake Coleman prior to his promotion to HC and prior to that having played for Doug Fleetwood at Salisbury was a great way to get an education of Viking tradition. He was groomed for this spot. You could not ask for a better way to start the season then the Vikings winning at home and getting their first win against Queen Anne’s since 2007. Parker did a great job having his team ready to go out of the gate.
-It’s clear Al Waters addition as Defensive Coordinator at Cambridge is paying dividends and it showed Week 1. The players clearly wanted to win the game for him against his former team. They came out fired up and it showed for both Waters and new Head Coach Gavin Parker.
-While Cambridge’s win was impressive, and they deserve the bump up in rankings, the win does come with some caveats and caution on over exuberance. One Queen Anne’s is clearly trying to find their way on defense with loss of Waters’ as DC as they adjust to two defensive coordinators and a new scheme. In addition, Waters’ has intimate knowledge of his old team who returned a lot of players from last year’s team and it didn’t hurt the Vikings were at home. Put that altogether and Cambridge had some distinct advantages in their favor. The Vikings will get a very solid test against Woodbridge out of Delaware’s Henlopen Conference on Friday. We will get another good indication where Cambridge is after the game.
-I know the weather was lousy but a disappointing showing for Wicomico on the road North Caroline. Expectations are high this year and while it was not necessarily predicted the Indians would win, it was thought that they would play a more competitive game against a Bulldogs teams whose solid but doesn’t quite have the playmakers from the last few years.
-Kent Island got the perfect first game to break in Freshman QB Matt “General” Burnside and that was against Snow Hill. With all due respect to the Eagles, Kent Island with a numbers advantage and really solid offensive line was once again the superior team and gave Burnside some experience and confidence with success. Burnside was able to toss multiple TD passes in the win. It will get tougher in Week 2, but the Bucs play at home and while JM Bennett is a much better team, their defense is question mark this year.
-I really thought JM Bennett would miss K Steve Oscar who is now at FCS school Towson University on the Western Shore however the Clippers have a new kicker this year in Brad Boardman and he hit a 43 yarder against Colonel in the Week 1 win. Head Coach Hoot Gibson tells me that they have some other good kickers in the program. It might just be they are becoming Kickers High, a designation that has long been given to Cambridge for all the quality kickers they have had over the years.
-The Bayside is breaking in many new QBs this year including Freshman Matt Burnside at Kent Island, Sophomore Ryan O’Connor at Easton and Junior Brandon Scholl at JM Bennett. All three got off to great starts and had easier opponents which certainly helped ease them into their first varsity action. The schedule will get tougher for both especially O’Connor and Scholl this week.
-The Lightning delays and game suspensions were numerous Week 1. Easton took the long trip to Princess Anne to take on Washington on Friday only to see their game moved to the next night which meant they drove back home to Easton just to turn around back to Princess Anne the next day and eventually back home. That is roughly 300 miles in less than 24 hours. That game even had a lightning delay. Parkside took the long trip to Worton to take on Kent County and got out to an early 21-0 lead only to see their game suspended until Monday. According to one Parkside assistant, Kent County wanted to resume the game on Tuesday. That is nuts to me with both teams having games on Friday. I realize there are referee and field issues at times in these situations but that is unthinkable to me to agree to that kind of schedule. The game though was resumed on Monday.
-There will be more to come as the season goes on but for a number of reasons WWL will not be as long as in the past. I apologize for that, but my responsibilities are numerous, and my editor has asked that this be more condensed which fits better for me this year.