Bay­side foot­ball games to watch

Dorchester Star - - Front Page - DAVID INS­LEY

CAM­BRIDGE — Star Demo­crat sports writer David Ins­ley pre­views some of the no­table games for the up­com­ing 2016 high school foot­ball sea­son in his “From the Bleach­ers” col­umn.

Two things hit me when youth base­ball sea­son ends and foot­ball looms: the re­al­iza­tion that my fa­vorite sea­son is over, and ... writer’s block.

Noth­ing drains the morale of a scribbler more than star­ing at a blank screen (or sheet of pa­per; I cut my teeth on a Smith-Corona man­ual typewriter).

What do you write about when the last sea­son you cov­ered is his­tory, and the next thing won’t hap­pen for nearly three weeks?

At the time I write this, no foot­ball team is even al­lowed to hit some­body yet. So, no scrim­mages have hap­pened yet lo­cally, and the last few half-hearted grid­iron run­ners who’ll drop out soon, but haven’t quite made up their minds to do so yet, are still with their re­spec­tive teams. Pre­views of each pro­gram come a bit later, tra­di­tion­ally, as the sea­son’s a step closer and teams have shed their dead weight — and many pre­sea­son mis­con­cep­tions.

Pa­per­ing over the gap with some trite rec­ol­lec­tion of me­mories of the base­ball sea­son just isn’t in the cards, but some­thing needs to be said, the lit­tle voice in my head screams.

But then I look at the foot­ball sched­ule and, lo! Rev­e­la­tion!

I could make a list of the best, or most im­por­tant, Bay­side foot­ball games to watch!

There are def­i­nitely a bunch of games, usu­ally a cou­ple each week, worth point­ing to, even in Au­gust when no­body knows any­one’s true ta­lent level.

So let’s get right to it, shall we? As some weeks have mul­ti­ple “A games,” I’ll break it down chrono­log­i­cally.

These con­tests are listed not be­cause they’ll have nec­es­sar­ily the best teams, but be­cause they have a com­bi­na­tion of im­por­tance and en­joy­a­bil­ity to watch. Ev­ery game is im­por­tant to ev­ery team, but some sim­ply won’t be com­pet­i­tive and, thus, prob­a­bly won’t be men­tioned.

Week 1: Key In­di­ca­tors

North Caro­line, of the 12-1 record last year and nice, big bull’s-eye on its back, vis­its Eas­ton. The Bull­dogs, of course, won last year to be­gin their amaz­ing 12-0 start. While I’m lean­ing to­ward Caro­line to win this, even a rep­utable show­ing by Eas­ton might in­di­cate the team has shrugged off its 2-8 show­ing in 2015.

Con­versely, if the Bull­dogs run the clock on Eas­ton, talk might fo­cus on whether the Bull­dogs can have a hot start again. Kick­off for this game is 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 2 at War­rior Sta­dium.

An­other wa­ter­shed game is Kent County’s 7 p.m. trip that same night to Queen Anne’s County. The Tro­jans have won this game the last two years, af­ter a 12-year drought, and as the teams’ for­tunes went, so went this con­test, for the most part.

Week 2: 1A-2A ti­tle re­match

Last year’s Week 2 big game was North Caro­line at Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester. A con­tro­ver­sial touch­down call as the first half ex­pired — I know our pa­per printed a photo, not of Bull­dog player Rod­ney Thomas haul­ing in a pass from Cameron Byrd, but of C-SD’s Dre Greene try­ing to reel in an in­ter­cep­tion — proved the mar­gin of vic­tory.

How­ever, it should be noted that C-SD had sev­eral lost fum­bles and, gen­er­ally, didn’t play well enough to win oth­er­wise. This year’s re­match should be in­ter­est­ing. Kick­off is 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 9. Week 3: Harbingers Colonel Richard­son, with only nine games this sea­son, must make them all count even more than be­fore. Sept. 16’s 6:30 p.m. visit to Kent County could de­cide which of the two teams will make the Class 1A East play­offs this Novem­ber.

Colonel has a tougher hill to climb, though, on the road against a team it hasn’t beaten since 2010 — and sur­ren­dered 72 points against in 2015. (Colonel did score 41, though.)

Kent Is­land vis­its North Caro­line at 7 p.m. that same night; af­ter los­ing this game last year, the Buc­ca­neers reeled off seven straight vic­to­ries, but fell to Elk­ton in the first play­off round, deny­ing these teams a much­hyped po­ten­tial re­match in Week 12.

Week 4: An­other Try

Kent County’s fu­til­ity in its bat­tles against C-SD is well-noted. Ahead by two scores en­ter­ing the fourth quar­ter of their own home­com­ing last year, the Tro­jans lost the the Vik­ings for the 23rd straight time, then again in the play­offs.

Now, 24 straight wins by one team might not make this sound much like a ri­valry — un­less you’ve seen some of these games. It very much it. The teams go at it again on Sept. 23 at C-SD, at 7 p.m. Week 5: Half­way There Eas­ton and Kent county have had some in­ter­est­ing re­cent his­tory; the War­riors pulled out a nar­row, lows­cor­ing vic­tory which re­ally stung the Tro­jans. In 2014, Kent County ral­lied from an early 13-0 deficit to win. Oct. 1’s, 1:30 p.m. bat­tle at Kent County might be worth the trip to the north­ern­most school in the Bay­side Con­fer­ence.

At the same time, Queen Anne’s vis­its Park­side; can the Rams make noise against one of the best teams in the con­fer­ence for the last decade? Week 6: Naval Bat­tle With nau­ti­cal mas­cots — the Buc­ca­neers and Clip­pers, re­spec­tively — Kent Is­land their host this week (Oct. 7 at 6:30 p.m.), James M. Ben­nett face off. The Clip­pers im­proved from 3-7 in 2014 to 7-3 last year and made the play­offs. Was it a blip on the radar, or are the Clip­pers back to stay? This game might prove if they have stay­ing power. Week 7: Tro­jan War With­out star ath­lete Mar­c­quan Greene last year, Kent County lost at North Caro­line. This year, Greene and com­pany play at home, at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 14. Can they avoid a re­peat of his­tory?

Col. Richard­son heads to Nan­dua, Va., at 7 p.m. that night; it’s a must-win game for the Colonels, who need to win ever y game they won last year and pos­si­bly one more if they want a shot at the play­offs. Week 8: Al­most There Park­side vis­its Stephen Decatur at 6 p.m. on Oct. 20 to start Week 8’s slate of games. The Sea­hawks, peren­ni­ally a strong squad, have fallen on hard times in re­cent sea­sons, go­ing 2-8 in 2014 and 4-6 last year. A win against Park­side would be key to the team’s play­off hopes. On the other hand, Decatur would be a big win for a Rams squad who came up short in Week 10 last year. Week 9: Dou­bling Down The road to play­off suc­cess has led through Queen Anne’s County High for a num­ber of years; North Caro­line’s Week 9 win last year was worth a ton of play­off points. What’s more, the Bull­dogs beat them again in the playof fs two weeks later, sur­viv­ing a strong Lion push for re­venge.

On Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. in Cen­tre­ville, we get to see who’ll be the higher play­off seed; it might de­ter­mine who’s the host if they meet in the post­sea­son again.

At the same time, Park­side vis­its Kent Is­land in a key test for the Rams, as well as a game the Bucs can’t af­ford to take lightly. Week 10: Ri­val Re­dux C-SD hosts Eas­ton in a ri­valry that stretches back more than a cen­tury, at 7 p.m. on Nov. 4. C-SD has won eight of the last nine meet­ings, but two of those were by four points or less, and the game, which I call the Chop­tank Bowl, is al­ways worth the ad­mis­sion price.

An­other 7 p.m. kick­off that night is Queen Anne’s at Kent Is­land; any­one need­ing this game’s im­por­tance ex­plained to them sim­ply isn’t a Bay­side foot­ball fan.

So there you have it — 16 games with huge im­pli­ca­tions and con­se­quences. Most are be­tween strong teams, and the ones that aren’t are a sort of cru­cible for the teams who had bad records in 2015.

Other games might prove in­ter­est­ing as well, and time will tell. Mean­while, get your seat cush­ions and coats ready, folks.

Sept. 2, and open­ing night, is just over two weeks away.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester’s Jake Mor­ris makes a leap­ing catch on the Vik­ings’ game-ty­ing drive late in the fourth quar­ter of a 2015 come­back vic­tory over Kent County.

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