Back to the Gridiron: Week one set for Friday
Rivalries, history renewed: Bayside football Week 1 is upon us
Three matchups between longtime rivals highlight the opening week of Bayside Conference football for 2016.
Two games may stick out more than the third, though.
Topping the list is Kent County’s trip to Queen Anne’s. While many might not see this as a big rivalry... oh, it has been. To quote one Trojan backer on Twitter, “we hate each other in sports.”
Kent County has won the last two meetings. The gnomes in my basement reminded me that from 19972014, though, the Lions won 16 of the teams’ 17 meetings, the Trojans’ only win coming in 2002, 2814 during Week 5. (Queen Anne’s won just one game that year, Kent County three.)
In 2013, Queen Anne’s won by a single score, and the writing was on the wall that the Trojans were
The two teams didn’t play football head-to-head from 1985-1996 (our records for 1984 are incomplete, so I’ll be bugging my old friend Michelle Phillips in the Trojan media center soon, to go digging through yearbooks again) but that was probably due to the fact that Queen Anne’s didn’t play hardly any Bayside foes at that point. At that point, Queen Anne’s County High was a massive Class 4A school (the biggest on the Eastern Shore until Kent Island opened in 1999, taking half its enrollment 15 minutes west), while Kent County was a little 1A, half an hour or so north.
Since the teams have begun playing again, Queen Anne’s has held sway in most sports, but in football, for the time being, Kent County has the upper hand.
This year, though, silence seems golden for Queen Anne’s.
Not appearing for the annual Bayside Media Day three weeks back, the Lions have kept a relatively low profile, though the smile on coach Donny Graef’s face when I asked him in May how they’d be may have given away a little bit.
Queen Anne’s will be very good this year. Expect the team’s Week 9 (at home against North Caroline) and Week 10 (Kent Island) games to be absolutely massive, in terms of hype and playoff implications.
For now, there’s the Trojans to worry with. And they’re still plenty.
With Tyson Johnson taking over for Stevie Curran (the Bayside’s all-time leading passer), who graduated last spring, there’s not much of a talent drop-off at all at quarterback for the Trojans, and with Marcquan Greene back, we’ll see.
There’s a name at Queen Anne’s I’d like to drop as well, but I’m gonna hold on to that secret for the time being, and let fans find it out on their own Friday night.
About 25 minutes south of Lions Stadium, another big rivalry gets renewed, as North Caroline visits Easton. (Easton fans have called it “Easton vs. Denton” for a long time, so long, in fact, it seems to have originated before the opening of North Caroline High, at the tail end of the Eisenhower Administration, in the heady days when ever y town, including Preston, Trappe, and Hurlock had their own high schools).
Easton is 4-1 under Matt Griffith against the Bulldogs; that one, however, came last year, as we all know. Easton had a dismal 2-8 campaign last year, while North Caroline, well, we know what they did, don’t we?
The third rivalry game is possibly the oldest, but also the least familiar: Wicomico vs. Cambridge-South Dorchester. Way back in the days of Cambridge High, Wi-Hi was the Raiders’ absolute nemesis.
Cambridge simply couldn’t beat Wicomico. Through the 40s, when Wicomico County legend Charlie Berry coached the Indians, into the 50s, the team was unstoppable, blowing Cambridge out sometimes by 50 points or more.
But then 1962 came, and the Raiders finally won; thanks to CHS Class of 1967 alumnus Bill Hillburg for pegging the exact year. Mr. Hillburg emailed me recently and mentioned as well that, apparently, after the 33-0 Raider victory, “I recall there was some school-wide punishment for some post-game vandalism in Salisbury, including making off with the goalposts.”
Thanks for that tidbit, Mr. Hillburg. I love stories like those.
While other games, like James M. Bennett visiting Washington or
Snow Hill heading to Parkside, might not jump out at you, they may still be worth a look, so if you’re nearby, go watch. (I bet those kids will stand the the National Anthem, even the ones who’ll ride the bench, despite not getting paid $11.9 million this year.)
Make sure to tune in at 6:50 a.m. Friday to 94.3 WINXFM to hear the gnomes making their picks, with Mark Potter of Overtime Live. Friday’s Games Game of the Week Kent County (6-5) at Queen Anne’s (7-4)
Both made the playoffs this year. Both will this year, too, so this one’s worth a dozen or so playoff points to the winner. I go home team this time unless it’s really
high-scoring, in which case the Trojans might win their third straight in this rivalry. — Lions, 21-19.
North Caroline (12-1) at Easton (2-8) North Caroline bears the burden of proof this season, but this should, uh, prove to be a positive opening for the team, though Easton will be in this game for a good while. (Radio: 94.3 WINXFM, pregame 6:15 p.m.) — Bulldogs, 36-19. Wi-Hi (2-8) at Cambridge-SD (9-3) Wi-Hi’s only wins last year came against Washington and Snow Hill, who were 1-19 combined, that lone win being Washington over Snow Hill. New coach Brian Hanson has work to do, but word is, it’s getting done. C-SD, though, will probably be more ready as a whole. (Radio: WCEM-AM 1240, pregame 6:45 p.m.)
— Vikings, 35-22. Parkside (6-4) at Snow Hill (0-10) The Rams came a Week 10 loss to rival Bennett away from the playoffs last season. The road back starts here for them, while the road up for the Eagles has to begin soon, but likely won’t this week. — Rams, 42-6. Kent Island (9-2) at Col. Richardson (4-6)
Colonel will have to play well to stay in this one. Kent Island’s looking to improve on last year’s one-and-done postseason, and this is the first step on that journey. — Buccaneers, 40-12. J. M. Bennett (7-4) at Washington (1-9) I can’t recall offhand the last time the Jaguars beat Bennett. I do not think this year will send me looking. — Clippers, 45-6.
Decatur (4-6) at Bohemia Manor (5-6)
Stan Griffin, who coached Snow Hill from 2000-05, takes the reins at Decatur this year as 33-year coach Bob Knox takes a leave to deal with a family illness. The Seahawks begin and end the regular season facing teams named the Eagles.
Cambridge-South Dorchester running back Tajh Molock runs around the end for a big gain against Wicomico in 2015.
Cambridge-South Dorchester’s Tre Lake sprints up the middle against Wicomico in 2015.
Cambridge-South Dorchester tight end Jake Morris hauls in a Nathaniel Lowe pass and sprints 64 yards for a touchdown against Wicomico in 2015.