Week 2 sees tests for Bucs, Bull­dogs, Vik­ings and War­riors

Dorchester Star - - Sports -

We had quite an in­ter­est­ing open­ing week of foot­ball in the Bay­side Con­fer­ence.

The top teams all won. A team from near the bot­tom last year came a play away from pulling off an amaz­ing up­set in a high-scor­ing track meet of a game in Eas­ton. And one of the old­est ri­val­ries in the state, pit­ting Wi­comico High against a team from Cam­bridge, was re­newed.

Let’s start with that North Caro­line-Eas­ton game, be­cause a lot of peo­ple, my­self in­cluded, ei­ther un­der­es­ti­mated the War­riors, or over­es­ti­mated the Bull­dogs.

I think it’s the for­mer rather than the lat­ter, re­ally. North Caro­line can beat you up the mid­dle, around end, or even deep on oc­ca­sion.

Eas­ton, on the other hand, was re­port­edly re­build­ing and hop­ing to be vi­able af­ter a 2-8 sea­son in 2015.

Open­ing night proved the word “re­build­ing” should be re­placed with “re­built.” Scor­ing seven touch­downs against a team that al­lowed four or more in a game only once last year means, in no un­cer­tain terms, you’re back.

Now, let’s dis­cuss Eas­ton head coach Matt Grif­fith’s gutsy de­ci­sion to go for two at the end of the game.

Af­ter scor­ing a touch­down to pull within 49-48 with un­der 30 sec­onds re­main­ing, Grif­fith had the choice of send­ing in Emma Skoglund to kick a point-af­ter and po­ten­tially force over­time, or go­ing for a two.

Skoglund, 4-for-4 kick­ing PATs in her var­sity de­but Fri­day, was the safe choice.

In­stead, Grif­fith chose to try a two-point con­ver­sion, in the form of a pass. It failed, and Eas­ton lost.

I don’t fault Grif­fith one sin­gle iota. While kick­ing the PAT would’ve shown he had con­fi­dence in Skoglund, Grif­fith’s de­ci­sion to go for two showed he had con­fi­dence in the en­tire team. (Skoglund, by the way, be­came the first fe­male player I can find record of in North Bay­side his­tory to score in var­sity foot­ball, so con­grats on that, young lady!)

If Grif­fith didn’t have con­fi­dence in his place kicker, she wouldn’t be on the team in the first place, so con­sider that, too.

In 2011, an­other coach faced a sim­i­lar choice with far more on the line. In that year’s Class 4A state cham­pi­onship against Quince Or­chard, Old Mill head coach Chad Mc­Cormick trailed 35-28 in over­time. His team scored a touch­down, and he went for two with his team down 35-34.

Old Mill suc­ceeded on the con­ver­sion — and won the cham­pi­onship, 36-35. Mc­Cormick did it be­cause, as his pre­de­ces­sor, Damian Fer­rag­amo, put it, “he told me, ‘it was the only time in the game I knew we could win the game if our play worked.’”

This de­ci­sion is very anal­o­gous to Fri­day night’s bat­tle at War­rior Sta­dium. Granted, there was a kick­off af­ter Eas­ton’s touch­down and, had they trailed 50-49 at that point, the Bull­dogs might have had the chance to run two or three plays. But, hey, you play to win some­times in­stead of play­ing to keep from los­ing.

As Fer­rag­amo, now head coach at Kent Is­land, said, “Hey, I’d have done the same thing. I sup­port Matt 110 per­cent on that . ... You fig­ure, look at the score, and you see no­body’s stop­ping any­body, you might as well go for it.”

It didn’t work this time. But hey, these teams might meet again in the play­offs. Who knows? Ei­ther way, it was a great call, and one, I can say, I might not have been bold enough to make. So, I tip my prover­bial hat to Grif­fith on that one.

Things don’t get any eas­ier for Eas­ton or the Bull­dogs this week.

Eas­ton vis­its Park­side in a game that might de­ter­mine the play­off fates of both teams. I say this be­cause if the War­riors win, it proves they’re able to con­tend up and down the con­fer­ence. Af­ter all, if they win, in this sce­nario, they will have taken the Bay­side Con­fer­ence’s top team to the mat one week, and then beaten a team with a solid record last year, on the road, the fol­low­ing week.

If Park­side wins, the Rams could be poised to im­prove on last year’s 6-4 mark which al­most was enough for the post­sea­son.

North Caro­line plays its home opener Fri­day against Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester in a con­test be­tween teams who scored a com­bined 110 points last Fri­day night. De­fenses on both sides need to step up, be­cause both teams have blind­ing speed and depth at the skill po­si­tions.

Re­al­is­ti­cally, the Vik­ingsBull­dogs con­test could end in one of hun­dreds of ways. Last year’s 20-14 game was the same way.

In dis­cussing these, and the other games in Week 2, the gnomes in my base­ment came to a pre­dic­tion in one game, at least, that sur­prises me a lit­tle. I won’t delve too deeply into the cir­cum­stances or process be­hind the pre­dic­tion in ques­tion, but if you want more de­tail, check out my Twit­ter feed.

They tend to get one game wrong per week any­way, so take whatever they say with a grain of salt. Af­ter all, how smart is pot­tery?

The rest of Week 2 has a cou­ple games that could turn heads as well. Can James M. Ben­nett, which won its opener against Wash­ing­ton de­spite giv­ing up more than 400 yards of of­fense, give Queen Anne’s County a bat­tle? Can Kent Is­land, which beat Elk­ton dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son last year, avenge Elk­ton’s play­off-open­ing ri­poste nine weeks later?

Will Snow Hill, which dressed 17 play­ers last week against Park­side, and Colonel Richard­son play in a barn­burner, a tight, low-scor­ing game, or a blowout? Colonel has around two dozen kids, so depth is a con­cern for both sides.

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