state’s single-game record for point-after kicks last year against Snow Hill. His 12 PATs in as many tries in that 84-6 blowout highlighted a 57-for-59 year converting after team touchdowns.
Harding and his teammates are preparing for Kent County as diligently as their guests, he said.
“We think they’re going to try to stop some of the things they do with the run, so maybe it’ll open up the pass for us,” Harding said. “Our coaches usually pull out the right plays when we need to.”
The streak of 25 wins, Harding says, impresses him about as much as anyone. “Every time we play Kent County, I don’t know what it is,” Harding said. “We seem to have something extra for them... some extra motivation to play better.”
The Vikings had a few hiccups last week, even though they defeated Perryville 37-7, running the slaughter clock for almost the whole fourth quarter. “We had some issues with penalties,” Harding said. “We’re going to be sharper on defense this week, I think. Our offense should be crisper.”
Though he has one more year of play left, Harding isn’t going to wait until next season voluntarily, he said, adding that losing “would be a big deal. if we can make a deep run in the playoffs, that’s what we want . ... Losing relatively early in the playoffs, it would be bad for the seniors in particular after all their work . ... We’re going to try to be smarter this week. [We] don’t want to lose because of penalties, extending one of their drives or cutting one of our drives short.”
Under center, Harding has thrown for 795 yards, 14 touchdowns, and an NFLsystem passer rating of 98.5; when one remembers that C-SD averages just under four pass attempts a game, one sees how solid these numbers actually are. Only three times this year has Harding been called to throw more than five passes.
One reason is the skilled stable of backs behind him, powered by senior Tre’ Lake, who leads the Bayside Conference this year with 26 touchdowns in 11 games, as well as 1,598 rushing yards. Joining him are Taj Molock (978 yards, 11 touchdowns, 14.7 yards per carry), and C. J. Brummell (321 yards, seven touchdowns, 10.7 per carry).
Greene also has gotten by with a little help from his friends, like Takai Caulk (6.6 yards per carry; 349 yards rushing) and Silas Phillips, who’ve each scored on the ground three times. Arlington Johnson and Tra Wright, with a pair of rushing scores each, also average five or more yards per touch.
Dashawn Lister, running routes downfield, averages 29.9 yards per reception and has scored three times by air. The Trojans also look good at keeping control of the ball; the team’s stats list only two lost fumbles in 11 games.
No matter the outcome Friday in Cambridge, Greene’s personal Holy Grail quest will have reached its climax. A win by the Trojans would avenge not only his, but the program’s frustration after two long decades.
The 1A East championship kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday at Viking Stadium. Oh, and they have, quite possibly, the best concession stand menu in the conference. Honestly, I’ve heard from several people that they come for the food almost as much as the football.
In the Class 2A East final, kicking off at the same time in Cecil County, there’s another massive game. North Caroline, fresh off a road win over top seed Kent Island in the semifinals, visits Elkton — putting the last two teams to defeat Kent Island in the postseason against each other for a berth in the state semifinals.
The third-seeded Golden Elks (10-1), whose only loss was to Kent Island in midSeptember, have reeled off nine straight victories now, including a 12-0 blanking of No. 2 Queen Anne’s last week. Playing a suffocating defense, Elkton got just what it needed from the guy who’s been doing it for a long time last Friday — Raiquan Estep.
Estep has been a key component in the Elks’ most recent successes, and the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference has learned to fear him. A powerful, fast workhorse of a back, Estep had 28 carries last week for over 160 yards and scored all of the game’s points.
Then there’s quarterback Jackson Argoe, who provides a dimension to Elkton’s offense that few Bayside teams offer: a strong passer. Argoe threw for four touchdowns, and ran for a fifth, two weeks ago in his team’s 48-6 regular-season-ending drubbing of North East-Cecil. He airs the ball out rather regularly, a wrinkle only a handful of Bayside programs have shown effectively in the last decade.
Against these offensive stars will be a Bulldog defense that has held opponents to two scores of less in eight of the last nine games. North Caroline, which defeated Elkton last year for the 2A East title, hopes to match or exceed its 2015 showing, in which it made the state tournament for the first time since the school opened its doors during the Eisenhower Administration. And then there’s Baby Bo. David Bailey, whose nickname came several years ago because of how his physique and performance reminded coaches of two-sport star Bo Jackson, leads a strong cast that’s looking to repeat, and perhaps exceed, last year’s deep playoff run. Working on a 1,500-plus-yard, 20-touchdown season, Bailey’s height, speed, and agility are making him a Division-I college prospect. He also plays basketball and runs track, keeping busy year-round.
Week 12 could be the best one yet this year; for two teams it will be the last. Friday’s Games Game of the Week 1A East Final (4) Kent Co. (6-5) at (2) C-SD (8-3) Honestly, I’ve mentally pictured virtually every possible score within three touchdowns either way for this one. But the gnomes in the basement were adamant, and said... (Radio: WCEM-AM 1240, pregame 6:45 p.m.) — Vikings, 28-27.
2A East Final (4) N. Caroline (9-2) at (3) Elkton (10-1) Going home team here, but that meant nothing last week in this region. The visitors were 2-0 in this region’s semifinals. (Radio: 94.3 WINXFM, pregame 6:40 p.m.) — Golden Elks, 24-21. Last Week: 2-2. Season: 62-12 (.838). Career: 849-178 (.827). Follow me on Twitter: @ Davetalkssports.