Here comes the stretch run for high school football
The North and South Bayside have big football rivalry games this week. Week 6, which marks the start of the second half of high school football season, also brings a couple Saturday contests.
Saturday’s first game is a classic confrontation between Stephen Decatur and Queen Anne’s County (it seems like this game only takes place on Saturdays now, when the Lions host; it may also be homecoming there). Later that afternoon Colonel Richardson has its homecoming against a Kent County team it has its best chance to beat in years.
Friday night, though, is where the biggest battles take place. In Salisbury, Parkside and James M. Bennett battle at Wicomico County Stadium in the game which will essentially decide the city championship.
In Easton, it’s time to take on North Caroline once more. The Bulldogs have held the upper hand in this rivalry in recent years, but I clearly recall a very hot opening night five years ago in Easton which saw Davon Armstrong run almost halfway to the Moon on the same day Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot there, passed away.
That was the hottest night of football I have ever attended. Talbot County, like Worcester and Caroline at the time, had just moved up the start time for Easton home games by an hour, from to 6 p.m., and the temperature on the field at kickoff, according to my notes, was 96 degrees Fahrenheit. Yeah, 96. Oh, and 92 percent humidity. So, basically, the game was played on a threeacre vegetable steamer.
Davon Armstrong was even hotter that night, torching the Bulldogs for three touchdowns as Easton won by two scores. The Bulldogs threatened to come back in the final five minutes, though, making it a nail-biter.
Though I think North Caroline will win by multiple scores, there are a couple of other games which might be interesting, such as Cambridge-South Dorchester’s trip to Washington.
The Jaguars haven’t beaten the Vikings since 2003, but when they did, they did it twice in a period of about 50 days.
In Week 4 of that year, the Jaguars won a 28-23 battle at Viking Stadium, upending a 3-0 C-SD team. The Vikings, to that point, had beaten North Caroline 23-20 in a come-from-behind rally, topped Queen Anne’s 19-6, and then gone to Wicomico and edged the Indians 7-6.
(The extra point that won that last game was provided by kicker Brendan Kincaid, who missed the first half because of a soccer game, and was in Chestertown taking on Kent County. He later admitted to me he was doing over 80 miles an hour in his car to get to County Stadium, where he kicked that second-half PAT which provided the margin of victory.)
In Week 4’s upset by the Jaguars, who entered that game 0-3, the winning score came on a contested call of a fumble. The Viking faithful swore it was a dead ball, but a Washington player picked it up and ran it in for the deciding touchdown, and it counted.
Washington, fully staffed for the first time that season that week due to injuries and other issues, pummeled people for the rest of the season with a threeheaded ground attack featuring Earlee Corbin, Trey Collins, and Trey Church. The team went 5-1 after beating C-SD, making the playoffs for the first time since 1989 (I saw them play that year too; they lost at home to Smithsburg, if memory serves).
In Week 1, the thirdseeded Jaguars came to C-SD again, and after falling behind 13-0, rallied, and rolled to win 35-19. Washington beat Snow Hill the next week to win the 1A East, but then lost to now-defunct Beall, 130, in the state semifinals. (Beall, along with Westmar, which itself was the result of a merger of two other schools, are both closed now, and comprise the student body of Mountain Ridge.)
Can the Jaguars recapture some of the 2003 magic? We’ll see. I think I may be there to find out.
Wi-Hi heads to Kent Island in another litmus test for the former; I don’t see the paper turning the right hue for the Indians, though, as Kent Island is shaping up to be a formidable opponent.
Snow Hill, now 27 losses into a streak dating back to October, 2014, heads to Nandua, Va., in what should be a close game, so we’ll see if the Eagles can pick up a win.
There are games in four Bayside counties, Talbot and Queen Anne’s in the North, and Wicomico and Somerset down south, on Friday, so nobody in the conference is more than half an hour or so from a game. Caroline and Wicomico counties host games on Saturday, too, so no one’s more than about an hour from a game.
As always, I encourage you to take in a Bayside game. They’re the future, and there are few better ways to reminisce about sports than being able to say “I saw that guy when he played in high school!”
Friday’s Games Game of the Week N. Caroline (5-0) at Easton (2-3)
The Warriors will give their guests a fight, but I don’t see the home crowd leaving happy this time. — Bulldogs, 35-14.
Cambridge-SD (2-3) at Washington (1-4)
After back-to-back, season-saving wins, the visitors look to make it three in a row. — Vikings, 41-20.
Snow Hill (0-5) at Nandua, Va. (2-4)
A win by the visiting squad wouldn’t surprise me terribly, but I lean toward the Warriors, who’ll be angrier over their loss to CSD than the Eagles will be over losing to Bennett last week. — Warriors, 34-13.
Parkside (3-2) at J.M. Bennett (4-1)
I just typed “4-1” next to James M. Bennett’s name. The Clippers are back. Can they reinforce that point this week, with Rams tailback Nayel Oge available again? — Clippers, 27-26.
Wicomico (2-3) at Kent Island (5-0)
A loss here essentially kills the Indians’ playoff hopes. Four teams enter the week 5-0, with three more 3-2. That leaves too much ground to make up. — Buccaneers, 41-8.
Saturday’s Games Decatur (2-3) at Queen Anne’s (3-2)
If the Lions lose, their playoff chances are shot, too. Expect Decatur to battle, though. They’re not the same team as last year. — Lions, 31-18.
Kent County (1-4) at Colonel (2-3)
Revitalized after a big road win, Colonel needs this one to keep its postseason hopes alive. A Trojan win is possible, if Silas Phillips and company get some momentum. — Colonels, 21-19. Last Week: 7-0. Season: 31-5 (.861). Career: 881-184 (.8267).
Cambridge-South Dorchester’s Jacob Smith makes a tackle for a loss against Colonel Richardson Friday, Sept. 22.